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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Werner Gitt on Days of creation

YOM!''

In Six Days

Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation

Edited by Dr John Ashton

Werner Gitt, information science

Dr Gitt is director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, Germany. He is the head of the Department of Information Technology. He holds a diploma in engineering from the Technical University of Hanover and a doctorate in engineering summa cum laude together with Borchers Medal from the Technical University of Aachen. Dr Gitt has published numerous research papers covering the fields of information science, numerical mathematics, and control engineering. He is the author of the recent creation book In the Beginning Was Information.1


A while back, there was a panel discussion in Bremen, Germany, on creation/evolution. The invited participants were a geologist, a palaeontologist, a Catholic priest, a protestant minister, and myself as an information scientist. Before long, the moderator asked, “How long did creation take?” The palaeontologist and the geologist were quickly unanimous—millions of years. When the clergy were asked, both were very definite that, nowadays, theology had no problem with millions of years. Even billions of years could be effortlessly interpreted into the creation days. Finally the moderator asked me for my opinion. I answered as follows:

For me, as an information scientist, the key question is the source of information. Regarding the length of the creation days, there is only one information source, and that is the Bible. In the Bible, God tells us that He created everything in six days.

Since no one else could nominate a source for their opinion, this part of the discussion stopped dead in its tracks.

The question of the length of the creation days has aroused much passion. Adherents to theistic evolution try to interpret the creation account to allow for long timespans. There have been many attempts to arrive at “long creation days.” Here are four examples.

  1. The “day-age” theory: The expression “day” is interpreted as actually meaning a long period of time. “Ages,” “periods,” or “epochs” of time are referred to. Psalm 90:4 is frequently used for justification: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday [i.e., one day] when it is past.

  2. The “days-of-revelation” theory: The days of Genesis are not viewed as days of creation, but as days of revelation. This assumes that the various statements in this account were progressively revealed to the writer in six consecutive days. The motive is clearly to avoid the idea that creation actually took place within these 24-hour periods.

  3. The “movie” theory: Originating with Hans Rohrbach, this concept tries to explain the creation account as if it were time-lapse cinematography of a process which “in reality” took a long period of time. He writes that “It is as if the prophet is seeing a film, in which the mighty process of creation, compressed using time-lapse photography, is screened in front of him. He sees movement, a happening and becoming, hears God speaking; he observes the earth becoming clothed in the green of plant life, and sees everything graphically, like a modern 3-D widescreen film in sound and color.”2

  4. The “literary-days” theory: This maintains that the creation days are merely a literary device, in order to establish a thematic structure. According to this concept, the individual “creation days” are to be regarded like the chapters of a book.

The length of the days of creation

There is a widespread opinion that the creation account is only concerned with communicating “the fact that God actually created.” However, this it totally implausible in light of the numerous precise statements contained in Genesis. If God had only wanted to tell us that He was behind everything, then the first verse of Genesis would be enough. However, the many particulars in the account make it quite clear that God wants to give us much more information than that. In the account of creation we have not only conveyed to us matters relevant to faith and belief, but also a range of facts which have scientific significance. These facts are so foundational to a true understanding of this world that they immediately distinguish themselves from all other beliefs, from the cosmologies of ancient people and from the imaginings of today’s natural philosophy.

The creation account of the Bible stands alone in its declarations. Here we find none of the ancient mythical imaginings of the world and its origin, but here rather we find the living God communicating reality, the truth about origins. The course of correct or false biblical exposition is firmly set, according to the expositor’s convictions, on the first page of the Bible. Separating “faith” from “science” (widely practiced in the Western world), has frequently driven Christians into the ghetto of a contemplative inner piety, which fails to achieve any penetrating effect upon their surroundings, while science is driven into the wasteland of godless ideologies and philosophical systems.

As a result, it has been widely presupposed that biblical statements about the origin of the universe, life, and in particular mankind (as well as nations and languages) are not scientifically trustworthy. This has had grave consequences. Alexander Evertz bemoaned the rampant worldwide spiritual decline as follows:

Belief in the Creator is now largely only a display piece in the glass case of dogmatics. It resembles the stuffed birds one sees perching on rods in a museum.3

We should be thankful for the details God has seen fit to reveal to us in Genesis, this brief glimpse at the origin of this world and life. Thus, we note that God created everything in six days. That they were really 24-hour days, that is solar days or calendar days, should be settled by way of several arguments.

