Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Why I Reject A Young Earth View: A Biblical Defense of an Old Earth

The question of the meaning and proper interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis is one of the most heated subjects in Christendom today. Few other topics have evoked such polarised opinion and division. The diversity of views on Genesis, even among the most learned of exegetes and scholars, is staggering. While one extreme insists that the days of Genesis must strictly be interpreted as seven consecutive 24-hour periods (thus rendering the earth very young indeed — in the order of thousands, and not millions or billions, of years old), at the other extreme lies the notion that the early chapters of Genesis are devoid of any historical content at all. On the latter view, Genesis 1 comprises a mythological allegory; Adam and Eve are reduced to mere literary devices; and the historicity of Noah’s Flood is typically abandoned altogether. There is a plethora of competing views which reside in the middle of those polar extremes: Examples include the Day-Age Theory; the Gap Theory; and various forms of progressive creationism. In this article, I attempt to show that, while it is possible to interpret the book of Genesis in light of a young earth, there is no Biblical mandate for this conclusion: That is to say, Genesis could be interpreted in that manner, but it does not have to be.

I am trained as a scientist (I’m a postgraduate student in evolutionary biology). And, as a scientist, the arguments for an ancient earth seem to be very compelling (needless to say, when it comes to Darwinian evolution, it is a very different story). In this article, however, I simply want to read and understand the text on its own terms, not missing what the text is saying; but, at the same time, not adding to it what simply isn’t there. Having shown that Genesis does not require that one read it as conveying a young earth, I hope that readers will be convinced that we can thus read and understand the science on its own terms as well. It seems to me that there are three major subtopics which an article of this nature must address. These are:

  1. The proper interpretation of Genesis One.
  2. The question of the fall of man, human sin and its consequences.
  3. The scale and scope of the Flood of Noah.

The proper interpretation of Genesis One

In approaching the text of Genesis 1, we notice that there are certain features which are suggestive that the text need not be read as necessitating that we take a young-earth view. Let’s take a look at each in turn.

First, there is the fact that the initial creation act described in verses 1 and 2 is separated from the six days of creation which proceed it. Consider the first three verses of Genesis 1:

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.

Notice that there is a definite pattern associated with the days described in Genesis 1. Each one begins with “And God said…and ends with “And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day.” This being so, there is the implication that day 1 commences in verse 3, while the description in verses 1-2 of God creating the heavens and the earth precedes it. This conclusion receives still further support from the fact that the verb “created” in verse 1 is in the perfect tense, whereas the use of the narrative tense begins in verse 3. When the perfect tense is used at the start of a pericope, its purpose is ordinarily to denote an event which sets the background and context of the storyline: That is to say, it takes place before the rest of the story gets underway. This implies that verses 1 and 2 occurred an undisclosed period of time prior to the first day! This means that, quite aside from how one interprets the days of Genesis 1, the origin of the Universe (and, indeed, the earth) occurs, as far as the information provided in Scripture is concerned, at an indeterminate time in the past.

Second, there is the fact that, in the original Hebrew, there is no definite article pertinent to the first five days, whereas there is a definite article associated with the sixth and seventh day, which seems to suggest there is something special — or different — about those latter two days. One possibility, which has been entertained by some, is that the writer did not intend us to take the first six days as consecutive days of a single earth week, but, instead, as a sequence of six creation days: That is to say, days of 24-hour duration in which God supernaturally infuses novelty at punctuated intervals. On this view, it may well be the case that the individual days were separated from one another by unspecified periods of time.

Third, there is this whole business of the seventh (or, Sabbath) day of rest. Consider the first two verses of Genesis 2:

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Do you notice something peculiar about the seventh day? What ever happened to the “evening” and “morning”? For the first six days, the text, at the close of each day, states that “And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day.” This stands in stark contrast with the seventh day, for which it is curiously missing. This has led some exegetes to argue that the seventh day, on which God rests, may be continous, and that we may still be residing in it. This gains traction from Hebrews 4:3-7, which states,

3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never
enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

If, therefore, it may be considered legitimate to take the seventh day as representative of a much longer period of time, then whence the mandate for supposing a commitment to interpreting the other six days as representative of 24-hour periods?

