Monday, February 23, 2009
Even though I have been recovering, the pain involved in my life sometimes makes it hard to do much more than work and survive. I wake up feeling like I have just survived a major car crash and sometimes I cannot get out of bed without a controlled fall onto the floor (our bed is not on legs, so it is low to the ground). I roll off the edge, try to catch myself with an arm and roll to my stomach on the floor, then I pull my upper body onto the bed and then push up with my arms and stand to my feet. However I get up, it usually involves yelling (I learned from football and the military that yelling helps effort somehow) and once on my feet I walk like Frankenstein's Monster for awhile.
After the first pain pill kicks in I get around pretty well but have to limit the time sitting or standing. More than a combined eight or nine hours sitting, walking and standing tend to make my leg begin to swell. I have to spend most of the time in a reclining couch/chair.
I have to take a lot of pills and even then some days are a very long and hard road. So although I have been more efficient at work and more regular as a blog poster, kindly be patient with me.
Tomorrow I see my doctor to get ideas about how I can possibly rehab and get better.
It may be a day or two before I do my next post or I may cut it into more parts. Not sure yet. Smaller posts may be a good idea for awhile anyway.
My plan is to be able to walk dogs, ride bikes with my wife, play tennis and maybe even play basketball again. Long way away right now...
So be patient, I am not recovered I am just in remission and pretty wiped out. Thanks!
credit to one bean for the cartoon!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
All evolutionists and virtually all old-earth creationists believe that animals were killing and eating one another for millions of years, long before the Fall of man. Young-earth creationists argue that this is incompatible with Scripture. Old-earthers dispute the young-earthers’ interpretation of Scripture and employ at least two other counterarguments. One is that carnivorous behaviour is actually very good, and the other is that animals in the wild do not suffer. There is very good reason to believe that they do suffer; but even if they do not, carnivorous activity before the Fall remains incompatible with Scripture.
In today’s fallen world, carnivores eat other animals. But God’s original creation was perfect; man and all the animals were herbivores.
The carnivorous nature and suffering of animals before the Fall are two issues which old-earth creationists need to face. They believe that the earth is billions of years old, and this generally means believing that God’s method of creation involved millions of years of animals tearing each other to pieces, millions of years of mass extinction of species, and millions of years of natural disasters. For a loving God, who created a perfect world which He declared to be ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31), it seems to be an amazingly cruel and wasteful method of creation. It was also totally unnecessary, as He is omnipotent and could easily have done it in six literal days without any kind of suffering and destruction—precisely as the book of Genesis appears to say He did do it.
The following is a typical statement of the problem made by apostate ex–mega-evangelist Charles Templeton:
‘The grim and inescapable reality is that all life is predicated on death. Every carnivorous creature must kill and devour another creature. It has no option. How could a loving and omnipotent God create such horrors? … Surely it would not be beyond the competence of an omniscient deity to create an animal world that could be sustained and perpetuated without suffering and death.’1
A fundamental part of the Bible’s message is that God’s original creation was perfect. All the evils in the world today, both moral and physical, came into the world as a consequence of man’s sin. This article reconsiders just two of those evils—the carnivorous nature and suffering of animals. I will take a fresh look at the relevant scriptural passages, and at the ways in which old-earth creationists try to deal with the problem. Animal death is a related issue; but I will only briefly touch on it in this article.
The main scriptural passages, the first in Genesis and the last in Revelation, tell an amazing story—the story of Paradise created, Paradise lost and then Paradise restored. In Genesis 1:31 we read, ‘And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.’ This is a statement of enormous significance. God is omnipotent, omniscient and absolutely good; so if He felt this way about His new creation, it must have been flawless—absolutely perfect. Nigel M. de. Cameron (then Warden of Rutherford House, Edinburgh) writes:
By the application of the term ‘good’ to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis ‘very’ at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied.— Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament
‘Six times individual elements in the creation are pronounced “good”, and the seventh time the whole creation receives the emphatic “very good”. It is difficult to see how the divine approbation could have been more strongly expressed. Evidently, the seven-fold pattern is deliberately given to the expressions of approval, culminating in the “very good” judgement on the whole work, since they do not follow the pattern of the seven days. We find them on days one, three, four, five and six; two on day three, and two—including the “very good”—on day six. The use therefore of the perfect number seven is intended to be emphatic and is not directly related to the seven-day character of the creative work. It reflects the absolute perfection of the work of God, and in the light of what follows in chapters 2 and 3, the stress on perfection takes on a dramatic and inescapable significance. As Keil and Delitzsch write in their great Old Testament Commentary, “By the application of the term ‘good’ to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis ‘very’ at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied.”’2
We are told, also, in Genesis 1:29–30, that in the beginning, vegetation was given as food for man, and also for every animal. Man and all animals were herbivorous—there was no carnivory. Genesis 9:3 confirms this point and drives it home, leaving very little room for doubt. This verse teaches that immediately after the Flood, God said to man that He was giving animals to him for food, just as He had given vegetation previously (at the time of creation). The clear and logical implication is that man and all animals were herbivorous at the time of creation.
Old-earth theologians dispute this interpretation. Derek Kidner (Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge), for example, writes:
‘The assigning of every green plant for food (RSV) to all creatures must not be pressed to mean that all were once herbivorous, any more than to mean that all plants were equally edible to all. It is a generalization, that directly or indirectly all life depends on vegetation, and the concern of the verse is to show that all are fed from God’s hand. See also on 9:3.’3
The verses in Isaiah 65:17–25 strengthen the case for a pre-Fall world in which there was no carnivorous activity. Verse 25, for example, says, ‘The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food … .’