The day as a unit of time

In order to describe physical processes quantitatively, one needs a method of measuring and a corresponding unit. The Bible repeatedly uses technical parameters of measurement in describing the length, area, or volume of something. The units are generally taken from nature or daily life, e.g., the cubit represents the distance from elbow to fingertips. The span is the spread of the fingers of one hand. An acre is that area able to be plowed with a yoke of oxen in one day. One of the most important units is that of time. It is the first unit defined in the Bible. In Genesis 1:14 this takes place at the same time as the other purposes of the heavenly bodies are stated. Their function is as light bearers and to divide day from night. Also, to define the time-units “day,” “year,” and “seasons” and as signs pointing to particular happenings (e.g., Matt. 24:29 regarding the end times).

With the definition of day and year, mankind is given reproducible units. These enable us to quantify statements about the age of something, the distance by which two occurrences are separated in time, or the duration of a process. Thus the unit “day” is utilized to inform us of the duration of the work of creation: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is” (Exod. 20:11).

So we should trust God’s Word, because “God is not a man, that he should lie” (Num. 23:19). If God really took billions of years in order to create everything, why does He then tell us it was only a matter of days?

The meaning of the word “day” in the Bible

The word “day” occurs in the Bible 2,182 times4 and is used overwhelmingly in the literal sense. Just as in English, German, and many other languages, the word “day” (Hebrew yom) can have two meanings. The first is a time period of (roughly) 24 hours, which also includes the night. This is how calendar days are measured. The second meaning would be the daylight portion of a calendar day (e.g., Gen. 1:5, 8:22; Josh. 1:8). In the creation account, the words “day and night” (Gen. 1:5, 14–18) occur nine times in the sense of referring only to the light or dark portion of a normal 24-hour day.

In exceptional cases, which are always clearly identifiable by the context, “day” means not a physically or astronomically definable span of time, but specially designated occurrences such as “the day of the Lord,” “the day of Judgment,” and “the day of Salvation.” In John 9:4, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work,” the word “day” is immediately recognizable from the context as referring to a nonphysical timespan in which it is possible to work. In over 95 percent of cases, the word for day indicates 24 hours.

“Day” with a numeral

The word “day,” associated with a numeral, occurs in the Old Testament over 200 times. In all of these cases, a 24-hour day is indicated. At the end of the account concerning each of the six creation days, we read (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), “And there was evening, and there was morning the first [to sixth] day.” So here we always have the grammatical construction “numeral in connection with day.”

“Evening and Morning”

The fact that each of the intervals of creation is bounded by “evening and morning” is a further indication that the creation days were ordinary 24-hour days. The word “evening” occurs 49 times and the word “morning” 187 times, always in the literal sense. If “day” were supposed to mean a long epoch of time, it would not be bounded by such precisely-named descriptions of times of day. The Old Testament consistently observes the same sequence of these times of day, i.e., evening followed by morning (e.g., Ps. 55:17; Dan. 8:14, 8:26). A new day starts with evening (sundown) and ends with the beginning of the evening on the following day. With this definition of a day, the sequential flow of these times of day is “evening-morning.” Thus, we read literally (Elberf. translation): “And it became evening, and it became morning: first day.”

Creation days and God’s omnipotence

The works of creation demonstrate the omnipotence of God and His mighty power (Rom. 1:20), the outworking of which is not tied to long periods of time. Throughout the Bible there are countless instances of acts of creation, which take place without any passage of time. The creation miracles of Jesus in the New Testament (wine at the wedding in Cana, loaves and fishes at the feeding of the 5,000) took place instantly. Psalm 33:9 also testifies to the rapid nature of God’s creative acts: “For He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” This is exactly the same impression conveyed by the creation account itself through the repeated use of the constructions: “And God said … and it was so.” “And God said … and God saw” (that which had just been created).

If we were to here arbitrarily insert the oft-cited millions of years, we would rob God of the honor which is His due. The total testimony of the Bible, in all manner of ways, is that of instant results in response to the commands of God. Whatever the situation, this principle is valid—a command of the Lord is sufficient, and spontaneously the created Word is fulfilled: the blind immediately see, the dumb instantly speak, the lame take up their bed and walk, lepers become clean, and the dead rise without delay.