Fourth, there is the multiple-usage of the word “day” in Genesis 1. Let’s take a look at the manner in which the word “day” is used in the Genesis 1 (up to 2:4) narrative alone:

  1. Genesis 1:5a: “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.” Here, “day” is contrasted with “night”: Thus, a 24-hour day is not in view, but rather “day” in the sense of “daytime” (i.e. 12 hours).
  2. Genesis 1:5b: “And there was evening and there was morning — the first day.” Here, the word does indeed mean a 24-hour day.
  3. Genesis 2:3: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” To this, I have already alluded — the key point here is the absence of “evening” and “morning”, which denotes all of the previous six days.
  4. The correct rendering of the Hebrew with respect to Genesis 2:4 is “This is the account of the heavens and the earth in the day they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”

Fifth, it may be noticed that days 1-3 form a triad that corresponds to the triad formed by days 4-6. In day 1, God creates the light and distinguishes it from darkness; whereas on day 4, God creates the sun, moon and stars. On day 2, God separates the sky and sea; whereas, on day 5, God creates birds and sea creatures. On day 3, God causes dry land to appear; whereas on day 6, God creates the land animals and humans. This pattern may suggest that the exact chronological sequence of events is not in mind here.

Sixth, in verses 11-14 of Genesis 1, we read the following:

11 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. 12 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. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Notice that the text says “Let the land produce vegetation…”. This may suggest that God allowed the trees and vegetation to germinate and grow by virtue of natural processes. This on its own may suggest that the duration of this day was significantly longer than 24 hours! Further notice that Genesis 2:8 says, “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east…” This also suggests that God planted a garden which he thus caused to grow. Though I reject Darwinian evolution for scientific reasons, Genesis 1:24 could be interpreted as compatible with certain forms of evolution: “And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind. [emphasis added]”

Seventh, many features of Genesis 1 bear a striking similarity to texts concerned with the temple, a phenomenon which has given rise to various understandings of Genesis 1 as a description of the “cosmic temple.” For one thing, there is the curious fact that the number seven appears so pervasively in temple accounts in the ancient world and in the Bible. Thus, the seven days of the Genesis account of origins has a familiarity that can hardly be coincidental and tells us something about the seven-day structure in Genesis 1. Furthermore, in the outer courtyard of the temple were representations of various aspects of cosmic geography. For instance, there was the water basin which 1 Kings 7:23-26 designates “sea”, and the bronze pillars, described in 1 Kings 7:15-22, which perhaps represented the pillars of the earth. The horizontal axis in the temple was arranged in the same order as the vertical axis in the cosmos. From the courtyard, one would move into the organised cosmos as he entered the antechamber, which is where one would find the Menorah, the Table of Bread and the incense alter. In the descriptions of the Tabernacle, the lamb and its olive oil are provided for “light” (which is the same word used to describe the celestial bodies in day four). Then there is, of course, the veil which separates the earthly sphere from the heavenly sphere which is the dwelling place of God (thus serving the same symbolic function as the firmament). One could continue on and on in the same vein. This parallelism is particularly striking when one considers that, as John Walton points out in The Lost World of Genesis One, the temple’s inauguration ceremony was completed by God taking up his rest in the temple, as he, in fact, does on day seven.

In regard to the fourth day of Creation Week, which is often a point of tension (it is on day 4 that God apparently creates the sun, moon and stars, after the creation of both plants and light, as well as the progression of days 1-3, which presumably required the sun), the verb “made” in Genesis 1:16 does not specifically mean ‘create’, but can instead refer to ‘working on something that is already there’ or even ‘appointed’. Such an interpretation makes sense in the context of the very next verse, in which we are told that the function of the sun and moon is as visible lights in the sky. If this interpretation is correct, it would entail that God appoints the role of the sun and moon, and is not a reference to their creation de novo.