I suggest that the old-earth creationists are the ones who are doing the pressing—they are trying to press these verses into an old-earth mould! The straightforward and obvious meaning of Genesis 1:30 is that before the Fall, every green plant was edible, and every animal ate green plants—although different animals may well have preferred different plants. According to the evangelical theologian Alec Motyer, Principal of Trinity College, Bristol, UK, Genesis 1:29–30 does indeed indicate that all animals were herbivorous before the Fall4 (see below).
Leaving aside, for the moment, the infliction of God’s Curse on creation, let us look at Isaiah 11:6–9; 65:17–25. These passages provide further confirmation that there was no carnivorous activity before the Fall. In one common eschatological view, agreeable to many old-earth creationists, they speak of a future restoration (Acts 3:21). The picture painted is one of peace and tranquillity. We are told that ‘the wolf will dwell with the lamb’ and ‘the lion will eat straw like the ox’, etc. ‘They will not hurt or destroy’ and ‘they shall do no evil or harm’.
Old-earthers object that the language here is the language of poetry or allegory;5 but even if that were true, would not these passages indicate at the very least that there is something wrong, unpleasant or imperfect about animals killing and eating each other? Would it be consistent for the God who inspired the writing of Isaiah 11 and 65 to use millions of years of carnivorous activity as a method of creation, and then declare it to be ‘very good’?
Actually, these passages indicate very specifically that carnivorous activity is an evil—that is, a physical rather than a moral evil. The Hebrew word translated ‘hurt’ in the KJV of Isaiah 11:9 and 65:25 is raa. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, the most frequent translation of this word is ‘do evil’. Other translations include ‘afflict’ and ‘do wickedly’. It is related to ra, the usual word for ‘evil’ in the Old Testament—and that includes both moral and physical evil. As for the word translated ‘destroy’ in the KJV in Isaiah 11:9 and 65:25 (shachath), the core meaning is ‘mar’ or ‘corrupt’. No wonder carnivorous activity has no place in the new creation!
Motyer has spent a lifetime studying the book of Isaiah. He is not involved in the young-earth/old-earth controversy; rather he is concerned simply with expounding the plain meaning of the text. In his commentary on Isaiah, he teaches that Isaiah 11:6–9 and 65:25 do indeed picture a return, in some sense, to the conditions which prevailed on Earth before God cursed the creation—and in doing so, he affirms the herbivorous nature of all animals before the Fall. Concerning 11:6–9, he writes:
‘There is an “Edenic” element in Isaiah’s thinking (see on [Isaiah] 2:4b) … the life of nature itself is transformed. Verses 6–8 offer three facets of the renewed creation and verse 9 is a concluding summary. First, in verse 6 there is the reconciliation of old hostilities, the allaying of old fears; predators (wolf, leopard, lion) and prey (lamb, goat, calf, yearling) are reconciled. So secure is this peace that a youngster can exercise the dominion originally given to humankind. Secondly, in verse 7 there is a change of nature within the beasts themselves: cow and bear eat the same food, as do lion and ox. There is also a change in the very order of things itself: the herbivoral nature of all the creatures points to Eden restored (Gn. 1:29–30). Thirdly, in verse 8 the curse is removed. The enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent is gone (Gn. 3:15ab). Infant and “weaned child” have nothing to fear from cobraand viper. Finally, in verse 9 the coming Eden is Mount Zion—a Zion which fills the whole earth. Peace (9a), holiness (9b), and ‘knowing the Lord’ (9c) pervades all.’4
Isaiah 11:6–9 ends with the words, ‘They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’ Summarizing this passage, Nigel Cameron writes:
‘Essentially it has two thrusts of teaching—it implies that there is, in fact, something fundamentally awry in the animal kingdom; that the predation and animosity which characterise it are not as they should be. And, secondly, it asserts that it is man’s religious condition that is responsible for this state of things; the absence from the earth of the ‘knowledge of the Lord’. Human sin and evil in nature are interconnected in a relation of cause and effect.’—Nigel Cameron on Isaiah 11:6–9.
‘Essentially it has two thrusts of teaching—it implies that there is, in fact, something fundamentally awry in the animal kingdom; that the predation and animosity which characterise it are not as they should be. And, secondly, it asserts that it is man’s religious condition that is responsible for this state of things; the absence from the earth of the “knowledge of the Lord”. Human sin and evil in nature are interconnected in a relation of cause and effect.’6
Isaiah 11:6–9 and 65:17–25 do not mean necessarily that life in this restoration will be exactly the same as life in the pre-Fall world. It will be on a higher plane of existence, and it may well be that Isaiah is using images, which we can understand and relate to, in order to describe the indescribable. He is trying to describe a state of existence which is beyond our capacity to understand fully as yet. In this sense, Isaiah’s language may be metaphorical. He is using as metaphors, images which we can understand and relate to. If this is so, it actually confirms the reality and historicity of the herbivorous nature of all animals in the pre-Fall world. To Isaiah and his readers, this was real history, and he was taking it and using it as a picture of life on the new earth.
Some of the verses in Isaiah 65:17–25 are rather puzzling at first sight; but, properly understood, they actually strengthen the case for a pre-Fall world in which there was no carnivorous activity. Verse 20, for example, says:
‘No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed.’
At first reading this verse is difficult to understand, but Motyer explains it as follows:
Wild animals do indeed suffer. For example, adult elephants are intelligent animals that show signs of severe grief and distress when their young are killed by predators.