Mankind: Created on a particular day

The Bible emphatically testifies that man was not created over a long period of time, but on a very particular day: “In the day, that God created Adam, He made him in the likeness of God; male and female He created them, and He blessed them and gave them the name ‘mankind,’ in the day, that they were created” (Gen. 5:1–2; Elberf. translation).

Summary

The question about the duration of the creation days arises frequently. I believe it can be shown from a biblical and scientific viewpoint that one can have full confidence in the biblical account of a creation in six ordinary days.

References and notes

  1. Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, Christliche Literatur-Vertreitung, Bielefeld, Germany, 1997.
  2. Hans Rohrbach, Ein neuer Zugang zum Schöpfungsbericht (A New Approach to the Creation Account), Schritte, pp. 5–­10, 1982.
  3. Alexander Evertz, Martin Luther als Christ, als Mensch und als Deutscher (Martin Luther as a Christian, as a Person and as a German), Assendorf, 1982.
  4. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Zondervan Pub. House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1961.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

(Incidentally, what makes an engineer like Dr. Gitt an "information scientist"?)

I posted a chunk of this as a comment to a previous post, but it's apropos here:

Some Christians beg to differ with you: here's one (PDF) and here's another (link).


Some exerpts from the link (see the link for the full text):

"Hebrew dictionaries attest to the fact that the word Yom is used for anywhere from 12 hours up to a year, and even a vague "time period" of unspecified length.

[...]

Other Uses of Yom

Day is not the only translation for the word Yom. Here are some other uses.

Time
[...]
Year
[...]
Age
[...]
Ago
[...]
Always
[...]
Season
[...]
Chronicles
[...]
Continually
[...]
Ever
[...]
Evermore



The conclusions in the PDF (which goes into considerably more detail, so it's definitely worth reading by itself):

Conclusion: What does all the foregoing mean for understanding Genesis 1?

1) The uniqueness of the Hebrew numbering of the creative “yom” actually supports the view that the creative “yom” are not ordinary (24-hour) days.

2) The numbering of the creative "yom” does not exclude the “extended period” or “age” meaning of the Hebrew word “yom” when referring to the six creative times. The unique numbering of the creative times adds support for the “extended period” or “age” meaning.

3) There are no other applicable examples of the numbering of a sequence that is equivalent to the numbering of the creative “yom.” Assertions which attempt to interpret numberings which read “yom” “second” using numberings which read “in yom” “the second” are flawed.



-- creeper

radar said...

I read both, had read the second previously. The second is obviously bringing in major irrelevancies in an attempt to muddy the waters. Hey, we all agree YOM does not always mean a regular day of 24 hours.

The first pdf is more compelling, but the trouble is that his reasoning is basically to say that these days were unusual or highlighted by the manner in which they were numbered. This is easily understood when you understand that the days of creation would be pretty significant and worthy of being considered unusual. However, the specific use of "evening and morning" precludes the days being representative of long periods of time. Further on this comes with the next post.

Anonymous said...

"The first pdf is more compelling, but the trouble is that his reasoning is basically to say that these days were unusual or highlighted by the manner in which they were numbered."

Why is that "the trouble"? His point is that these words are numbered in a way that occurs nowhere else, which contradicts your saying that because these words are numbered in the same way here as elsewhere, that must mean they're used in the same way here as in those other instances.

"Evening" and "morning" can't have been intended literally either, since they are mentioned before the Sun was even created. They can just as easily denote the beginning and end of the various time periods.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

And while I'm here, can we take it that you're conceding that there is no study that shows that hundreds of ice core layers are created every year? That's "non-operative" now?

-- creeper

radar said...

God created the light before creating the source of the light. He therefore controlled when it happened to shine and where.

Evening and morning does signify one ordinary day. The pdf is nonsensical because it does not address the entire phrase and the usage thereof, it is a spin piece. The pdf writer did not wish to deal with number and that phrase at the same time because he knew he could not defend the position using any logic. The unusual way of numbering does not disprove a 24 hour day but merely proves that Moses was highlighting these days as special. Evening and morning, though, marks them as 24 hour days. Moses used this phrase because it specifies a normal duration to the day.

Not only did evening and morning become the model of a Jewish day, the seven day week has been pretty well universally adopted as well. I am guessing a 300 million year work day wouldn't work too well.

Ad nauseum with the ice cores. Studies show that the number of layers vary widely and cannot be interpreted by layer. One has to have an historical marker associated with the layer to be sure of the date. Many elements travel from layer to layer, making dating even more difficult...etc. It is not reliable, get over it.

radar said...