A discussion of the meaning of Genesis 1 would not be complete without some mention of Exodus 20:11, which occurs in the context of the ten commandments which God gives to Moses. We read, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” As John Lennox observes in his recent book, Seven Days that Divide the World, however, “there [are] similarities between God’s creation week and our work week, but also obvious differences. God’s week happened once; ours is repeated. God’s creative activity is very different from ours; God does not need rest as we do, and so on. So it is not possible to draw straight lines from Genesis to our working week. God’s week is a pattern for ours, but it is not identical. Thus Exodus 20:8-11 does not demand that the days of Genesis 1 be the days of a single week, although it could of course be interpreted in that way.”

While one could continue in this vein, enough has been said. Let’s move on to consider our second question, which is concerned with the Fall of man, human sin, and its consequences.

What Exactly Happened at the Fall?

One of the most frequent theological arguments for a young-earth pertains to the common presumption that death did not exist prior to the Fall. The claim is based upon several demonstrably false assumptions. For one thing, it cannot be dogmatically specified (from a young earth standpoint) which particular class of living creatures for which suffering and death before the fall is unacceptable. The insistence that physical death is the immediate (‘on the day’) result of the fall makes God a liar and the snake the truth-teller. Thus the argument is based entirely on a fallacy.

Further, the text of Genesis 1-3 nowhere states that there was no death prior to the Fall. Certainly, the second law of thermodynamics (things tending toward increased entropy) was in place, for they were eating plants and fruit. So, at least some kind of death and degradation preceded the Fall. We also know that God said to Eve that he would greatly increase her pains in childbearing, not give her ones which she did not have before. God’s statement, ‘in the day you eat of it you shall die’ was said only to the first human being and had no relationship at all to any of the other animals, as is indeed the context of Romans 5 which addresses this very issue. The view that all animals were herbivores and that following the fall there was an instant re-creation act, in which body chemistry and behaviour patterns were changed seems to be an enormous extrapolation and an unwarranted eisegetical reading into the text. The Tyrannosaur was a machine designed for killing. According to the young earth view, not only would its teeth and anatomical and physiological features need to be radically altered, but it would require a whole new digestive system. Then we have the fact that the names of the animals which Adam named prior to the Fall have connotations of violence. For example, the Hebrew name for lion is derived from the Hebrew root that means ‘in the sense of violence’. The young-earth creationist typically objects by pointing to Genesis 1:29-30 which says,

“Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’”

This is taken to imply that all of life was herbivorous. But it seems that such an interpretation is going beyond what the text itself actually says. The text does not say that animals were created to be herbivorous. It says they were given the green plants for food: It doesn’t tell us that plants were their exclusive diet.

As I said previously, Adam did not die physically on the day that he ate of the tree, but lived a full life afterwards. The conclusion is thus necessitated that God was not talking about biological death or that he was not intending it to be taken literally. To quote N.T. Wright, “The result is that death, which was always part of the natural transience of the good creation, gains a second dimension, which the Bible sometimes calls ‘spiritual death’.”

Another complaint that is often made is that we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth being restored to their former perfection where "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them," (Isaiah 11:16). With this I agree. But my view of the new creation is that it will not only be restored to its original condition. But that it will also be made better than the original Creation: That is to say, it will be restored and more! In light of such an understanding, I am also inclined to find this argument similarly unpersuasive.

What About The Flood?

Another frequent objection to an old earth lies with the apparently global scope of the Flood. But this argument, too, hardly seems watertight. For one thing, it fails to take into account that the ancients often spoke of localized or regional events in hyperbolic terms. One does not need to look too far for examples. Consider the following from the Old and New Testaments:

  1. Genesis 41:57 - “And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.”
  2. 1 Kings 10:24 - “The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.”
  3. Luke 2:1 - “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire world.”
  4. John 12:19 - “So the pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
  5. Acts 2:5 - “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”
  6. Romans 1:8 - “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.”
  7. Colossians 1:6 - “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”

The ancient Hebrews did not think of “the world” as being a spherical globe, as one would today. Rather, to say that God had “flooded the world” would be simply to say that God had “flooded the known world” or “the land”. Indeed, 2 Peter 3:6 reports that, “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. [emphasis added]”.