‘Throughout this passage Isaiah uses aspects of present life to create impressions of the life that is yet to come. … Things we have no real capacity to understand can be expressed only through things we know and experience. So it is that in this present order of things death cuts life off before it has well begun or before it has fully matured. But it will not be so then. No infant will fail to enjoy life nor an elderly person come short of total fulfilment. Indeed, one would be but a youth were one to die aged a hundred! This does not imply that death will still be present (contradicting 25:7–8) but rather affirms that over the whole of life, as we should now say from infancy to old age, the power of death will be destroyed. … Thus verse 20 expresses a double thought: death will have no more power and sin no more presence.’7
Isaiah goes on to say in verse 25, ‘The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain, says the Lord.’ Thus, just as great longevity was a known image, so the herbivorous nature of all animals in the pre-Fall world was a known image. To Isaiah and his readers, the tranquillity of Eden, with no carnivorous activity, was real history. It was used as a picture or metaphor to describe the indescribable wonders of the new heavens and the new earth.
We may feel that Isaiah should have said openly that there would be no death in the new creation. The fact is, however, that the Holy Spirit inspired him to choose instead the metaphor of great longevity. This emphasizes the fact that he used as metaphors things from the present creation which were within human experience. The pre-Fall world, with its lack of carnivorous activity, was part of human experience, whereas immortality was not part of that experience. Adam and Eve may have been immortal potentially, but in fact they did die.
We return now to the creation account in Genesis. Genesis 3:8–24 records a number of curses which God pronounced on creation after man rebelled against Him. To the serpent He said, ‘Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field.’ This appears to say that all animals were cursed; but the serpent was cursed more than the others. There were other curses also, such as ‘Cursed is the ground.’ It appears, therefore, that because man had been put in charge of the earth, the whole earth, as well as man himself, came under a curse. In fact Romans 8:18–25 indicates that the whole creation was subjected to corruption and suffering, and the implication is that this was ‘the Curse’—the result of man’s rebellion against God. The phrases used include ‘subjected to futility’, ‘slavery to corruption’, ‘groans and suffers’ and ‘anxious longing’. The whole creation is groaning and looking forward to its liberation when we will receive our resurrection bodies, and the present corrupt and decaying universe will be transformed into a new heaven and a new earth. As we have seen, Isaiah 11 and 65 indicate (whether or not we think the descriptions are poetic) that the removal of the Curse will result in a world where animals do not harm each other. And this, in turn, indicates that before the Curse was inflicted, animals were not tearing each other to pieces and devouring each other.
Old-earth creationists believe that the Fall had a much more limited effect on creation, and they interpret Romans 8:18–25 in accordance with that belief. They believe that creation was essentially the same before and after the Fall. They limit the effect of the Fall to man’s failure to accept responsibility for the world, and his abuse of it. R.J. Berry (Professor of Genetics at University College, London, and a theistic evolutionist), for example, writes:
‘The message of Romans 8:18–23 is thus one of hope—hope not looking to the distant future but to the time when the redeemed accept their reunion with God, and therefore their responsibility for nature. Paul’s argument is that as long as man refuses (or is unable through sin) to play the role God created for him, the world of nature is dislocated and frustrated.’8
This falls far short of what the passage actually says, as shown, for example, by F.F. Bruce (then Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at Manchester University). Like Alec Motyer, he was an evangelical theologian who was not involved in the young-earth/old-earth controversy. In his commentary on Romans, he was concerned simply with expounding the plain meaning of the text. I would like to quote him at length, but lack of space forbids. Concerning Romans 8:18–25, he has no doubt that this passage is indeed speaking of the Curse which fell on the whole creation—the entire universe—as a result of the Fall. He assumes that Isaiah 11:6–9 is in the language of poetry; but he makes it quite clear that Romans 8 looks forward to ‘the transformation of the present universe’ on the day of resurrection.9
Thus, Romans 8:18–25 makes it perfectly clear that the extent of the Curse, and of the transformation needed to put creation right again, are far greater than Berry would have us believe. The changes in creation after the Fall were far greater than anything admitted by old-earthers. It should be emphasized also that it was God who subjected the whole creation—the entire universe—to ‘futility’ or ‘frustration’ and its bondage to decay. This indicates that neither decay nor other imperfections in creation can be attributed solely to man’s misuse of the natural world. Some interpreters have suggested that it was Adam or Satan who subjected the creation to futility; but this is hardly likely. The whole creation was affected, and it was subjected ‘in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’ F.F. Bruce agrees that the latter interpretations (concerning Adam and Satan) are unlikely—it was ‘most probably God’ who subjected the creation to futility.10
Moving on towards the end of the Bible, we find that the new heavens and the new earth are mentioned in 2 Peter 3:13, and then again in Revelation 21:1. We are told that ‘there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain … and there shall no longer be any curse’ (Rev. 21:4; 22:3).
Old-earth creationist answers
Young-earth creationists believe that the biblical account of creation is incompatible with an earth history of billions of years. One reason is that if the fossil record represents millions of years of Earth history, it has to be said that God’s method of creation was both cruel and wasteful. It was a long, drawn-out process of violence and carnage, involving the suffering and death of billions of animals over millions of years.
I have alluded already to certain ways in which old-earth creationists deal with the above scriptural passages. Another way is, amazingly, to agree with the young-earth creationists about these passages! One example is the prominent old-earth creationist apologist Norman Geisler, who answered Templeton’s question on p. 1 (through Lee Strobel):
‘[Y]es, God can create those kind [sic] of animals. And the fact is, He did. The original paradise had those kind [sic] of animals and the paradise to come—the paradise restored—is going to have those kind [sic] of animals. In fact, we are told that God originally created animals and human beings to be herbivorous. … [Reads from Genesis 1:29–30, then continues] …
‘God did not create animals to be eaten in paradise, and animals weren’t eating each other. The prophet Isaiah said someday God will “create a new heavens and a new earth” where “the wolf and the lamb will feed together and the lion will eat straw like an ox”. In other words, there’s not going to be the same kind of killing that goes on now.
