The Genesis Day

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. Administrator2

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    [Administrator: this thread is limited, upon request, to Bible believing Christians]

    DEACON

    One of the key areas of contention in the creation debate concerns the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis one.

    The Hebrew word “day” is used in much same way as it is in English so like in English, the word "day" has a broad range of meanings. In the first two chapters of Genesis the word “day” (“yom”) is used in three distinctly different ways.
    In this verse the word ‘day’ means; (1) the time that it is light, and (2), one diurnal day, (possibly interpreted here as approx. 24 hours).

    The third meaning of the word “day” occurs in Genesis 2:4.
    Here the word “day” means a longer period of time, in this case it covers the whole creation period.

    YOM can also mean an indefinite period of time. This is the meaning in Genesis 35:3 "in the day of my distress" and in Proverbs 31:25; “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (ESV)


    So the question is: Which of these allowable meanings for the word ‘day’ is most consistent with its use in Genesis one?


    A good number of biblical scholars and commentators have concluded that the Genesis creation "days" must be 24-hour days.

    Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.’s article, “In the Space of Six Days” is a balanced and responsive presentation of the arguments for a 24-hour day. http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V9/1d.html Here is a synopsis of his most persuasive points.

    1. Argument from Primary Meaning. The preponderant usage of the word "day" (Heb. yom) in the OT is of a normal diurnal period.

    2. Argument from Explicit Qualification. Moses qualifies each of the six creation days by "evening and morning."

    3. Argument from Numerical Prefix. Genesis 1 attaches a numeral to each of the creation days: first, second, third, etc. These always signify literal days.

    4. Argument from Numbered Series. When yom appears in numbered series it always specifies natural days.

    5. Argument from Coherent Usage. The word yom in Genesis 1 defines Days 4-6—after God creates the sun—expressly for marking off days.

    6. Argument from Divine Exemplar. The Scripture specifically patterns man's work week after God's own original creation week (Ex 20:9-11; 31:17).

    THE "DAYS" OF CREATION IN GENESIS 1: LITERAL "DAYS" OR FIGURATIVE "PERIODS / EPOCHS" OF TIME? by the late Gerhard F. Hasel offers a similarly credible argument regarding the interpretation of the Genesis days. http://www.ldolphin.org/haseldays.html

    These men have examined the context of the whole Bible to determine the possible meaning of a single word (comparing Scripture with Scripture). But when we are examining one word, that word also needs to be examined closely within its immediate context for clues that might help us determine if the word is used in this standard sense.

    Just a little history: Darwin’s revolutionary theory of ‘the origin of the species’ didn’t initiate the questioning of the ‘Genesis day’. There are enough difficulties within the text itself to do this. Some of the early church fathers interpreted the creation days of the first chapter of Genesis as long periods of time. It was not uncommon for early commentators to interpret the days of Genesis as one thousand years each. Irenaeus, (ca. A.D. 130-200); Origen, (ca. A.D.185-254); Basil (ca. A.D.329-379); Augustine (ca. A.D.354-430); and, later, Aquinas (ca. A.D.1225-1274) chose to interpret the Genesis days to mean something other than 24-hours. In Augustine’s book, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” he writes “…But at least we know the Genesis creation day is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar.” ….And so from the earliest commentaries we can ‘at least’ appreciate that the word has been an enigma.


    What are some of the clues that the word ‘day’ may not be used in its common sense?


    1). You must explain the day-night cycle without a sun for the first 3 days (questioned by Philo as early as the first century).


    2). Re: The creation of vegetation, Day 3: Genesis 2:5-9

    Just a question, If the Genesis days were 24-hours in length, why would it matter if it hadn’t rained, the day before all land was under water (day 2). Certainly since the vegetation prospered without the sun (day 4) it could have survived a few days without rain. Additionally the sequencing of the appearance of vegetation appears to be different between chapters one and two of Genesis.


    3). It is also of great interest that the word ‘generations’, (toledah), is used in Genesis 2:4.
    “Toledah” always refers to long periods of time, never to times as short as a week (this argument sort throws the scholars arguments regarding the word ‘day’ back at them). Also note that its use is plural; ‘generations’ have passed in the forming of the earth and the heavens.