One feature of the Flood narrative, which is often overlooked, is the statement that“on the seventeenth day of the seventh month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, [emphasis added]“. This stand in marked contrast with respect to the often quoted “the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat.”According to Armenian scholars, “the mountains of Ararat” cover an area of about 100,000 square miles of eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, western Iraq, and southern Russia.Since the focal point of the flood is Mesopotamia, it seems probable that the ark came to rest in the foothills of Ararat, which is just north of Ninivah. Moreover, it must be borne in mind, the Hebrew word for mountains, har, is a general term referring to any geologic relief, from a small hill up to a towering peak, which makes sense of Genesis 7:19, which reports that “They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered.”

One point that is often raised in support of a global flood is the rainbow which God set in the sky as a reminder of His promise never to flood the earth in that manner again (Genesis 9:12-17). Young earth creationists like to point out that there have been many local floods since the time of Noah, and thus the Genesis Flood must be understood as a global event. But this point fails if you take the view (as I do) that the Flood was universal with respect to its impact on human civilisation. It wiped out all of humanity save for those who were onboard the Ark. And, indeed, no such Flood ever since has done such a thing.

One slightly more difficult point is the question of why Noah would build an Ark rather than simply leaving the vicinity. However, it is possible that God wanted to use the Ark as a prototype of Christ (the story is dripping — no pun intended — with Christological symbolism). It is also possible that He wanted to give the repentant sinner opportunity until the last minute to board the vessel, and it would have taken time to escape the vicinity of the Flood.


In this short essay, I have hoped to show that, while Genesis 1 allows for the strict “seven-consecutive-24hour-day” interpretation, it does not demand that we take it that way. While one wants to be careful to consider all of Scripture, we must be similarly careful not to read beyond what the text actually says. While the issue of the age of the earth will undoubtedly continue to be a point of disagreement among Christians, it should not be made into a hill on which to die. It should not be a point over which the church should divide. As we read in Romans 14, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.” Old earth and young earth advocates ought to unite under the banner which is the glorious Gospel of Christ. Salvation is not contingent on what one believes about the age of the earth. This article has not, of course, dealt with the larger issues of science, nor has it offered a scientific critique of the young-earth perspective. What I have hoped to show, however, is that the Bible is silent on matters concerning the age of the cosmos and world. We may thus turn to science and other realms of epistemology — engaging with them on their own terms — for the answers to these questions.


  1. Interesting article; however, there are numerous issues in your representation not just of the Young Earth position on the various matters you engaged, but also in the overall understanding of the holistic message of scripture both within the context of Genesis as well as other principles that hearken back to the foundational chapters of Scripture, namely Genesis 1-11.

    Space does not allow me the opportunity to engage all of the issues with your approach to this topic in a comment box. With that said, I plan on interacting with all of the points you have raised in this particular blog post not as a means to continue to stoke the fire of debate, but rather to point out the importance of affirming concepts such as no death before sin and a worldwide destructive flood, etc. Such a response will be available on my own blog intelmin.org.

    Scripture is far from silent on these issues and to portary scripture as being silent while calling for unity under the salvation message is to some degree to miss the overall point of why salvation is required in the first place. Humanity and the universe needed and still needs saving due to the impact of sin and death, two issues which thrust their ugly head only after the entrance of sin into a perfect world.

    I will certainly not lay claim to having all of the answers nor would I submit are other YECs as we all need to continually be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and not science or theological luminaries when it comes to understanding Scripture. However, using terms such as demonstrably false (which seems to be a hallmark phrase of OECs or those supporting what some have labeled as Big Tent Orthodoxy) in relation to the YEC position does not demonstrate that perspective to actually be false.

    More to come....

    God bless.