‘In sum, everything God created was good. What changed things was the Fall. When God was told, in effect, to shove off, he partially did. Romans 8 says all creation was affected—that includes plant life, human beings, animals, everything. There were fundamental genetic changes; we see, for instance, how life spans rapidly decreased after the Fall [sic: Flood]. God’s plan was not designed to be this way; it’s only this way because of sin. Ultimately it will be remedied.’11
Of course, this is just not logical for an old-earther, because there are many fossils showing carnivory, and all old-earth dating methods place the fossils as well before Adam. To be consistent, Geisler must place these fossils after Adam, but that would have to mean the rock layers that contain them were also after Adam.
Apart from these, I think there are two main ways in which old-earthers deal with the problem of the carnivorous nature and suffering before the Fall. The first is to say that the carnivorous nature is actually very good, and the second is to say that animals in the wild do not suffer.
Reasons for believing that the carnivorous nature is good can be subdivided into ‘biblical’ and ‘common-sense’ reasons. Henri Blocher (Professor of Systematic Theology at the Faculté Libre de Théologie Evangélique, Vaux-sur-Seine, France), a leading advocate of the ‘framework hypothesis’,12 provides one example of the former.13 He wrote, ‘… the speeches of God in the book of Job exalt the terrifying beauty of the beasts of prey as God’s work’. That is true, but it does not prove that such beasts (in their present form) were part of the original creation. Is it likely that ‘terror’ was part of the original creation? The present creation is God’s work, and is utterly awesome; but it is a creation which has been subjected to ‘futility’ or ‘frustration’ (Rom. 8:20). In this fallen creation, God instituted capital punishment for murder as well (Gen. 9:6), but even Blocher would not claim that there was murder in the original creation.
These comments apply also to verses like Psalm 104:21, 24, which say, ‘The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God … O Lord, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.’
A ‘common-sense’ reason for saying that carnivorous behaviour is good is the fact that many animals are marvellously designed for a carnivorous way of life. Another is the fact that predators maintain the balance of nature. Without predatory activity and animal death, the world would become overcrowded very rapidly, resulting in mass starvation.14
In today’s fallen world, that makes obvious sense. But we are not thinking about the world as it is today. We are thinking about a different kind of world—the world as it was before the Fall.
Although the book of Job exalts the terrifying beauty of the beasts of prey as God’s work, this does not prove that such beasts were part of the original creation. The present creation is one which has been subjected to ‘futility’ or ‘frustration’ (Rom. 8:20).
Also, we are dealing with an omnipotent Creator, whose power and wisdom are infinitely greater than ours, and whose Word can be trusted. I think we can trust that God was quite capable of devising a way to avoid the problem of overcrowding, and then of modifying His designs! Even today, animals such as rats can limit their population growth to prevent overcrowding. Also, we should consider the reason for the command to multiply: to fill the earth. Once its purpose had been fulfilled, the command would no longer be in force.
The second way of dealing with the problem of carnivorous behaviour and suffering before the Fall is to say that animals in the wild do not really suffer. It is said that because they are not rational beings like us—they have a lower level of consciousness—they do not experience pain, fear and mental anguish in the way that we do.
John Wenham (Warden of Latimer House, Oxford) deals with the problem of animal suffering in his book The Goodness of God, in a section entitled ‘Evil in the World of Nature’.15 He is not addressing the young-earth/old-earth controversy specifically. But old-earth creationists use the same kind of arguments to justify the existence of carnivorous behaviour before the Fall. Wenham argues that ‘there is reason to think that extreme sensations of pain and experiences of suffering may be rare or even non-existent among animals’ in the wild state. In spite of this statement, he does appear to accept that there is some pain and suffering in the wild state. However, he believes that where there is animal suffering, most of it is caused by man’s misuse and exploitation of the natural world.
I am sure there is a lot of truth in what Wenham says; but he is unable to say that no pain and suffering is experienced by wild animals in an environment untouched by man. Furthermore, I think Wenham is downplaying the psychic faculties of animals too much. Animals do not possess a spiritual faculty; but they do have a psyche—especially the higher mammals. Common-sense tells us that animals do suffer, and in fact the scientific evidence points to this very clearly. This was the conclusion reached by, for example, the Brambell Committee set up by the British government.16 Although this committee looked into the suffering of ‘factory farm’ animals, rather than wild animals, much of the evidence it produced (such as the anatomy and physiology of animal nervous systems) is relevant to all animals.
This kind of evidence is compelling; but by itself, it does not prove that animals suffer in the wild. It needs to be supplemented by direct observation of animal behaviour in the wild. As it happens, my son Matthew is a conservation biologist, wildlife consultant and safari guide who has worked for many years in Southern and Eastern Africa, closely observing animals in the wild. I discussed this question with him, and he was emphatic in his dismissal of the idea that animals in the wild do not suffer. To be precise, he said, ‘That is absolute rubbish!’ He has no doubt at all that animals in the wild do indeed suffer. He says, for example, that adult elephants are intelligent animals who show signs of severe grief and distress when their young are killed by predators.
