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Archive for the ‘Creation’ Category

I am finally getting the time to go back to the “creation days” topic that I started sometime last year. I know everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the next part so I apologize up front for keeping everyone in suspense.

Day three is a very interesting one and a day in the creation account that to me goes against the idea that I hear often which is “It’s plainly obvious to everyone that reads Genesis that the world was created in 6 literal days”. In fact I was just listening to something recently by Kent Hovind where he said this repeatedly over and over again. Things like “If you gave the Bible to people that had no education in science or anything else for that matter they would all come back and say the world was created by God in 6 literal days”.
Well this just isn’t true and day three is a good example.
Genesis 1:9-13
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,
and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry
ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”
And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees
on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed
according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with
seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning—
the third day.
Now of course if someone just goes to the very end and says “Look, there was evening and there was morning the third day, this means all of this was done in 1 literal 24 hour day” then I can see where Kent and others are coming from when he says things like that. However they are also leaving behind the rest of the text and potentially even not interpreting these words accurately. Now I am also on record to say that I am not attempting to disprove YEC, if you want to believe that this text says a literal 24 hour day then that is fine with me. I am not going to say that God could not have done it. However, what I am going to say is that the door is open to a much different interpretation and it happens to be one that I currently hold. It also happens to line up with science which I don’t think is a bad thing.
Notice first that this passage does not say that God created land on day 3. It says God said let it “appear” and he called it “land”. So God spoke the “word” which we know thanks to John’s Gospel is God the Son acting in creation and the land masses appeared. God creates “ex nihilo” and has already done so in respect to the earth. There isn’t anything here that necessitates creation so the movement of the waters could happen by natural causes over a period of time which God the Son directs. What time passes between “God Said” and “It was so”? The case could be made that it happened instantaneously or in the same manner as when Christ dealt with the raging storm, but what about the next part of that day?
God said “Let the land produce vegetation seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”. Directly after this it again says “And it was so”. Once again, could God have immediately created all plants immediately and in a mature state? Of course he could have, the question would be is that what the text says? To the reader it would sound like much time would have passed between “God said” and “It was so” because of his command for the vegetation to produce seed bearing plants after their kind. This doesn’t happen in a 24 hour day as we know it so we can also say that the dry land doesn’t appear in 24 hours either because there is precedent set here for it. God is not “creating from nothing” on day 3 but instead he is crafting together what has already been created “ex nihilo”.

Also, the words “And it was so” are better translated “And it came to pass” in Hebrew. I am no Hebrew scholar, nor do I play one on TV, but that is what I have taken from those who are and looking at Lexicons and such. That being said I am always cautioned on that because I have to rely on others for this kind of study and they are fallible men with potential agendas and bias, but it’s the best I can do. Now that I have said that as a means of covering myself I will also say that the word “produce” or “shall bring forth” scholars say is the verb “dasha” which represents an incomplete action. Therefore even if one wants to hold to these things taking place in a 24 hour day, by this interpretation it didn’t have to end in that time frame.

So, to wrap up, God saw all this and declared it good and the evening and the morning were the third day. This is the line where folks like Ken Ham and Kent Hovind say “See, anyone who reads this would say everything took place in a 24 hour day”. However, nothing that I read before this would make sense to me practically in a 24 hour period of time. To that the reply would be “Well you don’t believe the simple words of the text”, in fact Hovind went as far as to call Hugh Ross a heretic and someone who must believe in a different God in a recent debate. But this just isn’t true at all. It seems to me that with current scientific evidence and common sense thinking we would have to approach this last part and ask how does this line up with the rest of the text and the rest of scripture for that matter.

There is another way to look at evening, morning, and day in this passage given the context of day 3, and every other day that is concluded for that matter (every day except for day 7). Hugh Ross of reasons to believe says it pretty well.