    4). The events of the sixth day. On ‘day six’ did God not only had to create animals and man, but also during this period Adam had to sense his loneliness, name all the animals, sleep, and only then did God create Eve.

    5). There is Adam's statement found in Genesis 2:23
    Adam’s expression “at last” (zo’t happa‘am) implies a rather longer sense of time than a few hours.

    6). Concerning the seventh day rest mentioned in Hebrews 3:7-4:13
    If the seventh day can be said to be longer than 24-hours by the author of Hebrews, can’t we imply that the other six days can also be interpreted that way?

    Do not fall into the trap of thinking the age of the earth is just a matter of "trusting God's Word" versus "trusting science." Although young-earth views are certainly consistent with the Bible, this is only one of many plausible interpretations of Genesis 1-11. After careful studies of language and literary styles by thousands of scholars over thousands of years, there is still no consensus regarding the meaning of the word ‘day’ in Genesis.
     
  2. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    Hi Deacon,

    Thank you for opening this subject again. I think you will find a lot of it has been discussed already, here:
    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=000043 and here:
    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=000033

    However I will do my best to respond to some of what you have mentioned below.
    In this verse the word ‘day’ means; (1) the time that it is light, and (2), one diurnal day, (possibly interpreted here as approx. 24 hours). </font>[/QUOTE]Please note that the two are considered synonymous biblically. Therefore this is not two different definitions, but the first definition defining the use of the term in this chapter.

    Here the word “day” means a longer period of time, in this case it covers the whole creation period. </font>[/QUOTE]The usage also distinctly identifies ‘yom’ as NOT being a 24 hour day here.

    Here, again, is a distinct meaning in the context apart from a 24 hour period. The context here is defining the meaning, the same way it does in English.

    The one which Genesis 1 itself defines – a period of light, which God called ‘yom’, or ‘day.’
    For historical reference, I again refer the reader to an excellent study done by Bradshaw, here:
    http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Contents.htm

    As we look out into space, we are looking back into time, no matter if you are dealing with YEC or old ages, creation or evolution. In ALL of the far galaxies, we see a quasar at their center. Quasars are brighter than whole galaxies, and they appear to be caused by the accretion of matter into black holes. As we get closer to earth, and thus more recent in time, we see black holes at the center of galaxies, including ours, the Milky Way. At the beginning there was a quasar at the center of our galaxy, just like all the others. This gives directional light. A turning earth is all that is needed then for a standard day and night.
    For a more detailed explanation of astronomical events, please see
    http://www.setterfield.org/stellarhist.html

    The sun was lit, if not actually formed, on day four. That was the time the quasar was collapsing into the black hole and the light on earth was replaced by the sun’s light, which was in the same area of the sky then, as the disappearing quasar. It is also at THIS point in time that God tells us the sun, moon and stars are to be our time-keepers. Before that things were not settled enough to have this gravitational, or orbital, clock established. This does NOT mean, however, that the earth’s period of rotation on its axis was any different before the lighting of the sun than after it.

    Regarding question 2, two points need to be made:
    1. Genesis 2:5-6 are a recognized parenthetic and a point of actual scientific information which is valuable to us. Please see:
    http://www.baptistboard.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=43;t=000003

    2. There is no difference between chapters 1 and 2 regarding the appearance of vegetation. Understanding verses 5 and 6 as parenthetic, we then have the original sentence as “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” This is the direct tie-in to the events of Genesis 1, since the author is now Adam. The parenthetic places it more directly in time and situation. The fact that streams or mists were rising up from the surface of the ground is a clear indication of water under pressure below the surface. If you reference Genesis 7:11, you will see that in the Flood of Noah, these sub-crustal waters were what burst forth FIRST, in the flood sequence.


    “Toledah” always refers to long periods of time, never to times as short as a week (this argument sort throws the scholars arguments regarding the word ‘day’ back at them). Also note that its use is plural; ‘generations’ have passed in the forming of the earth and the heavens.</font>[/QUOTE]Exactly. The usage here shows how it is being meant. It is also in the plural. The days of Genesis 1 aren’t.



    Adam’s expression “at last” (zo’t happa‘am) implies a rather longer sense of time than a few hours.</font>[/QUOTE]Or the end of a long list, which is exactly what he had gone through in being presented with the land animals!