But however much, or little, pain and suffering there is in nature, the Bible indicates that the present state of things is not the ideal—God did not make it this way originally. Also, it was God who subjected the whole creation to ‘futility’ and its bondage to decay. Imperfections in creation cannot be attributed solely to man’s misuse of the natural world—although all of them are consequences of his rebellion against God.
Young-earth creationists believe that the biblical account of creation is incompatible with an earth history of billions of years. One reason is that if the fossil record represents millions of years of Earth history, it has to be said that God’s method of creation was both cruel and wasteful. It was a long, drawn-out process of violence and carnage, involving the suffering and death of billions of animals over millions of years. The scriptures we have looked at make it quite clear that this could not have been the method God used in creating what he pronounced to be a ‘very good’ creation.
For further reading, I recommend Evolution and the Authority of the Bible, by Nigel M. de. Cameron. He shows that the Bible teaches very clearly that God’s original creation was perfect. It teaches also, equally clearly, that ‘all evils, both moral and physical, which affect this earth’—including the carnivorous nature and suffering of animals—came into the world after Adam and Eve disobeyed God. This teaching is completely incompatible with theistic evolution—and I would add that it is incompatible with most old-earth creationist theories also. According to nearly all these theories, many physical evils were present in the world long before the Fall. But since this book is out of print, and Cameron has since compromised on the young-earth view (without adequately trying to refute his own arguments), I would recommend Refuting Compromise, as it covers many of these points in ch. 6.17
Friday, February 20, 2009
Martin Luther - If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point. (Luther's Works. Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f.)
This post precedes the second post on information and it is directed at Christians, although the rest of you are of course invited to read on.
Before you Christians who are willing to believe in evolution get too comfortably numb in that particular pot, remember the parable of the frog in the pot. Allow me to explain and offer you a hand out of the pot and even a nice towel to dry you off.
It is simply not true that the facts are on the side of evolution. The facts are not on one side or the other. No one has a Wayback Machine to view the events surrounding either a creation event or a big bang. No one has video footage of a world-wide flood. The facts available to us concerning origins require interpretation. Both sides have the same facts, they simply believe different things. It is fair to say that whether you believe in either evolution or creation it is a belief. It is a matter of faith. Do you believe Jesus or Darwin? Or do you actually believe you can believe both?
One fact that tends to fall on the Christian side of the ledger is the Bible. Over 3,000 times the Bible claims to be the Word of God in one way or the other. We as Christians are assumed to take the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith. Since God cannot lie, we will also assume the assertions and historical accounts therein to be true.
I am going to concentrate on the idea of a logical Christian belief system. We will not say much about rock layers or radiometric dating or irreducible complexities. Christians agree that the Bible is the authority in all matters of faith. I submit that the Bible is an authority on all matters it reveals in any field of study, whether scientific or philosophical or historical.
1) The Bible asserts that water and then light were formed first as the Universe was created, rather than a big explosion. Adding millions of years to any one day or making each day millions of years old cannot change the fact that the Bible has an order to creation that refutes the assertions of evolution.
Genesis 1:1-8 "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day."As you follow the creation narrative of Genesis One, you see other problems. God made plants, then sea-dwelling creatures, then flying creatures and then land animals last. After the Universe and the Earth are prepared, God makes man.
Evolution requires random molecules eventually forming simple cells becoming primitive plants and animals in the seas, moving to land and then flying animals happening last. Adding millions of years doesn't change the fact that this order disagrees with the order of Genesis, let alone the timeline.
2) Evolution requires millions and perhaps billions of years of creatures living and dying and evolving from simpler to more complex beings, or sometimes not more complex but just different. In any event, the theme of evolution is DEATH. Millions upon Billions upon Trillions of deaths with no reason behind them. God's Word equates death with sin.
In Genesis 1 through 2:3, we show a six day creation and there is no death. God puts mankind in charge of the animal world in verse 1:28 but explains that man and animals are to eat plant life only in verse 1:29. So far, no death. God proclaims that creation is "very good" in 1:31. In 2:3 he rests from his creative work.
So, how is it that God is saying that the completed days of creation are very good if they are not days but rather millions of years of death and disease and destruction? What is very good about that? Why would God tell man to eat plants, and does anyone believe that mankind went on for however many thousands or millions of years without eating meat before "The Fall?" If you believe in millions of years, you have to throw out Genesis chapter one altogether. No way does the account fit into the idea of millions of years of death unless God believes death is "good."
Adam and Eve are portrayed as being in a paradise on earth, allowed to do whatever they wish and having personal communion with God. They are given free reign over creation and warned that only one thing was forbidden them and that was the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are told that if they eat of that particular fruit, they will die.
Adam and Eve are innocent and can do whatever they may because they are innocent. They have no knowledge of good and evil. They have no experience with death. They have free will and there is only one thing forbidden to them. But they are deceived by Satan to believe that they can eat the forbidden fruit and be like God and actually will not die. They do eat of the fruit, God knows it, confronts them and everything changes.
Let's follow the account (any bolding by me), beginning with Genesis 2:15 - The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman, '
for she was taken out of man."
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Genesis Three - 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this,
"Cursed are you above all the livestock
and all the wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel."
16 To the woman he said,
"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you."
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
So, the Tree actually did have fruit that enabled Adam and Eve to understand good and evil. This was a disastrous event for the world. They did eat of it and at that moment understood their rebellion against God and suddenly their nakedness seemed shameful. They had not known shame previously.
This was also the beginning of death. Satan (as the serpent, a word in the Hebrew that is actually not snake, by the way, but rather an attractive creature) had used truth and lies mixed together to convince Eve and then Adam to sin by disobeying God. More than this, innocence was gone and God had to kill animals to provide skins for them to wear. One could argue that Eve was fooled into disobeying God, but Adam had deliberately sinned along with her. It was rebellion against God.
