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analysis of the Creation-Date Controversy and I hope you will find the research and contextual exploration helpful in your understanding and reading. I’m an academic at heart and a thinker by nature, so detailed analysis of Scripture is truly enriching not just to my mind but also to my spirit. Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (NASB). While the scientific, historical, and concordant information may be interesting to you, don’t allow this read to just be an intellectual and theological exercise. To conclude the research and rebuttals, I have included a “Conclusion” section that sums up the information and explains my reasoning for my own personal conclusion. The Bible is divided up into 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 31,173 verses, but it is one great story of God’s creation and redemption of humanity and the Creation Story is just one part of the greater story. For those that may be interested or curious, footnotes and formatting are in adherence with Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. I hope you enjoy and benefit from this research and analysis and I am always open to thoughts, questions, and suggestions.
Adam Young email@example.com www.scribd.com/AdamDeanYoung
2 Introduction I had planned on writing this introduction and disclaimer in the “Note From the Author” section but was afraid that it would get passed over in attempts to get to the main argument and research. The intent of this work is to explore and explain some of the leading theories behind the Creation-Date Controversy, and for me to personally come to a conclusion as to where I land. I wrote this for me, not for those who may read this on the internet, but have posted it for those who may have similar questions or are looking for an introductory survey on the theories without doing all the research that it would take to get a firm grasp on this subject. This work is only introductory and is not supposed to be or claim to be a full and complete survey on the issue. In an effort to stay focused and because of limitation of time (I don’t get paid to write) I narrowed my research and reading to only the major and influential theories and science. There are countless other theories not mentioned here and little nuances within each major theory for those who hold to them. My goal was to paint a broad picture of scientists and theologians’ attempts at reconciling science and Scripture. I primarily focused on the science of geology, because there are more disagreements there between science and Scripture and it is this science that began to call into question the age of the earth. There are sciences and scientists that use empirical data and research to support both young-earth and old-earth conclusions. This work does not give detailed analysis of the science and research, but uses more logical, philosophical, and theological arguments to come to its conclusions. I do plan, at a later date, to continue this research and supplement each argument with more detailed scientific data, other sciences (astronomy, biology, anatomy, etc.), as
3 well as more detailed coverage of various theologians and modern-day experts. But for now, I hope this helps bring new light to the controversy and assists you in coming to your own conclusions. The opinions, thoughts, and conclusions do not necessarily represent the local church in which I serve as one of the pastors, Ken Caryl Church (www.kencarylchurch.com) or the Southern Baptist Convention (www.sbc.net) under which I serve and minister. The Creation-Date Controversy The creation account in Genesis 1:1 begins by declaring God’s creation of the heavens and the earth; Genesis 1:2 states that the earth was formless and void; Genesis 1:3 begins a narration of six days in which the earth was formed and plant, fish, bird, and mammal life was created, climaxing in the creation of mankind. Many people have been taught that throughout the first seventeen centuries of Christian history there was general agreement on the six-twenty-four-hour-creation-days interpretation. While a closer examination of early church literature shows that there were, in fact, a wide range of varying interpretations. Although it received little attention in light of such matter the church was facing as attacks on the triune nature of the Godhead and the humanity/deity of Christ.1 But in the early seventeenth century, James Ussher, an Irishman and Archbishop of Armagh, sparked a movement that has been in debate ever since. Believing the days of creation to be literal twenty-four hour periods and working from the recently translated King James Version of the Bible, Ussher used the genealogical accounts within the Old Testament to calculate the beginning of creation at about 4036 B.C. John Lightfoot, building upon his work, concluded that creation took Hugh Ross, Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1994), 16 & 24.