    Regarding entering God’s rest – using that as an argument regarding the seventh day of creation week is not a good one. Christ clearly tells us He WILL give us rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), and this rest is not to be confused with the picture of rest given via the seventh day any more than the earthly Tabernacle is to be confused with the heavenly reality, also mentioned in Hebrews. All the earthly pictures, including the seventh day, have time limitations. The seventh day is exactly what it is said to be, the period of light following the sixth day. That’s it. No more, no less. Day is defined as a period of light in Genesis 1, and the Genesis 1 narration does not end until Genesis 2:4a.
     
  3. Administrator2

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    DEACON

    Helen, you wrote:
    I didn’t mean to start the thread as a shotgun post, needing a response to each point. Certainly with only a little research anyone can see each of these points are argued from various points of view to infinity and beyond... (Oops, my Buzz Lightyear alter-ego escaped).

    I don’t want to win the “word war” about the meaning of the word “day” and loose the connection with reality. If God chose to use “day” to mean a long period of time, in defiance of conventional uses, who are we to complain? True: we should be good stewards of God’s Word, correctly dividing the Word of truth and I understand that there was only one way God could have created things… so only one theory will eventually be correct but I’m not sure we have found that model yet. In an internet web commentary by Doy Moyer, he comments:
    In a church body it is proper to instruct the flock using a single paradigm to promote unity and not to cause contention (We can see fellow Baptists who separate regarding their conflicting beliefs regarding Covenant and dispensational theology). In that case many key doctrines are effected (particularly regarding the role of believers in society and future events) so unity would be difficult. In the origins debates though my feeling is that as long as the gospel is kept pure I don’t feel that a separation is necessary. Believers of different perspectives can worship the same Creator together without stumbling around with doctrinal differences. I’m disturbed when people express the notion that if you don’t believe the way they do about creation then you are wrong (of course they also usually describe their way as the true biblical way of thinking).

    All of the various origin theories seek to answer questions that form the primary foundations of a worldview (naturalistic Evolutionism included). Bible based origin theories moreover attempt to resolve internal textual problems found within Scripture and modern scientific discoveries. We shouldn’t equate an origin theory with known biblical doctrinal truth; origin theories are hypothesis. Theorists set up their hypothesis and build a theological framework that fits their theory. Modern Y.E. Creationism is an origin theory based upon various biblical evidences and an evolving alternative science. It’s a work in progress: it’s a lot of guess work. Helen, some of your answers to the textual difficulties I listed in the first post are based upon a YE worldview.
    Your comment introducing quasars into the creation story is clearly not a biblical insight, it uses Scriptural “clues” to make an assumption that is based upon a young earth paradigm. These ‘guesses’ (hypothesis’) are made to account for the recognized difficulties encountered in the biblical text which the young-earth paradigm seeks to address. Scholars like you and your husband perform research to support a particular paradigm and may someday be able to unify the theories, the text and the doctrines into a cohesive unit. Others like Hugh Ross, (Progressive Creationism), Van Till (Theistic Creationism) and scores of others, work through some other paradigms that may (or may not) prove fruitful someday. Until then we must say that every current origin theory has problems in one area or another.

    The difficulties encountered in identifying the meaning of the word “day” were not identified by recent old earth creationists, but by many earlier commentators of these texts who didn’t have to deal with the onslaught of scientific discovery in the modern world and so had no need to completely develop an origin theory. Like I said in the initial post, “…young-earth views are certainly consistent with the Bible, [but] this is only one of many plausible interpretations of Genesis 1-11.” There are many others.
     
  4. Administrator2

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    HELEN

    Deacon, I agree with your Moyer quote that we should not overstep the bounds of what the Bible is actually saying. This is done by so many folks that I sometimes wonder if anyone reads what the Bible is actually saying at all! Granted, that is an exaggeration, but I think you know what I mean…

    On the other hand, we should be just as careful to accept what God says there as the truth. This is the problem with the Genesis account. It gets twisted, distorted, and even shattered so as to fit in with modern science’s most recent theories. After so long in science, I have learned (the hard way, really, which is embarrassing before God) that the Bible really can be trusted when it gives us ‘science facts.’ When God says to Job “Where were you when I….”, we must take that to heart for ourselves as well. We either trust what God has told us or we dispute Him and distort His Word. He was there, after all, and we weren’t.