As to whether Dr. Gitt is qualified to be called an Information Scientist, he is almost overqualified:

Werner obtained his degree in engineering from the Technical University in Hanover, Germany. After receiving his Ph.D. he was appointed head of the Department of Information Technology at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt [PTB], in Braunschweig). Seven years later he was promoted to Director and Professor at PTB.1 His research concerns have involved information science, mathematics, and systems control technology. His many original research findings have been published in scientific journals or have been the subject of papers presented at scientific conferences and at universities in Germany and around the world.

He is the author of Did God Use Evolution?, If Animals Could Talk, Stars and their Purpose and In the Beginning was Information. Werner is also a renowned evangelist, having spoken widely on issues relating to the Bible and science. Though retired, he has contributed many articles to Creation magazine and the in-depth Journal of Creation (formerly TJ).
Publications

Dr. Gitt has written numerous scientific papers in the fields of information science, mathematics, and control engineering. He has also written several creationist books including:

* Did God Use Evolution?
* If Animals Could Talk
* In the Beginning was Information
* Stars and their Purpose: Signposts in Space

Dr Gitt has contributed many articles to Creation magazine (and Journal of Creation (formerly TJ), some of which are:

* 10 Dangers of theistic evolution
* Cloning: Right or Wrong?
* Counting the Stars
* Dazzling Design in Miniature
* God and the Extraterrestrials
* Information, Science and Biology (T)
* Weasel Words
* What about the ‘big bang’? (available in Russian)

Note

1. Three prerequisites must be fulfilled in order for the German Ministerium to award the title ‘Director and Professor’ at a German research institute, on the recommendation of the Praesidium. The person concerned must be:
1. A scientist. I.e. it is most definitely an academic title.
2. One who has published a significant number of original research papers in the technical literature.
3. Must head a department in his area of expertise, in which several working scientists are employed.

Anonymous said...

"Studies show that the number of layers vary widely and cannot be interpreted by layer."

Ah, you're repeating the claim. Well then let's see those studies.

And you do realize they'd have to demonstrate that ice layers aren't just a teensy weensy bit unreliable here and there, but you'd have to show they are off by a factor of 100?

And of course such studies don't exist, so this is yet another Waterloo for creationism.

"One has to have an historical marker associated with the layer to be sure of the date. Many elements travel from layer to layer, making dating even more difficult...etc. It is not reliable, get over it."

Links to the studies, Radar. Factor of 100 to 1.

You don't have it, so get over it.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

"God created the light before creating the source of the light. He therefore controlled when it happened to shine and where. "

It says God created light. It doesn't say he turned it on and off.

"Evening and morning does signify one ordinary day. The pdf is nonsensical because it does not address the entire phrase and the usage thereof, it is a spin piece."

Just because it focuses on yom does not make it a spin piece. Perhaps the author addresses it in his book on the reading of Genesis. Because it's not like it's impossible to address - see below.

"The pdf writer did not wish to deal with number and that phrase at the same time because he knew he could not defend the position using any logic."

Now you're engaging in mind-reading. Impressive. But seriously, you have no idea what this guy's motivations are, so knock it off.

"The unusual way of numbering does not disprove a 24 hour day but merely proves that Moses was highlighting these days as special."

AND it incidentally knocks out of the water your argument that the word yom has to be interpreted as literal 24-hour days here because the way it is used here is identical to the way it is used in other passages, where it did refer to literal 24-hour days.

That part is no longer operative.

"Evening and morning, though, marks them as 24 hour days. Moses used this phrase because it specifies a normal duration to the day.

Now you can read Moses's mind too - even more impressive. Yeah, right.

The words "evening" and "morning" are likewise used for meanings other than the end and beginning of literal 24-hour days (even by Moses), as discussed here.

Keep in mind that all these articles are not by some nefarious atheists.

"Not only did evening and morning become the model of a Jewish day, the seven day week has been pretty well universally adopted as well. I am guessing a 300 million year work day wouldn't work too well."

I don't know how that's supposed to relate to the preceding argument. The seven-day week was pretty widely accepted throughout the ancient world, based on the seven visible celestial objects. A seven-day week doesn't in hindsight become supportive of the accuracy of a creation myth. It can just as easily have worked the other way around. ("We have a seven-day week, now how did that come to be?")