4 place the week of October 18 to 24, 4004 B.C., with Adam created on October 23 at 9:00 A.M. forty-fifth meridian time. As silly as that sounds, since that time, many nonChristians still assume that all Bible-believing Christians adhere to the beginning of creation in 4004 B.C. 2 In the late eighteenth century geologists began to learn that silt and rocks were laid down in succession producing layers. In the beginning of the nineteenth century fossils were being excavated of animals that were no longer in existence.3 The science of geology began to mature in the late nineteenth century and with it, dating systems using radioactivity. Scientist began to conclude that the earth was not just a few thousand years old, but several billion.4 An emotional and fiery debate ensued that continues to this day. For many Christians and non-Christians alike, this seemed like science had proven the Bible to be un-authoritative and errant. But those believing the Bible to be true and the written word of God, sought explanations that could either refute the scientific findings or reconcile them together. The next section will explore some of these theories and views that have been proposed and adopted by Christians as to explanations for the apparent differences between science and theology. The focus of this paper is to explore and explain the various theories and views of the creation-date controversy and to preserve this primary focus, there is little attention given to some underlining assumptions. However, the reader should be made aware of some the assumptions of the writer and this work. The first being, that there is one triune, uncreated God, who created everything out of nothing, including those realities not Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture (Grand Rapids: WM B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954) 174. 3 Ross, Creation and Time, 27-28. 4 Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 171.
5 specifically named in the Genesis creation account. Therefore all creation and realities have a beginning, authored by God. These conclusions are drawn from the Bible, the revealed, authoritative, inerrant Word of God. The Bible is the highest standard of truth and unlike the sciences, remains the same and always unchanging. No theory or explanation derived by human logic, argument, or scientific research is acceptable, unless in full agreement to Scripture. Because both Scripture and creation reveal God and His nature, they will always work to compliment one another. Any inconsistencies are not a result of God’s deception, but a human failure to fully understand the meanings behind both discoveries. As Dr. Hugh Ross states, “No compromise of integrity is require by either side, not by the scientist who trusts in the established facts of nature, nor by the Christian who upholds the inerrancy of God’s written Word.”5 The most important question in regards to the Genesis Creation account is the “who” of creation. Not in who God created, but who was the Creator. However, the purpose and focus of this writing is to explore and explain the “how” and “when” of the origins of all known and unknown creation and realities. Theories of Reconciliation The following list of theories and views are adapted from Bernard Ramm’s, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, coupled with various theologians’ support and thoughts. Religious-Only Theory One approach to the problem of Genesis and geology is to affirm that Scripture states the origin of the universe in religious or theological terms, but that science declares
Ross, Creation and Time, 15.
6 how and when it happened. Adherents to this view believe that science and Scripture cannot be harmonized and the theologian who tries to derive science from Genesis is as much in error as the scientist who sees nothing of God in creation. The creation account of Genesis should only serve to point to a powerful, wise, and good Creator God and that is all.6 The spiritual implications of this theory remain true: the Genesis creation account does point us to a powerful, wise, and good God, and it is important to always remember that Genesis 1 is Creator-centered, not creation-centered. However, by creating such a separation of theology and science as this theory suggests, it is only a matter of time until the theology becomes irrelevant. If we can gain a proper understanding of the world, its origins and workings, without theology, then the Scriptures become useless. This theory aims to solve the discrepancies of science and Scripture, but by its own methods becomes invalid. Flood Theory Many Christians hold to a strict and literal interpretation of Scripture and assuming that all genealogies have been accurately recorded, hold to the view that the earth is still relatively young. One of the most popular ways in which they reconcile the differences between geology and Scripture is to account for the various animal and vegetable life found at different strata of the earth as the results of the Flood of Noah in Genesis 6-8. When God flooded the earth, He sent huge waves at thousands of miles an hour rushing over the surface of the waters. These waves picked up the various forms of life and as the waves lost their velocity they deposited the mud, dirt, animals, plants, and debris as huge strata. The weight and pressure of the waters compressed the mud strata, hardening it to rock. The humans of Noah’s time fled to the tops of mountains to escape
Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 177-178.