    You said that in a church body it is proper to instruct using a single paradigm. I disagree. That is propaganda. That is not instruction. The best thing we can do for any of our brothers and sisters in Christ is to tell them the different ideas that try to ‘explain’ Genesis and then go through them one by one for strengths, weaknesses, and adherence to the rest of the Word. Giving people a reason for their faith, and especially in the face of opposition, is not only valuable, but badly needed. The problem is that most of our pastors today don’t have the foggiest about actual scientific facts, and the truth is, they support Bible. We need to learn to trust God’s Word – and one of the most effective ways to encourage people in this area is to show where creation also testifies to the accuracy of what God has told us.

    You want the Gospel kept pure. So do I. Part of the Gospel is that Jesus is Creator. He referred to literal events in Genesis repeatedly. Did He know what He was talking about?

    You mentioned ‘internal textual problems’ found within Scripture regarding origins. Would you please point them out to me? I have never found any. God is rather clear and distinct regarding creation. After all, if you are going to fight that on the grounds of current scientific ‘understanding’, you might as well fight all the miracles, for all of them run counter to that understanding, including the virgin birth and the resurrection!

    You then disputed the presence of a quasar in our original Milky Way. I’m sorry, but that is a fact. They appear in the center of every galaxy when we look back in time. They are the result of massive accretion of a black hole, among other things. These ‘black holes’ are the result of God stretching out the universe so rapidly during the first days of creation. He states 12 times in the Bible that He stretched out the heavens. It is past completed tense in the Hebrew. The universe is not still expanding. If you want to see a very small approximation of what happened to the original matter when that stretching took place, get yourself a fairly large bin of water, or fill up your sink. Then put your hands, palms together and fingertips down, in that water. Now pull them apart very fast. You will see whirlpools form. That is exactly what happened to our cosmos when God stretched it out. This invested what is called the ‘fabric of space’ with enormous energy, some of which was formed as light on the first day. This whirlpool effect and the associated light and matter resulted in what we know of as our stars and galaxies today. And every galaxy was centered around one of these black holes, and the black holes in the center of every one of the galaxies produced an original quasar. This we can see. This is data.

    So when God not only talks to Job about the ‘morning’ or beginning stars (known as population 2 stars to astronomers today), but refers to the light formed on the first day, it takes very little physics to see what happened! We take the words in the Bible as guidelines and then work within those guidelines when doing science. This is the only way I know of to find the truth. The stars like our sun, which are population 1 stars, were lit, or formed and lit, on day 4. When we put together the material in the Bible and study creation from THAT perspective we are a whole lot safer than trying to study the universe, form some opinions, and then try to twist Bible into our own opinions. That is the reverse of the way good science works, regardless of the opinions of evolutionists. God was there, and He literally shouts, through all creation,

    Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    Who marked off its dimensions?
    Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    On what were its footings set,
    Or who laid its cornerstone –
    When the morning stars sang together
    And all the angels shouted for joy?


    As the Lord said to Job,
    Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

    Job’s answer was, by the way, much wiser than the vast majority of scientists’ answers today.

    There are no other “plausible interpretations” of Genesis 1-11. It either means what it says or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, why trust the rest of the Bible, since the entire foundation of every major biblical doctrine is found in these first chapters? You can trust man’s ‘wisdom’ or God’s Word. Regardless of how much scientific knowledge one has, it will always come down to that.
     
  5. Johnv

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    Since I don't believe the six day creation story was meant to be a literal account, I believe each day in Genesis to represent a phase in which God created.

    I eat three meals per day, but each meal consists of a different quantity of food, and each meal takes a different amount of time to prepare and comsume. They are three full meals nonetheless.
     
  6. Helen

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    OK, John, then please explain to me how long the era was between the vegetation (day 3) and the establishment of the sun (day 4), or between the fruit trees (day 3) and the denizens of the air which fertilize them (day 5)? Did the birds (day 5) come before any land animals (day 6)? Or do you believe God also got the order of events wrong?
     
  7. Johnv

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    That makes a greater case in favor of evolution than against. Otherwise, we'd have to examine the differences between the creation stories of Gen1 and Gen2. Since I don't believe they're literal, I see no reason to do that.
     