Wait a minute? Didn't they have fig leaves to cover them already? Yes, but God performed the first sacrifice to show them that sin brings death and that their sin had brought death into the world. Now innocence was gone and death was here. Death entered into the world, into the world of organisms. Along with it came disease and mutation and aging...all results of sin.
The Book of Romans is, among other things, a legal and logical dissertation on death and redemption, on faith and works, an explanation of grace. Here is a selection of statements concerning sin and death.
Romans 6:23 begins "For the wages of sin are death..." Romans 5:12 " Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:14 "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come."
3) The Bible asserts, and Christians believe Jesus Christ came to free us from both sin and death. Jesus Christ came to save us from the penalty for sin first imposed upon the human race by the sin of the first man, Adam, though Adam's willful rebellion against (what was then) the one rule of God. Romans, again, has much to say on this score:
Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:17 "For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
Romans 5:19 "19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.." Romans 5:21 "...so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The Bible is quite specific on the relationship between sin and death.
Hebrews 9:22 says "... without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. "
The Bible also expresses the relationship between the man, Adam, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became a man to provide a solution to the Adamic sin problem.
I Corinthians 15:21 and 22 "21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
I Corinthians 15:45 "So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit."
The Christian must conclude that Adam was a real man, that his sin was original sin that brought death into the world, and that Jesus Christ was the Last Sacrifice and only remedy for sin and death. If life of all kinds had been living and dying for millions of years, then the story of Adam is without meaning and the sacrifice of Christ was foolishness. Otherwise he must abandon not only the testimony of Genesis 1-3, but also the books of Romans and Hebrews and I Corinthians and I Timothy (read I Tim 2:13-15) and...well, he must discount the necessity of the ministry of Christ, so he might as well throw out the entire Bible and our faith along with it.
Jesus Himself validated the beginning of Genesis, saying in Mark 10:6-8 ""But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." "
Jesus Christ quoted from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 within these verses, emphasizing that He considered the account as a historical and valid account and not some metaphorical fairy tale.
4) Atheists realize the importance to the Christian faith of a literal Genesis account and a literal six days of creation. They understand that, without a Fall, there is no need of a Risen Savior. They see clearly that millions of years of evolution refutes the Bible and takes away the necessity or effectiveness of a Savior Christ.
“It becomes clear now that the whole justification of Jesus’ life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam’s fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what purpose is there to Christianity? None...
“...evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!”
[Bozarth, G. Richard, “The Meaning of Evolution,” American Atheist (Feb 1978), pp 19,30]
“And the creationists have also shown irrefutably that those liberal and neo-orthodox Christians who regard the creation stories as myths or allegories are undermining the rest of Scripture, for if there was no Adam, there was no fall; and if there was no fall there was no hell; and if there was no hell, there was no need of Jesus as Second Adam and Incarnate Savior, crucified and risen. As a result, the whole biblical system of salvation collapses.”
[Mattill, A. J., Jr., “Three Cheers for the Creationists,” Free Inquiry, vol. 2 (Spring 1982), p 17]
Genesis 6:11-14 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
A year-long cataclysmic flood that covered the entire earth then followed. The massive amounts of debris and the scope of the upset to the surface of the earth as well as the atmosphere and the crust resulted in not only a flood event, but many years of floods and mudslides and glaciation and unsettled climactic conditions that resulted after the event itself.
Peter affirms this as real history in Second Peter 2:3-7 "3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
While geologists point at something like the Grand Canyon and claim that such a massive erosion had to have taken place over countless millenia. Yet, the 1980 Mt St Helens volcanic explosion is evidence to the contrary. Stratified layers up to 400 feet thick formed as a result of landslides, pyroclastic flow, mudflows, etc., during the Mt. St. Helens eruption. Fine laminae from only a millimeter thick to more than a meter high formed in just a few seconds each. A deposit more than 25 feet in thickness, and containing upwards of 100 thin layers accumulated in just one day on June 12, 1980. Naturalists have long claimed that stratified layer such as those found in the geological column have accumulated over vast periods of time, and these laminates represent long season variations or annual changes. However, the Mt. St. Helens deposits have demonstrated that catastrophic processes are able to create these geological formations in a short period of time.
When the volcanic event of March of 1982 began, the snows atop the mountain within the crater were almost instantly melted and a flow of water and mud came roaring down the slopes at a speed of around 100 miles per hour. A canyon similar to the Grand Canyon, only smaller, was formed, with the same meandering features and multiple rock layers in one day's time. This canyon measuring as tall as 140 feet and as up to 600 feet wide, with a tiny little flow of a creek meandering along at the bottom. If a rapidly melted snowcap could produce such a structure, imagine how easily the Grand Canyon could have been formed as a result of a world-wide flood that covers the entire planet and the aftermath thereof?
It has been said that, since the Colorado River would have had to flow uphill at points to form the Grand Canyon that the canyon made the river rather than the river making the canyon. This is certainly true of the Mt St Helens canyon pictured above, now known as the Little Grand Canyon of the Toutle River. Certainly the Grand Canyon is bigger...but the way it came about was certainly catastrophic and not a result of millions of years!
Eight times the story of Noah is mentioned directly in the New Testament. Jesus said this in Luke 17:26-27 " 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all."
The Noahic Flood is directly referenced in the Gospels, in I and II Peter and in Hebrews. The name Noah appears in 48 Old Testament and 8 New Testament verses. Several other verses discuss the Flood without the name of Noah. But the primary passages concerning the Flood are Genesis chapters 6-8. You cannot read these verses and begin to think they describe a local flood, the description is that of a major destruction of the surface and ecosystem of an entire planet.