7 the rising waters and were picked up last by the waves, hence, only being found in the highest strata of the earth. But as geologists studied the various strata, they concluded that a single catastrophic event over a short period of time, like the Flood, could not account for the variations in the geological strata. One reason, being that the amount of water it would take to carry such large amounts of sediment to form the various layers are beyond our earth’s capacity to sustain. The amounts of physical and chemical conditions under which rocks are formed and the amount of time needed to do so are not accounted for in the flood theory. According to this theory, there are only a few thousand years between the flood and our current place in history. But these few thousand years do not allow enough time for other geological phenomenon that would have taken place between then and now. There needed to be multiple events that were spaced over a greater amount of time.7 However, scientist do generally agree that a great flood, like the Flood of Noah, could account for some of the variations and plant and animal dispersions within the earth’s strata. The popularity of this theory has even benefitted science in many ways, causing geologists to look for and discover instances of rapid burial and opened a new appreciation for the “catastrophic” aspects of geologic history. But the geological evidence suggests that one catastrophic event over a relatively short period of time is just not enough to account for all the variations and divisions within the geological strata.8 In addition to the problems of not allowing enough time or catastrophic events, are the logical problems of the created order in regards to a literal six, successive, twenty-four hour days interpretation that will be dealt with under the next theory. Ibid., 180-185. Davis A. Young, Christianity and the Age of the Earth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), 71-91.
8 Successive Catastrophes Theory This theory is similar to the gap theory, which will be covered in greater detail later, but was built upon and continued from the flood theory. Realizing that one single catastrophe event or flood could hardly account for all the different strata and uniqueness of each one, theologians and scientists like Cuvier and Agassiz began to develop a theory that surrounded multiple catastrophes by either flood or glaciers. These catastrophes would cover only part of the earth in which the plants and animals would be buried under the drifting sands, and once receded, new plants and animals would migrate to the region again. However, this theory required more time than the allotted 6000 or so years, so they began to incorporate gaps of time within the Genesis account and soon this theory moved away from the actual Genesis creation account and more towards creationism.9 In regards to the literal twenty-four hour day interpretation, there appears to be some chronological order fallacies that have been overlooked by many. Twenty-four hour days are an integral part of the created order of our world, but it would be irrational to assume the existence of twenty-four hour days “in the beginning.” The Genesis creation account begins with the creation of light and darkness on the first day, yet the source of light was not created until the fourth day. Evening and morning signified the beginning and ending of each of the days of creation, yet the solar system, whose lights distinguished the day from night, was not created until the fourth day. Plant life was created on the third day, yet its necessary source of chlorophyll in light from the sun was not created until the fourth day.10 For many, these issues of logical order dismiss the Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 188-189. R. Clyde McCone, "Were the Days of Creaiton Twenty-Four Hours Long?," in The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions About Creation and the Flood, ed. Ronald Youngblood, 12-35 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), 21-22.
9 possibility of the creation days being successive twenty-four hour days. Perhaps these days are symbolic or serve another purpose than being days of creation. Local Creation Theory As the flood theory and successive catastrophe theory were losing acceptance, in 1840 John Pye Smith in his book, On the Relation Between the Holy Scriptures and Certain Parts of Geological Science, argued for a local creation in Genesis 1:2, separate from the creation in Genesis 1:1. Smith accepted the interpretation of German scholar Dathe, that read Genesis 1:2 as saying “But afterwards the earth became waste and desolate.”11 He contended that the Jews had no concept of the earth being a sphere or its actual size, so “earth” was referring to the portion the Lord had assigned for the habitation of mankind. Geology gives us the history of the entire planet from its creation, but Genesis 1:2 is speaking more of a remodel in a particular area. This gives geology the time and space it needs and that God’s “remodel” is concerned with plants and animals of today, making Genesis 1:2 a very recent event. This theory was very influential but its success was not long lived.12 While this theory solved the problem between Scripture and science, it robs the Scriptures of any real meaning. The study of the origin of the universe and its history now becomes completely non-Christian and non-theistic. The six days of creation hold no real significance as God’s mighty handiwork, only a small remodeling job and Smith’s interpretation holds no real weight in proper exegesis. Ideal-Time Theory13 Omphalos is the Greek word for navel, which was the title of Philip Henry Gosse’s 1857 publication, Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot. Gosse, a
Italics mine. Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 190-191. 13 Also known as Pro-Chronic Theory.