And what's the story with insisting on something being wrong because it doesn't agree with the order of creation in Genesis when even Genesis doesn't agree with the order of creation in Genesis?

-- creeper

radar said...

Genesis One is an account of the order of creation. Genesis Two is a specific text about mankind. They are not two different accounts.

I long ago linked ice core articles and this is why I don't want to even mention them anymore because I am too busy with relevant things to do your research for you.

I said that numbers used with yom are always 24 hour days throughout the old testament. Still true. Evening and morning were also associated with each day. Still true.

Finally, creeper, you just cannot grasp the idea that evolution is a belief system, can you? It hasn't been observed to happen. It cannot be operationally shown to exist. You have to believe in it because you cannot prove it. You have your faith, I have mine. I think mine is more reasonable.

Anonymous said...

"Genesis One is an account of the order of creation. Genesis Two is a specific text about mankind. They are not two different accounts."

They describe two different orders, specifically one in which the animals are created before man and one in which man is created before the animals. That makes them two different accounts.

"I long ago linked ice core articles and this is why I don't want to even mention them anymore because I am too busy with relevant things to do your research for you."

You never linked an ice core article that backed up your recent claim that

"I said that numbers used with yom are always 24 hour days throughout the old testament. Still true. Evening and morning were also associated with each day. Still true.

Finally, creeper, you just cannot grasp the idea that evolution is a belief system, can you? It hasn't been observed to happen. It cannot be operationally shown to exist. You have to believe in it because you cannot prove it. You have your faith, I have mine. I think mine is more reasonable."

Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry, I hit "publish" when I mean to hit "preview". Comment coming up in a minute.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

"Genesis One is an account of the order of creation. Genesis Two is a specific text about mankind. They are not two different accounts."

They describe two different orders, specifically one in which animals are created before man and one in which man is created before animals. That makes them two different and contradictory accounts.

"I long ago linked ice core articles and this is why I don't want to even mention them anymore because I am too busy with relevant things to do your research for you."

You may have linked "ice core articles", but you never backed up your claim that "study of ice cores shows that many, perhaps hundreds of layers can be formed in one year".

Nice attempt at equivocation there, but it's not my research to try to figure out where you got this ridiculous notion.

This is quite a recent question, and already it has turned into an issue that you have to evade at all costs. Well that didn't take long.

"I said that numbers used with yom are always 24 hour days throughout the old testament. Still true."

But they are used in a different grammatical form in the creation account, which nullifies your claim that they are used the same here as elsewhere and therefore should be treated the same. Sloppy logic on your part. Yes, the grammatical form here is different because it is the account of creation, which is special, but then why would you want to compare it to a different grammatical form used elsewhere where it is used to describe something that is not as special as creation?

They are used in different ways, and so you cannot conclude that they must automatically be the same as a different use referring to something else elsewhere.

"Evening and morning were also associated with each day. Still true."

And all three have been used in that way - i.e. other than their literal meanings of 24-hour day and sunset and sunrise, including by Moses - elsewhere.

"Finally, creeper, you just cannot grasp the idea that evolution is a belief system, can you? It hasn't been observed to happen."

Seeing as you think that according to the theory of evolution bacteria should evolve into non-bacteria in a lab experiment, you have shown that you have exactly zero grasp of this topic, and have abandoned all credibility with respect to it.

Examples of evolution in lab settings have been pointed out to you more than once. The observation of evolution in the fossil record has also been pointed out to you more than once.

"It cannot be operationally shown to exist."

It has been, that's what those links we gave you were about.

"You have to believe in it because you cannot prove it. You have your faith, I have mine. I think mine is more reasonable."

My "faith" and what I think about evolution are two separate things. My beliefs don't require evolution to be true, but your belief (which is a subset of Christianity, not the same as Christianity) requires evolution not to be true. You have far more at stake here than I do, which is why you cannot afford to be reasonable.

All those talking points you read about "evolution being a religion" make you overlook the fact that there are millions of Christians and other non-atheists who accept the theory of evolution as valid. This is not a Christian vs. atheist issue.

-- creeper

loboinok said...

In reference to chapters 1 and 2 of Genisis...

They describe two different orders, specifically one in which the animals are created before man and one in which man is created before the animals. That makes them two different accounts.

Or... it makes them the same account with different kinds of animals.

In reference to a 24 hour day in Genisis...

They are used in different ways, and so you cannot conclude that they must automatically be the same as a different use referring to something else elsewhere.

See above.