  2. In regards to the meaning of the Hebrew word for lion, there is both a masculine and feminine aspect. It depends on the context as to whether the word for lion is אֲרִי transliterated as 'ariy (used in verses such as Num 23:24) or whether the word is לָבִיא transliterated as labiy' (used in verses such as Deut 33:20).

    'ariy comes from a word that just means lion coming from a root word that at first glance might give the idea of have the idea of violence. With that said, the root of this particular word is אָרָה transliterated as 'arah
    having the meaning more of plucking or gathering as in the idea of gathering grapes.

    labiy' also has the meaning of either lion or lioness depending on the context. This word comes from a relatively unused root meaning to roar. labiy' is understood to be often used in the more poetic sense such as its use in Deut 33:20.

    To some degree, using lion as we understand the lion to be in our present fallen world as a means to comprehend life in a perfect sinless world devoid of death is not a proper approach. Additionally, laying claim to lion having a root meaning of a "sense of violence" is insufficient when the larger semantic range of the word and its various uses in the OT are taken into consideration. Most certainly this side of the curse on humanity, the animal kingdom and the entire universe allows for an understanding of a lion as we observe it today. Our current perspective of how life operates must not mar our understanding of the Biblical message of a world that once was devoid of sin and death, the true impact of sin and death, and the now and not yet understanding of Christ's return with the removal of the curse placed on all things in Genesis 3.

  3. Looking forward to reading (and responding to) your rebuttal, Michael!


  4. A worthwhile post.
    I prefer Wiseman's explanation of 6 literal days separated by lots of time. The 4th day is at a time when the atmosphere has become dry enough to allow the sun and stars to be seen. This means that each morning and evening is literal. See the short article at http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/embarrassingbible/genesis1.aspx.

    On the local flood, Noah would not be able to walk to safety if the whole of the Tigris-Euphrates valley was flooded (140,000 sq miles). He needed to boat to survive. See the short article at http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/embarrassingbible/genesis6.aspx

    David Instone-Brewer

  5. Very nice piece. I'm generally a young-earther in the sense that I don't accept the purported long ages taught by secular science, I don't believe that natural processes as we observe them today are the key to understanding the origin of the universe and scripture seems to indicate that long ages weren't used or even necessary. However, I agree that there could be more to the story. My only issue is with your title. You say that you "reject" a young earth view but you conclude that "Genesis 1 allows" for it. So maybe a better title would be something like, "Why I accept an old earth view..." Anyway, just some feedback.

    I would add that just as it's important to consider that there's more to the story, it's important to teach the strict “seven-consecutive-24hour-day” interpretation as a strong and defensible possibility. Christians ought to know that scripture can be completely trusted either way.

  6. I agree with your first commenter. You really haven't engaged any of the rebuttals to the stuff you lay out here. You seem to have no knowledge of Jonathan Sarfati's book, Refuting Compromise, which interacts and responds to pretty much everything you raise. I would also add "Coming to Grips with Genesis" which is a collection of articles dealing with Genesis issues, especially the grammar and the way the text is supposed to be read.

    Honestly, if you haven't really read either of those books (perhaps you have) and seriously engaged their arguments, you haven't provided a defense of your position. At this point you seem to be parroting Hugh Ross and his guys.

    Some questions on the death issue. I'm assuming that if you believe death existed before sin entered the world, then you are of the opinion that it is a "good" element within God's initial creation. How could death not be "good" if it played such an important role in shaping life on the earth, correct? Or would you care to clarify?

    If it is "good" (because I can't see how you can honestly get around saying it isn't if it existed before Adam's sin) why is it described as the last enemy in 1 Cor. 15:26? Death is always painted in scripture as an intruder into God's creation. Disease, famine, and suffering leading to physical death, are sent by God as judgment upon men and the land and animals suffer with them. Yet if these things existed previous to Adam's fall, why are they now "bad" and a sure sign of God's curse? What is the point of "death" being removed from the New Heavens and Earth which is contrasted with the former things (where "death" now resides)?

    I pull these items from a larger article I wrote on the subject here: http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2010/06/hard-truths-for-theistic-evolutionists_20.html and there is an important paper linked at the end by Fred Van Dyke on the subject. I'd encourage you to read it.