10 biologist and preacher, faced a dilemma. The scientist part of Gosse was convinced that the evidence supported a date of the earth much older than a few thousand years. The preacher part of Gosse felt constrained to uphold the date he thought his Christian faith required.14 In an attempt to reconcile the two, he argued that all of nature is in a circular process and that creation must commence somewhere in that cycle. Gosse asks, “Did Adam have a navel? Of course he did.” Adam was created at a given point in the cycle of nature and would have appeared as though he had already been in that cycle. Adam’s actual age would be zero, but he would appear, for example, as though he were thirty years of age.15 If God created trees, rather than merely seeds, the trees would have rings and appear as though they had been through the growing process although they had not. Gosse uses the terms pro-chronic and dia-chronic or real-time and ideal-time respectively. At the moment of creation there was pro-chronic or real-time of existence and sense then creation has been in dia-chronic or ideal-time. So according to this theory, the real time of the universe might be 6000 years old, but appear as though it were much older. If creation is an irruption in the natural cycle, then scientists cannot work backwards indefinitely. For Gosse, the evidence of fossils and geologic strata are only a testimony to the perfection of God’s antiquating His universe. Evidence of real time versus ideal time can even be found in the life Jesus. Take, for example, Jesus’ first public miracle: turning water into wine. When he performed this miracle, the wine would appear to have been through the normal process of wine-making: deriving from grapes, being pressed, and then fermented. The host of the wedding tasted the wine, assumed it had been made through the established methods, and thought the
Ross, Creation and Time, 29-30. Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 192-193.
11 wine had been there since the beginning of the wedding, asking why it hadn’t been served first. Jesus created the wine instantaneously but it appeared to have had a traditional, actually non-existent, history.16 The real-age of the wine was zero, but the ideal-time would have appeared to be several months or years. The same logic is applied to the Genesis creation account in regards to the age of the earth. Whitcomb goes as far as to say if this theory, or as he puts it “doctrine,” is not true, there could be no original creation by God at all. No matter what God created it would have to have a non-existent, but apparent age. Therefore, to conclude that the earth is relatively 6000 years old, but perfectly antiquated by God is perfectly within His ability and necessarily within the Genesis creation account.17 While Gosse and his modern day supporters’ logic is hard to argue, there are serious implications if his theory were to be true. First, it sets the stage for a God who deceives for His own enjoyment. There is no biblical or theological necessity for God to create a world that appeared old when it was actually not and certainly speaks of a God who covered every possible detail to ensure the world was fully antiquated. Placing fossils deep beneath the earth’s surface, for humans to one day find, of plants and animals that never existed. It would call for people to begin questioning every one of their perceptions and experiences. Are they real or only God making me think they are real? Secondly, this theory does not reconcile science and Scripture but completely destroys all science. Science is wrong in every conclusion it has come to and cannot be trusted. Serious implications if true, but this theory seems to contradict other revelations within Kurt P. Wise, Faith, Form, and Time What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms About Creation and the Age of the Universe (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 59. 17 John C. Whitcomb, The Early Earth, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986) 40.
12 Scripture of the nature and character of God. Gap Theory18 As geologists continued to gain a better understanding of the earth, many of the early theories were not sufficient. For science and Scripture to work together there needed to be more time for developments and catastrophic events and the traditional view of a young earth didn’t supply it. Thomas Chalmers developed a theory that would give the geologist the time they needed. As John Pye Smith had done, by using Dathe’s interpretation of “was” in Genesis 1:2 as “became,” Chalmers determined that there was a creation (Genesis 1:1), followed by a catastrophe (Genesis 1:2), and then followed by another creation (Genesis 1:3). Supporting Chalmers, G. H. Pember in his 1876 book, Earth’s Earliest Ages, made this theory famous and this writing became one of the core books that shaped modern day Fundamentalism. Then Scofield adopted this thought and interpretation in his Reference Bible, which fueled its popularity. While there are variations of this theory, in general it supports that God created a perfect world as recorded in Genesis 1:1. This world was turned over to Satan and through his fall, the world became corrupt and fallen. It was left in this state for millions or even billions of years, during which the various geological formations were formed. In Genesis 1:2, God destroyed what remained of the desolate earth and somewhere around 4000 B.C. God recreated or recondition it in six literal twenty-four hour days in Genesis 1:3. Pember argues that the Hebrew words tohu and bohu (without form and void) can only refer to something that is ruined from a pervious condition; they express an outpouring of the wrath of God. It is also important to note that Pember admits that the Bible contributes no formal principle for the interpretation of geology and therefore,
Also known as Restitution Theory or Creation-Ruination-Recreation Theory.