The Hebrew word ‘ereb, translated “evening”, also means “sunset”, “night”, or “ending of the day”. And the word boqer, translated “morning”, also means “sunrise”, “coming of light”, “beginning of day”, “break of day”, or “dawning”, with possible metaphoric usage. In other words, evening and morning refer to the beginning and ending components of “day”, however it is used.

So what we can take from this interpretation of the Hebrew is that God is simply telling us that this phase is complete. This lines up with the rest of day 3 quite nicely.

So in summary, could God have formed the dry land and brought forth completely mature plants and seeds on that land in a literal 24 hour time frame? Sure he could have, He is God, but is that what He is telling us he did and does it square with what we know now? Sure what we know now scientifically is of secondary importance but it is important. We know that plants don’t grow without the sun so if the sun was created on day 4 and plants grew on day 3 we have a problem unless God supernaturally intervenes in a special way. That’s not impossible, but if we look at the text and in light of knowledge understand how we have misinterpreted what is wrong with that? Biblical text trumps the fallen world but we can sometimes understand how we have incorrectly interpreted the text based on what we know to be fact.

Given that, I think it is a very plain reading of day 3 that says the land appeared as God planned it to in order for plants to be able to grow. After this the plants began to grow because the air, water, sun, and land had been positioned by God’s order to create the conditions necessary to do so. Science shows us this in a very similar way and can tell us the time frames they think it took, but regardless if it took that long or not, it didn’t have to happen in 24 hours just by reading the text. In addition, regardless of what Hovind says, it is a plain reading all of the way up to the final sentence that these events wouldn’t take 24 hours. However at that point we don’t throw all of this away and say evening and morning was the third day must mean 24 hours. Instead we understand that the land and the plants were phase 3 of God’s creation plan and it had a beginning and an end and now was complete and “good”.

Finally keep in mind that the entire creation account is summed up nicely in Genesis chapter 2:4 right after Day 7 (which by the way has no mention of evening and morning).

“These are the generations of the Heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the Heavens and the earth.”

The word “day” here is the same Hebrew word used in the days of creation in chapter 1 and I don’t hear anyone offering the argument that this is a literal 24 hour day. So from the young earth point of view the same Hebrew word in chapter 2 would need a different interpretation than chapter 1. On an old earth view this isn’t necessary and is much more consistent in that when you use the interpretation in both cases as “A space of time defined by an associated term”, the word “yom” in both cases means something longer than 24 hours.

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Historical Creationism

In the beginning “God”. This is what Christians believe universally that God is eternal. Then comes the word “Created” and we are still all in agreement for at some time an eternal God created time and space. The words following these 5 words bring in several views about when all of this took place. No view is 100% convincing because none of us were there and the Bible is not meant to give us 100% of the facts concerning creation once “God” is established with the 4th word.

I personally don’t prescribe to the Young earth view taught as a child and it has nothing to do with science. The Bible doesn’t say that the entire universe was created in 7 calendar days since there is no time-table put on Genesis 1:1. I don’t have to go any farther than that, although I have in another post and I believe there is very good reasons put forward by progressive old earth creationists. The fact that an old earth view is more in line with science bolsters this view in my opinion because God gave us the world through his Word (John chapter 1) and so if we study the world and the Word they should agree although science would be secondary to Biblical truth.

I remember a friend of mine in Church, with 2 seminary degrees focusing in Old Testament studies, teaching on Creation and going over a view called Historical Creationism. He actually said he prescribed to this view which I found interesting but sort of disregarded. I was surprised to hear John Piper saying he liked this view recently in a question and answer session, and then I came upon this analysis of John Sailhamer’s book Genesis Unbound and found it quite interesting. Sure, it has some holes in it, but so does every other view so I encourage you to read and examine with an open mind and an open Bible

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/resources/science-the-bible-and-the-promised-land

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In the early part of the 17th century Galileo was discovering things with the telescope that challenged the way people thought about the universe and how it worked. It is said that these scientific discoveries were so threatening that some church leaders refused to look into a telescope, and eventually put Galileo on house arrest later in his life. We know now that Galileo was of course correct in his findings and the Church leaders of the day were behaving irrationally. Their fear stemmed from the idea that their interpretation of the Bible might be shown as false so instead of working with the scientific leaders of the day they attempted to suppress the truth which there is never any reason to do. The Bible interpreted correctly speaks of a round earth, and science understood correctly does as well. This makes sense since if God created the world then the study of it should point to that. 