After the Flood, God gave Noah's family a charge similar to the one originally given to Adam. He added a new feature in that now mankind was allowed to eat meat without sinning against God. Previously only plants had been given for food.
Genesis 9:1-3 "1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."
A new planet had been formed out of the old. It is probable that God gave man the right to be a carnivore because the conditions on planet Earth would now be more difficult than they had been pre-flood. There is evidence to support that, but for now we will stay with the Bible.
Conclusion: The Bible proclaims a six day creation period, a literal Adam and a literal fall from innocence into sin. This FALL brought forth death and eventually led to the destruction of the "world that then was" by means of a catastrophic world-wide flood, which produced the vast majority of all fossils and sedimentary rock found on the planet today. Jesus Christ came to save man from the penalty of sin and restore his relationship with God. Jesus affirmed the story of creation and of the flood. He identified Himself as the Messiah and the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world. If His witness was faulty and His mission unnecessary, there is no Christianity for there can be no salvation from a fall that never happened via a Savior who is unreliable and redundant.
The Christian faith depends entirely on the concept that the Bible is true, the inspired Word of God and that the days of creation and the flood narrative is actual history rather than mythology. There is no room for millions of years of death and misery within the faith, nor is there need of them. Evolution cannot be fit into the scriptures and the removal of the Book of Genesis from the Bible is tantamount to removing the foundation from a house, for everything falls apart if the foundation is not secure. Jesus Christ is neither Savior nor even prophet if Genesis is not reliable. There is no reasonable basis for Theistic Evolution if the Bible is the Word of God.
Paul said this in Galatians chapter One verses 6-10 "6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
Edited by Dr John Ashton
Werner Gitt, information science
Dr Gitt is director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, Germany. He is the head of the Department of Information Technology. He holds a diploma in engineering from the Technical University of Hanover and a doctorate in engineering summa cum laude together with Borchers Medal from the Technical University of Aachen. Dr Gitt has published numerous research papers covering the fields of information science, numerical mathematics, and control engineering. He is the author of the recent creation book In the Beginning Was Information.1
A while back, there was a panel discussion in Bremen, Germany, on creation/evolution. The invited participants were a geologist, a palaeontologist, a Catholic priest, a protestant minister, and myself as an information scientist. Before long, the moderator asked, “How long did creation take?” The palaeontologist and the geologist were quickly unanimous—millions of years. When the clergy were asked, both were very definite that, nowadays, theology had no problem with millions of years. Even billions of years could be effortlessly interpreted into the creation days. Finally the moderator asked me for my opinion. I answered as follows:
For me, as an information scientist, the key question is the source of information. Regarding the length of the creation days, there is only one information source, and that is the Bible. In the Bible, God tells us that He created everything in six days.
Since no one else could nominate a source for their opinion, this part of the discussion stopped dead in its tracks.
The question of the length of the creation days has aroused much passion. Adherents to theistic evolution try to interpret the creation account to allow for long timespans. There have been many attempts to arrive at “long creation days.” Here are four examples.
The “day-age” theory: The expression “day” is interpreted as actually meaning a long period of time. “Ages,” “periods,” or “epochs” of time are referred to. Psalm 90:4 is frequently used for justification: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday [i.e., one day] when it is past.”
The “days-of-revelation” theory: The days of Genesis are not viewed as days of creation, but as days of revelation. This assumes that the various statements in this account were progressively revealed to the writer in six consecutive days. The motive is clearly to avoid the idea that creation actually took place within these 24-hour periods.
The “movie” theory: Originating with Hans Rohrbach, this concept tries to explain the creation account as if it were time-lapse cinematography of a process which “in reality” took a long period of time. He writes that “It is as if the prophet is seeing a film, in which the mighty process of creation, compressed using time-lapse photography, is screened in front of him. He sees movement, a happening and becoming, hears God speaking; he observes the earth becoming clothed in the green of plant life, and sees everything graphically, like a modern 3-D widescreen film in sound and color.”2
The “literary-days” theory: This maintains that the creation days are merely a literary device, in order to establish a thematic structure. According to this concept, the individual “creation days” are to be regarded like the chapters of a book.
The length of the days of creation
There is a widespread opinion that the creation account is only concerned with communicating “the fact that God actually created.” However, this it totally implausible in light of the numerous precise statements contained in Genesis. If God had only wanted to tell us that He was behind everything, then the first verse of Genesis would be enough. However, the many particulars in the account make it quite clear that God wants to give us much more information than that. In the account of creation we have not only conveyed to us matters relevant to faith and belief, but also a range of facts which have scientific significance. These facts are so foundational to a true understanding of this world that they immediately distinguish themselves from all other beliefs, from the cosmologies of ancient people and from the imaginings of today’s natural philosophy.
The creation account of the Bible stands alone in its declarations. Here we find none of the ancient mythical imaginings of the world and its origin, but here rather we find the living God communicating reality, the truth about origins. The course of correct or false biblical exposition is firmly set, according to the expositor’s convictions, on the first page of the Bible. Separating “faith” from “science” (widely practiced in the Western world), has frequently driven Christians into the ghetto of a contemplative inner piety, which fails to achieve any penetrating effect upon their surroundings, while science is driven into the wasteland of godless ideologies and philosophical systems.