13 whatever geologists conclude about the geological record we should accept.19 The problems with this theory are too numerous to list in full detail here, however, some of the prominent ones should be discussed. First, it takes one of the grandest passages of the Bible into one of the most bizarre and incomprehensible. The original creation of the universe is subjected to one verse, the next verse contains billions of years of hidden history, destruction, and evil, and then the next two chapters are devoted to a remodel. Secondly, in order to come to these conclusion, these theologians and religious leaders took passages out of context from Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel and forced them to fit behind the scenes of Genesis 1:2 with no biblical foundation for doing so. The exegetical fallacies alone, as detailed by Ramm, of redefining the meanings of several Hebrew words, are shown to be inappropriate and unwarranted.20 Finally, this theory solves nothing in regards to geology and opens the door for some very dangerous theological implications. Just because someone develops a theory to allow for more time in the age of the earth controversy, does not bring theology and geology together. Following along with Pember’s statement on geology, as so many others have also bought into, allows science to come to any conclusion it may without the slightest influence of Scripture. It may create peace between theologians and scientists, but a Christian worldview that doesn’t allow Scripture to speak into the origin and order of the world, is no Christian worldview at all. Age-Day Theory21 While the gap theory remains today a strong viewpoint, especially among Fundamentals, soon there arose problems with this thought. The gap theory provided
Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 195-201. Ibid., 202-203. 21 Also known as Divine-Day Theory or Concordism Theory.
14 geologists with the time they needed, but soon there was need to explain the sequence of the geological formations. The explanation and argument supported by such men as Hugh Miller, James Dana, and J. W. Dawson, was that the days of Genesis were not literal twenty-four hour days, but geological time periods. It’s called age-day theory or geologic-day theory because it considers the days of Genesis as being periods of time; it’s called Divine-day theory after Augustine, a 4th and 5th century philosopher and theologian, who said they were God-divided days, not sun-divided days. Much of the argument for and against this theory surrounds the Hebrew word yom translated day. Some scholars refer to the use of yom as evidence for the original intended meaning to be that of a twenty-four hour period. However, proponents of this theory believe it to be a metaphorical meaning, citing other passages in which the same word, yom, is used differently. In just the first two chapter of Genesis alone the word is used to mean: daylight (1:4); a day marked out by an evening and a morning (1:4); daylight in contrast to night (1:14); a twenty-four hour day (1:14); and to the entire period of creation (2:4).22 Elsewhere in Scripture it is used to mean: a process of time (Gen 4:3); wheat harvest time (Gen 30:14); a long season (Josh 24:7); a future era (Isaiah 4:2); summer + winter (Zech 14:8).23 However, as Fretheim points out, that it is not the singular form of yom that they are referring to, which is used over 2200 times in the Old Testament always to mean a twenty-four hour day. It is the plural forms and those that are a part of an adverbial construction, as in Genesis 2:4, that can carry a greater meaning. It is only the singular form of yom that is used for the six days of creation.24 Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 211-213. Ross, Creation and Time, 46. 24 Terence E. Fretheim, "Were the Days of Creation Twenty-four Hours Long?," in The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions About Creation and the Flood, 12-35 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), 17.