Now there could be another issue related to this on the horizon although under different circumstances. In an era where theology has taken a back seat to scientific enlightenment within society we find many Christians abandoning science when looking at the Bible. Often times when the subject of an old earth is brought up, it is quickly refuted by strictly looking at the english translated Genesis account and taking on faith a literal 24 hour, 7 day creation by God. Now granted, there are some who use genealogy, and many young earth scientists that try to use science presupposing a literal interpretation, and I am not even going to say I know they are 100% wrong yet. However what I am saying is that most people I know just take it on faith and start asking me why I don’t think God is powerful enough to create the world (ex nihlo) in 7 24 hour days. 

My response is that we should not be fighting science in this regard. Science is the study of the creation, and it should be accepted and worked with using no religious bias of a young or old earth or any other non-essential view. We should look at the scientific evidence and relate it to the Genesis account, and the rest of the Bible, to better understand our origins instead of either refusing to see it, or twisting it to conform to a particular view that we might hold. We would not continue to have faith that the earth is flat because we interpreted the Bible that way in the face of factual scientific proof that told us otherwise. We know that as it relates to origins that “In the beginning God created”, this is what we accept by faith for many reasons but one being that science has no factual answer, and two being that the BIble clearly proclaims it. Keep in mind that I am speaking strictly from a Science and Christianity comparative approach and not attacking faith and what it means to the believer in general. I am also not saying that this issue is essential and should cause division or effect regeneration. What I am saying is that the issue should actually unite us rather than divide. 

So “In the beginning God created” and what happened from there? Can we fuse scientific evidence with what the Bible says or is it a hopeless cause and what the Bible says about origins must be accepted literally and on faith only? In my view anything that can be seen as a scientific fact in the true sense will work with the Genesis account otherwise we have come upon something incorrectly, either the science or the interpretation. We should accept this and do our best to understand, we shouldn’t be afraid to look into the telescope. 

Genesis 1:1 says In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Translation from the Hebrew means the organized universe in general and there is nothing that says this creation didn’t include everything, or at least the necessity for everything, that we see now. There is also no mention of “days” at all here and definitely no mention of a calendar day. The Bible is God’s word to man so the earth is mentioned because that is where we live and what man is concerned with primarily, however the entire universe is part of creation and so God mentions it’s beginning and moves on to earth specifically. 

Genesis 1:2 says “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. Clearly there is nothing about this part of scripture that says there was anything but an unformed earth covered in water and darkness. The focus has shifted to earth now, so we can’t be 100% sure if the Universe was dark as well or just the earth. However based on our scientific knowledge that fits with later verses we would have to conclude that there was light in the universe but it was not filtering to the earth at this point. Christian scientists and Theistic scientists alike find common ground on this issue. Even the big bang theory would point to the sun igniting first while the earth was surrounded by a mixture of thick gas and debris that would have been enough to block out the sun. Also, if I may interject here it is interesting how while young earth creationists run away from the big bang theory all other scientists, both theistic, old earth, and A-theistic agree that the universe had a beginning and can’t be eternal with the big bang being the best answer. A-theists have to give up their eternal universe theories for the most part, although some still hold to it in the face of scientific evidence. Where the debate lies is what caused the big bang or explosive beginning of the universe and whether or not species can evolve into completely different species through macro evolution. 