  8. Helen

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    You didn't answer my questions.
     
  9. Timmy

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    What?!?!?! What do you mean periods? You mean the plants are supposed to wait, like what,1 million years before the sun comes up??? And we're supposed to work 6 million years before we finally take a break. It doesn't make sense! [​IMG]
     
  10. GuOeR84

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    Well, I believe that the Bible is the true, infallible, inspired and inerrent word of God, and I also believe the one that reads "KJV" on my bible.

    Well, it's the gap-theory(day-age theory) being discussed here again, another evolutional theory that has been mixed into your science textbooks, and now making it's way into the bible, that this earth is billions of years old, and not around 6000 years ...

    The creation account is important, and if you doubt the first book of the bible, you will soon doubt the world of God, and soon, lose your faith.
    Well, the bible teaches a plain 6 day creation, while man believes that it's not.

    So, of which do you believe in then ? Theory of God, or man ? The credibility of Genesis is at stake here ... and mixing Man's finite knowledge to God's work is absolutely fatal.

    "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5"

    "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. - 1 Cor 1:1"

    In Genesis, what's being used is "the first day", "the second day", etc ... literally meaning, "Day 1", "Day 2", etc ...

    Was the book of Genesis in error or lying then ?

    "IN hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began - Titus 1:2"

    Well, all I have to say is that we ought to study the word of God, and becareful not to read it out of context. And believe ONLY on the word of god, for the bible has already warned us ...

    "Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn away from the truth - Titus 1:14"

    I personally recommend a good site for Evolutions vs Creation, and it's Creation Science Ministry. And for answers to creation, evolutoin, gap-theory can be found here ... do check it out ! ;)

    To the work, for the Lord is coming soon !
     
  11. Helen

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    While I appreciate the enthusiasm of the Hovind supporters, I have to strongly recommend against using him as a credible creation resource. He is a popularizer and a charismatic speaker, but he does not keep up with science at all, uses arguments and 'evidences' we know are suspect, to say the least, and mixes fact and opinion without informing his audience of the line separating the two.

    Instead, to see what some of the actual scientists are saying, I highly recommend Tim Wallace's site: www.trueorigin.org

    It is not only in response to the talkorigin site, but contains some excellent work by a number of highly qualified scientists. There is also my husband, Barry Setterfield's, work, which may be found on his website here:
    www.setterfield.org

    I think you will see a difference between the actual science and the popularization involved in presenting creation.

    In Christ,
    Helen Setterfield
     
  12. BobRyan

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    Genesis is literal and the day is literally the day as we know it today according to the Bible.

    #1. We do not "naturally see living planets created" so attempting to rework the Genesis text into what you see happening in the sky does not fit "In the beginning God" or "And God said let there be...". Frogs that you see today don't appear in that fashion and neither do planets.

    #2. The Genesis 2 text "says" it is the "Account" of the creation of this earth and possibly this solar system.

    #3. Exodus 20:8-11 shows emphatic equivalence between the normal week day and Creation week DAY "Yom" -- "Six Days shall YOU labor and do all your work..." "FOR in Six Days the LORD MADE..."

    #4. The explicit reference to water that was on the earth - indicates - warmth. The "evening morning" explicit reference to a stationary light source on one side - a rotating planet and a possible hint as to an external energy source for warmth.

    #5. The plants created a day before the Sun - shows again - endless ages of time can not be injected into this "account".

    IN christ,

    Bob
     
  13. christfollower55

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    Genesis 1:1 KJV "In the beginning "GOD" created the heavens and the earth."

    "GOD" spoke this world into existance in 6 days, on the 7th day "GOD" rested.

    GOD BLESS AMERICA
     
  14. Helen

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    As a further note here, for those who can use the information, if Genesis 1 had meant 'undetermined' amounts of time instead of literal days, there were several Hebrew words which could have been used: tkufah, onah, or moad.

    Instead 'yom' was used.

    The clear, uninterpreted meaning of Genesis 1 is six 24-hour days and an earth rotating on its axis. It takes an interpretation away from this straightforward intended meaning to get anything else.
     
  15. BobRyan

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    "evening and morning were the first day" - hard to miss.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     

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