15 Bradley and Olsen observe that the use of yom in Genesis 1 cannot be adequately compared to its other uses. There is no other place in the Old Testament where the intent is to describe multiple and/or sequential, indefinite periods of time. In fact, they claim it creates more problems than solves to interpret this word to mean twenty-four hour days. The sixth day of creation alone involves: the major types of land animals created, Adam created, the garden planted and made to grow, Adam being placed in the garden, Adam naming the animals and the feeling lonely, Adam being put to sleep and Eve being created, and finally the initial meeting at which Adam exclaims, “now at length.” A twenty-four hour understanding of the sixth day, in their opinion, doesn’t allow for enough time for all the events that took place.25 Another point of argument for and against this theory is the expression “evening and morning.” Those believing yom to be metaphorical, must also conclude this phrase is metaphorical. They do not mean that there is a million years of light followed by a million years of darkness, but rather this expression is meaning a period of creation and a period of rest. Ross indicates that literally translated “evening and morning” mean, ending of the day and beginning of the day respectively, regardless of how “day” is being used. So the use of this phrase in no way changes the intended meaning of yom.26 Others have argued that Exodus 20:11, requiring six days of work and then one day of rest for God’s people, is indicative of the same amount of time used to create all things. Because the Israelites were to work for six days and then rest, God must have worked on the same timetable. However, God also required a Sabbath rest for agricultural land, that was to Walter L. Bradley and Roger Olsen, "The Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science," in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, ed. Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus, 285-234 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 300. 26 Ross, Creation and Time, 46.
16 last a full year. The Sabbath law was meant to shadow the process of God’s work, not repeat it.27 Pictorial-Day Theory28 With the pictorial-day theory or perhaps better stated, the pictorial-revelatory theory, the focus turns not on the “how” or “when” of creation, but to the “who” of creation. The creation account found in Genesis is meant to evoke worship to the allpowerful, all-knowing, all-loving, all-good Creator. Rather than viewing the Genesis creation as being performed in six literal days or age-days, it was revealed in six pictorial-revelatory days. Genesis is not speaking scientifically or exclusively and is not necessarily in chronological order but more so topically and logically ordered.29 Creation happened in Genesis 1:1-2, but it was revealed by God in six, most likely twenty-four hour, days. McCone summarizes this position well in his statement regarding the issue on the length of time associated with days, “Since by divine revelation we are taken to the beginning and the Creator, we are then taken forward from God’s perspective in eternity, not backward in time from human perspective. The days of Genesis 1, by the most literal reading, are days of creation and not days of time.”30 Habel notes in his Literary Criticism of the Old Testament, that the creation account in Genesis 1 are structured in a way that expresses order and planning and that each day of creation is paralleled in the same stylistic way.31 Perhaps suggesting that the creation account was intended more to teach about the Creator than the exact processes in which He created. The problem with Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 214-218. Also known as Moderate Concordism Theory. 29 Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, 218-222. 30 McCone, The Genesis Debate, 20. 31 Norman Habel, Literary Criticism of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 19.
17 this theory specifically relates to the fourth commandment: God enjoining rest on the seventh day because he rested on the seventh day seems to presuppose some sort of chronological sequence.32 Conclusion In the beginning God created. This much all evangelical theologians, pastors, Christian scientists, and followers of Christ can agree on. We have a clearly defined statement in Scripture that no amount of exegetical juggling or theorizing can change; there is an all-powerful, uncreated, infinitely wise God who created everything out of nothing. But when it comes to how God created, when He created it, and how long it took Him to create, we can only but guess now and live with the reassurance that one day He will reveal it to us; probably not during our time on earth, but when we see Him face to face in our heavenly home. It would be wise to remember God’s words to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know” (Job 38:4 NASB). Job did not, nor do we know. But it is important for all Christians to diligently study the Scriptures and develop a framework for which they base their doctrines. Based on the information we have available and our best abilities to understand that information, we must put together our best interpretation of the Genesis creation account, acknowledging that there will always remain unanswered questions regardless of which theory we hold to. While the Religious-Only Theory does good to remind us that the focus of the Genesis creation account should be the Creator, not the creation, the whole counsel of Scripture indicates that the Word of God has value, meaning, and Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 408.