From what I read there is not a lot of controversy until we get to Genesis 1:3-5 that says “And God said let there be light, and there was light, and God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. The debate here is between what is done on this first day from earth’s perspective, and what is done on the 4th day. From what I read in articles and books from young earth creationists, and what I heard as a child, this is where God created the sun, moon and stars. Their explanation for light on day 1 could be the light of God. Well if God is omnipresent then his light is already everywhere so even from a Biblical perspective this is confusing. This also has scientific complications based on what we know today. This Godly light would need to make the earth sprout plants and vegetation on day 3 as well as fruit trees since the earth would not be benefiting from the sun which doesn’t come until day 4. I am not saying that God could not make the plants grow by himself, but the scripture clearly says that the earth brought forth the plants. It is much less of a stretch to agree with science that says the sun would have come into view as well as the planets when the thick gases dissipated as gravity took hold. 

In addition to this, when I read the Hebrew thanks to scholars who know it much better then I ever will they almost all conclude that Hebrew word for “made” is asah referring to an action made in the past or to fashion something already made. The word for creating something from nothing would be bara. In other words the correct translation to English for day 4 would be that God “had made” the two great lights and stars, and set them in the expanse of the Heavens. So the source of the light coming to earth would be revealed with the thinning of the atmosphere. In Genesis 1:1 it says that God created which is taken from a form of bara which usually relates to being created out of nothing which is how God started creation. So God created the Universe before calendar days even began, then he made the sun moon and stars the way they are now on day 4. Either way you want to take that is fine, whether they appeared from the perspective of earth, or whether God crafted something out of what was already there, but to say that he created the sun moon and stars (ex nihlo) on day 4 would be not only scientifically false, but most likely Biblically false as well. 

The other problem for young earth creationists is explaining how in the beginning God created the Heavens and earth, started space and time as we know it, but decided to leave the sun, moon and stars out of the equation until calendar day 4 while the earth was bringing forth plants and vegetation on calendar day 3. Could it happen that way? Biblically you could go down that road if you want but it doesn’t seem scientifically possible and there is a better alternative that still complies with God’s word. I could still read some verses in the Bible and say the earth is flat but that would be nonsense and God can only be orderly and make sense or he isn’t God. 

The final problem I see for young earth creationists would be that everything was created in 7 calendar days. According to what the Bible says, God created the universe before earth days were even in place. In fact earth days are not in place until verse 5 when God separates ALL light from ALL darkness. 

Now as I said previously don’t take me wrong here. I consider myself reformed and believe in Sola Scriptura 100% so I would be the first to back the Bible for what it says. I just don’t think the Bible says the universe was created in 7 calendar earth days and I also believe that ultimately science agrees with the Bible when we understand them correctly. I don’t believe that the Bible contradicts science unless the science is wrong as in the case of macroevolution or Darwin’s theory of one origin for all species. 

So what about day 2? Well in day 2 the earth is covered in water with an atmosphere that is blanketed by thick gases and possibly debris. The earth is receiving light but nothing in the sky above the atmosphere is visible from the earth perspective. The book of Psalms helps us a bit with day 2, but once again we will have to decide how to interpret chapter 104. A young earth creationist would look at verse 2 and reference the first day of creation, showing how this is the light of God. He would also point to verse 9 as the promise given after the flood. However verse 2 says that God covers himself with light not that he is light, and there is no reason to think that the writer of the Psalm jumps from creation to flood. Therefore verse 9 could actually be used against the world-wide flood case and in favor of localized flooding. 

The Psalm speaks of God separating waters which is what he is doing on day 2. God is not creating the earths atmosphere since that was already done. However what he is doing is causing the atmosphere to be clear of water and directing it into the spots we are more familiar with today. This leads to day 3 where the dry land emerges and the earth is ready for life. I find it interesting that current scientific explanations of the early earth regardless of religious views or lack thereof, follow this interpretation of the Biblical account. I will leave the explanation for a different post, but I encourage you to do some research on it yourself. 

In my next post I will discuss days 3-6 and see what the Bible and science has for us there. 

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