  7. I followed the link in your last paragraph, Fred, and it's not hard. It seems very strange to me that any Christian that has read the whole Bible would be confused into thinking that the death that came upon Adam when he sinned was physical death. The death that came upon Adam was already on you and me (Eph. 2:1) until we came to Christ. We were already dead, says the apostle, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't physically dead before I came to Christ.

    The same with, say, Rom. 8:12-13. That passage is senseless if it's talking about physical death. Then it would have to say, "If you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, then you'll die anyway."

    And Jonathon's article above already answers your argument. If Adam's sin brought physical death upon him, then in the garden God was the liar and the serpent the one who was telling the truth because Adam did not physically die in the day he ate of it.

    Like this link you gave, I have consistently found that "hard truths" for theistic evolutionists are generally rehashed arguments that either have no basis in truth or have been refuted repeatedly for decades. Anyone willing to spend 6 months studying could answer all of them.

    I hope that's not too harsh to say, but that has been my experience.

  8. Hi Jonathan,

    The Hebrews passage does not teach that the seventh day is eternal, as some have suggested. Rather, it teaches that the rest which began on the seventh day is eternal. Regarding the word for "day", I think "and then there was evening and then there was morning" makes it pretty clear what sort of days we are talking about in the context of Genesis one.

    It's true that the days are ordered in a panel structure, they are also organised as a chiasm:

    Day 1: Light
    Day 2: Firmament/mediator
    Day 3: Land and sea
    Day 4: Sovereign lights
    Day 5: Birds (land) and fish (sea)
    Day 6: Man as mediator
    Day 7: Sovereign rest

    However, there is order to everything God does. That does not mean that these are not literal days.

    Next up, it's the 'no sun on day one' issue. Consider psalm 104, which is a meditation on creation and roughly follows the pattern of the seven days. Notice how the reflection upon day one is "covering Yourself with light as with a cloak" (v2). This implies that the light of day one is the light of God's own glory. Namely it is Christ, the "radiance of His [God's] glory" (Heb 1:3) shining out into the newly created world. No need for a sun on day one.

    I agree with your point about the temple as well, except that you've got it all back to front. The creation was the original temple, the tabernacle and and temple which came later on in redemptive history were copies of the universe. There is a threefold structure, namely:

    Courtyard = earth
    Holy place = firmament heaven
    Most Holy place = highest heaven

    As you go further into the temple, you 'ascend' into God's presence, into heaven. It is crucial though to remember that Genesis 1 was written before the tabernacle and temple were built, so the latter must be a reflection upon the former.

    The last issue I will address is the death before the fall issue. I believe that the death referred to in Genesis 2-3 is literal human death. It is not concerned with animal death, which I believe began to occur as a consequence of human death. Against this view is the fact that Adam and Eve did not die in the day that they ate the fruit. That may be true, but something else died in their stead:

    "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." (Gen 3:21)

    And so we have the gospel message right here in Genesis 3. God provides a substitute for them, so that they don't have to bear the curse of death themselves. And this substitute points towards Christ, who will one day bear the death penalty on their behalf. It is because of Jesus' death on the cross that any of us gets to live even a single day. This is what reformed theologians commonly refer to as 'common grace'. But I digress.

    To sum it all up, I cannot see a single persuasive argument against a six-day creationist interpretation of Genesis 1. The main reason why I personally believe in the six-day position is due to Exodus 20:8-11. I think the analogy between God working six days and resting and us doing likewise builds a pretty solid foundation for a six-day position.

  9. Hello again,

    I feel I should also address the finer textual issues you brought up.

    First, there is the “gap” between verses 2 and 3. It is certainly possible that a long period of time elapsed before God spoke, however, the context renders it unlikely. I say this because verse 2 ends with “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the deep.” This creates suspense and implies that something is about to happen.