18 implication for every arena of human life and knowledge. The Flood Theory, while still very popular in modern Christian circles, does not adequately provide answers or reconciliation between science and Scripture. Scripture should always take precedence over any human logic or knowledge, however, other areas of science (i.e. medicine, biology, etc.) have proven that God not only created the world with order, but gives humans knowledge about that order and He works through that knowledge to carry out His will in this world. If God would use and work through human knowledge in the areas of medicine, it seems illogical that He would use deception and trickery in the area of geology. Which brings us to Ideal-Time Theory. It would seem necessary that at the moment of creation, there would be an ideal-time different than that of the real time. But as history progressed, the world enters into real-time in which we all currently live. It seems against the nature of God to make the world appear different than it actually is for no reason than to deceive. Of course, all things are possible through God and if He wanted to He could perfectly antiquate this world. It is not a question of if, but why, and other parts of Scripture seem to refute this option based on God’s character. The LocalCreation Theory and the Successive Catastrophe theory, while intriguing, only seem to be attempts at cultivating a human logic theory, more than relying on Scripture and supplementing that with Science. They hold no real weight in history, biblical scholarship, or science. The Gap Theory continues to hold prominence among many Christians, especially Fundamentals, but there are so many exegetical fallacies to take it serious anymore. An ingenious way of giving scientist the time they were looking for, but creates more
19 problems than it solves and only encourages others to take Scripture out of context and use it for their own desires and preferences. It is a dangerous game to play with God’s Word and proves itself unworthy of support. The two theories that remain, both of which seem to be relatively viable options are the Age-Day Theory and the Pictorial-Day Theory. As noted earlier, both have strong points and weaknesses. There is some debate as to the freedom that can be placed on the meaning for the Hebrew word yom or “day,” but it doesn’t seems inappropriate to attach time period to the word as opposed to limiting it to twenty-four hours. However, if these are time-periods, there still remains the issue of chronological progression discussed under the Successive Catastrophe Theory. So if one holds to the idea of time-periods or epochs of time, the creation days must be ordered topically and not actually chronologically. The Pictorial-Day Theory holds a problem with God’s fourth commandment for Sabbath rest. Unless, his revelation where in six twenty-four hour days, although the actual creation had occurred previously. This would allow for direct and literal interpretation for yom. Both of these theories seem possible and are supported by many modern-day, conservative theologians and scientists. The Pictorial-Day Theory is preferred by this author and seems to fit all aspects of exegesis, biblical scholarship, history, and science most consistently and with integrity to the Word of God. It has already been said here and deserves to be said again, the Genesis creation account is Creator-centered, not creation-centered. What matters most is that God created everything out of nothing and in His infinite wisdom, knowledge, love, and grace He created when and how He willed. Because He created, He created with a plan and purpose and the study of the origin of creation should point us to and continually remind
20 us of God’s purpose for humanity. Namely, to glorify Him with our lives by responding to and being transformed by the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is an endeavor that is worthy of our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.
Bibliography Bradley, Walter L., and Roger Olsen. "The Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science." In Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, edited by Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus, 285-234. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984. Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. Second Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998. Fretheim, Terence E. "Were the Days of Creation Twenty-Four Hours Long?" In The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions About Creation and the Flood, edited by Ronald Youngblood, 12-35. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986. Habel, Norman. Literary Criticism of the Old Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971. McCone, R. Clyde. "Were the Days of Creation Twenty-Four Hours Long?" In The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions About Creation and the Flood, edited by Ronald Youngblook, 12-35. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986. Ramm, Bernard. The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1954. Ross, Hugh. Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the CreationDate Controversy. Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group, 1994. Whitcomb, John C. The Early Earth. Revised Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986. Wise, Kurt P. Faith, Form, and Time What the Bible Teaches and Science Confirms About Creation and the Age of the Universe. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002. Young, Davis A. Christianity & the Age of the Earth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982.
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