As a result, it has been widely presupposed that biblical statements about the origin of the universe, life, and in particular mankind (as well as nations and languages) are not scientifically trustworthy. This has had grave consequences. Alexander Evertz bemoaned the rampant worldwide spiritual decline as follows:
Belief in the Creator is now largely only a display piece in the glass case of dogmatics. It resembles the stuffed birds one sees perching on rods in a museum.3
We should be thankful for the details God has seen fit to reveal to us in Genesis, this brief glimpse at the origin of this world and life. Thus, we note that God created everything in six days. That they were really 24-hour days, that is solar days or calendar days, should be settled by way of several arguments.
The day as a unit of time
In order to describe physical processes quantitatively, one needs a method of measuring and a corresponding unit. The Bible repeatedly uses technical parameters of measurement in describing the length, area, or volume of something. The units are generally taken from nature or daily life, e.g., the cubit represents the distance from elbow to fingertips. The span is the spread of the fingers of one hand. An acre is that area able to be plowed with a yoke of oxen in one day. One of the most important units is that of time. It is the first unit defined in the Bible. In Genesis 1:14 this takes place at the same time as the other purposes of the heavenly bodies are stated. Their function is as light bearers and to divide day from night. Also, to define the time-units “day,” “year,” and “seasons” and as signs pointing to particular happenings (e.g., Matt. 24:29 regarding the end times).
With the definition of day and year, mankind is given reproducible units. These enable us to quantify statements about the age of something, the distance by which two occurrences are separated in time, or the duration of a process. Thus the unit “day” is utilized to inform us of the duration of the work of creation: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is” (Exod. 20:11).
So we should trust God’s Word, because “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Num. 23:19). If God really took billions of years in order to create everything, why does He then tell us it was only a matter of days?
The meaning of the word “day” in the Bible
The word “day” occurs in the Bible 2,182 times4 and is used overwhelmingly in the literal sense. Just as in English, German, and many other languages, the word “day” (Hebrew yom) can have two meanings. The first is a time period of (roughly) 24 hours, which also includes the night. This is how calendar days are measured. The second meaning would be the daylight portion of a calendar day (e.g., Gen. 1:5, 8:22; Josh. 1:8). In the creation account, the words “day and night” (Gen. 1:5, 14–18) occur nine times in the sense of referring only to the light or dark portion of a normal 24-hour day.
In exceptional cases, which are always clearly identifiable by the context, “day” means not a physically or astronomically definable span of time, but specially designated occurrences such as “the day of the Lord,” “the day of Judgment,” and “the day of Salvation.” In John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work,” the word “day” is immediately recognizable from the context as referring to a nonphysical timespan in which it is possible to work. In over 95 percent of cases, the word for day indicates 24 hours.
“Day” with a numeral
The word “day,” associated with a numeral, occurs in the Old Testament over 200 times. In all of these cases, a 24-hour day is indicated. At the end of the account concerning each of the six creation days, we read (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), “And there was evening, and there was morning the first [to sixth] day.” So here we always have the grammatical construction “numeral in connection with day.”
“Evening and Morning”
The fact that each of the intervals of creation is bounded by “evening and morning” is a further indication that the creation days were ordinary 24-hour days. The word “evening” occurs 49 times and the word “morning” 187 times, always in the literal sense. If “day” were supposed to mean a long epoch of time, it would not be bounded by such precisely-named descriptions of times of day. The Old Testament consistently observes the same sequence of these times of day, i.e., evening followed by morning (e.g., Ps. 55:17; Dan. 8:14, 8:26). A new day starts with evening (sundown) and ends with the beginning of the evening on the following day. With this definition of a day, the sequential flow of these times of day is “evening-morning.” Thus, we read literally (Elberf. translation): “And it became evening, and it became morning: first day.”
Creation days and God’s omnipotence
The works of creation demonstrate the omnipotence of God and His mighty power (Rom. 1:20), the outworking of which is not tied to long periods of time. Throughout the Bible there are countless instances of acts of creation, which take place without any passage of time. The creation miracles of Jesus in the New Testament (wine at the wedding in Cana, loaves and fishes at the feeding of the 5,000) took place instantly. Psalm 33:9 also testifies to the rapid nature of God’s creative acts: “For He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” This is exactly the same impression conveyed by the creation account itself through the repeated use of the constructions: “And God said … and it was so.” “And God said … and God saw” (that which had just been created).
If we were to here arbitrarily insert the oft-cited millions of years, we would rob God of the honor which is His due. The total testimony of the Bible, in all manner of ways, is that of instant results in response to the commands of God. Whatever the situation, this principle is valid—a command of the Lord is sufficient, and spontaneously the created Word is fulfilled: the blind immediately see, the dumb instantly speak, the lame take up their bed and walk, lepers become clean, and the dead rise without delay.
Mankind: Created on a particular day
The Bible emphatically testifies that man was not created over a long period of time, but on a very particular day: “In the day, that God created Adam, He made him in the likeness of God; male and female He created them, and He blessed them and gave them the name ‘mankind,’ in the day, that they were created” (Gen. 5:1–2; Elberf. translation).
The question about the duration of the creation days arises frequently. I believe it can be shown from a biblical and scientific viewpoint that one can have full confidence in the biblical account of a creation in six ordinary days.
References and notes
- Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, Christliche Literatur-Vertreitung, Bielefeld, Germany, 1997.
- Hans Rohrbach, Ein neuer Zugang zum Schöpfungsbericht (A New Approach to the Creation Account), Schritte, pp. 5–10, 1982.
- Alexander Evertz, Martin Luther als Christ, als Mensch und als Deutscher (Martin Luther as a Christian, as a Person and as a German), Assendorf, 1982.
- Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Zondervan Pub. House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1961.