    Second, the last two days get definite articles because they are special. The sixth day features the creation of mankind (the pinnacle of creation) and the seventh day is the sabbath-enthronement of God. None of this goes against a literal creation week. You still have a clear sequence of six days followed by a seventh.

    Third, the fact that there is no “evening and morning” at the end of the seventh day would be decisive if the context wasn’t there. But the context is there – this is the last day of a complete week! The phrase may have been missed off to maintain suspense as we head into the second section of the creation account, or it could be that it is there to keep the rest ‘open’ for us to enter, as you have suggested. This doesn’t make the seventh day a longer day than the others!

    Fourth, the word for ‘day’ does have a variety of meanings; but context determines meaning. I have already dealt with your fifth point about the panel structure – I don’t think it suggests what you think it does.

    Sixth, “Let the land produce” implies that the land literally produces living creatures there and then. After all, Adam is formed from the literal dust of the ground in a special event, why not other creatures? If God tells the rocks to cry out, they cry out. If he commands the walls of Jericho to fall, they fall. Why not here too?

    Seventh, there are many beautiful things going on in Genesis 1. If only more texts in the bible were this controversial – imagine the wonderful biblical-theological parallels we would spot that we are probably missing out on at present! You even have that threefold structure again in Genesis 2:

    Garden of Eden – Most holy place
    Land of Eden – Holy place
    Other lands – Courtyard

    Regarding the heavenly lights, a different word is used because of the symbolism of lights in the sky. They represent rulers (hence “govern” – v16) and the times and seasons represent laws and decrees (see Isaiah 14 as an example). Hence the lights are ‘appointed’ rather than ‘created’. However, given that the other five days of work involve the creation of things, I would suggest that this is concerned with the creation of the sun, moon and stars as well as their appointment. Remember that they are taking over from the shining Glory-light of God’s Spirit-anointed Son (day 1), so this is an act of delegation.

    I have already addressed the issue of death; however, there is one thing I should probably mention. Verses 29-30 do not suggest that the animals were not to eat each other. Having said that, they certainly imply that the animals didn’t eat one another and I don’t think anyone would be making such an objection to a plain implication of the text if this wasn’t a controversial point. However, I must agree that the second creation will be more glorious. There will not only be no death or pain, but the whole earth will be cultivated and glorified and filled with a whole host of Adams and Eves! There will be continuity with the pre-fall creation, but there will also be significant development – otherwise the whole history inbetween would be but a meaningless parenthesis! I am glad we can agree on this point.

    Best regards,


  10. Excellent article. (correction here? "First, there is the fact that the initial creation act described in verses 1 and 2 is separated from the six days of creation which proceed [from] it."

  11. Interesting, and you are to be commended for coming at these well-worn arguments from some fresh perspectives. However, I have yet to find an argument for OEC that addresses all the core aspects of the YEC argument in a satisfying way. For example: the linguisitic arguments for "yom," the fact that in the OEC scenario God declared a world "good" even with death in it,the numerous mentions of "all" "every," etc in the Genesis description of the Flood, the unique Hebrew term for "Flood," the basic hermeneutical principle of taking the plain meaning of the text as it reads. Have you considered what violence a literal interpretation of Genesis would actually do to science? (Other than mass retractions?) It is clear that you have carefully considered many of the issues, but, overall, it still appears to be an attempt to accommodate a view that is seen as a necessary foundation for Darwinian Evolution. (I say "seen as" because even the posited billions of years are not enough for DE to have occurred, based purely on mathematical probabilities.) The YEC position is that age of the earth is NOT a secondary issue - because it speaks to the character and authority of God and to the reliability of Scripture - these points need to be debated, but OECs persist in just declaring themselves the adjudicator and saying that it is a secondary issue. The YEC argument is that age of the earth begins a compromise on the authority of Scripture by undermining the foundation of the Bible's inerrancy, its hamartiology,and the Gospel. The OEC response seems to be that proclaiming unsophisticated truth drives people away from Jesus and that the church should therefore soften its stance or prevaricate on the issue. This is not an appealing prospect to people who love all truth - Biblical and scientific.


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