Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Darwin versus God in Genesis One verse Five

The 24 hour day.

Ah, where the rubber meets the road.
There are some who try to find a "gap" in Genesis earlier on within the phrase "without form and void" depending on your particular translation. The Hebrew phrase does not support the idea of a world created, destroyed and recreated within the three Hebrew words "tohu a bohu" as explained in the Genesis 1:2 post. So then we get to verse five and we come to the second place where long time advocates try to shoehorn in a few thousand and then million and finally billion years. As usual, let us present the verse itself:

"God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day." New King James Version.

How appropriate that, in verse four, God separated the light from darkness. God from the beginning of time to the end of time recognizes light and darkness, right and wrong, good and evil. The Creator God who made all things also has the right and ability to distinguish between what is positive and what is negative, not just what appears to be, but what is. Christians understand that God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and is not limited to observance of what we do and say.

Now in verse five God gives names to what man will call the presence and absence of light in the physical realm and begins to set up the blueprint for daily life. In Genesis, at the beginning of time God defines the day and also the week, by which we continue to measure our lives. That He is limiting this to twenty-four hour days is shown clearly by the phrase "evening and the morning were"

So we see that light stands for truth and dark stands for deception but in the material world light is simply the means God uses to enable us to see what is there and incidently to bring heat and energy to us on the planet Earth. The Laws of Thermodynamics technically deal with heat and cold and we understand that light is associated with heat and darkenss with cold. The Universe is running down from hot to cold. God began the process when He said, "Let there be light." I personally think it is very appropriate that God transmits a spiritual meaning to us within the account of the creation of all things.

To this day the Rabbinical Jews measure a day as evening first and then morning. In the time of Christ, the days in Judea were measured from sundown to sundown rather than sunup to sunup as we do in modern society. This is why both the soldiers and the onlookers were concerned about whether Jesus had died and stuck him in his side to be sure. All knew that Jesus could not legally be taken and placed in a tomb during a Sabbath and a High Sabbath day was going to begin at sundown on the day Jesus Christ was crucified. Because the Jews counted a day as God the Creator had created them, it was hardly unusual that Jesus would rise very early in the morning on the Lord's Day, Sunday, because in the manner that the Jews counted a day Sunday had begun many hours earlier and was somewhere in the vicinity of half over by the time Jesus arose.

Earlier I posted information concerning the word for day
found in Genesis, "yom" and gave evidence that it truly means a twenty-four hour day. That is a thorough post, so if you have doubts I recommend you read it again.

1:5 Hebrew OT: Westminster Leningrad Codex
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ לָאֹור֙ יֹ֔ום וְלַחֹ֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום אֶחָֽד׃ פ

בראשית 1:5 Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants Only)
ויקרא אלהים ׀ לאור יום ולחשך קרא לילה ויהי־ערב ויהי־בקר יום אחד׃ פ

בראשית 1:5 Hebrew OT: WLC (Consonants & Vowels)
וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים ׀ לָאֹור יֹום וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יֹום אֶחָד׃ פ

Not that many, if any of you read Hebrew. You do know that the original Hebrew is written with consonants and no vowels. In that earlier post I went into detail about the usage of the word, "yom" which is the Hebrew for "day" in Genesis chapter one and in many, many places in the Bible. The normal translation for the word is "day" unless the context of the passage requires another translation.

This excerpt points out compelling reasons for the structure of Genesis chapter one to be one that demands yom = day.

Is Genesis poetry / figurative, a theological argument (polemic) and thus not history?

Critique of the Framework Hypothesis

by Dr Don Batten, Dr David Catchpoole, Dr Jonathan D. Sarfati and Dr Carl Wieland

(extracted and adapted from chapter 2 of the Creation Answers Book)



The ‘framework hypothesis’ is probably the favourite view among respectability-craving seminaries that say they accept biblical authority but not six ordinary days of creation.

It is strange, if the literary framework were the true meaning of the text, that no-one interpreted Genesis this way until Arie Noordtzij in 1924. Actually it’s not so strange, because the leading framework exponents, Meredith Kline and Henri Blocher, admitted that their rationale for this bizarre, novel interpretation was a desperation to fit the Bible into the alleged ‘facts’ of science.

For example, Kline admitted in his major framework article, ‘To rebut the literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation “week” propounded by the young-earth theorists is a central concern of this article.’1

And Blocher said, ‘This hypothesis overcomes a number of problems that plagued the commentators [including] the confrontation with the scientific vision of the most distant past.’ And he further admits that he rejects the plain teaching of Scripture because, ‘The rejection of all the theories accepted by the scientists requires considerable bravado.’2

Clearly, the framework idea did not come from trying to understand Genesis, but from trying to counter the view, held by scholar and layman alike for 2,000 years, that Genesis records real events in real space and time.3

Are the Genesis 1 days real history?

Genesis is, without any doubt whatsoever, most definitely written as historical narrative. Hebrew uses special grammatical forms for recording history, and Genesis 1–11 uses those. It has the same structure as Genesis 12 onwards and most of Exodus, Joshua, Judges, etc., which no one claims is ‘poetry’ or not meant to be taken as history. Genesis is not poetry or allegory.

Genesis is peppered with ‘And … and … and … ’ which characterises historical writing (this is technically called the ‘vav—ו, often rendered as waw—consecutive’).

The Hebrew verb forms of Genesis 1 have a particular feature that fits exactly what the Hebrews used for recording history or a series of past events. That is, only the first verb in a sequence of events is perfect (qatal), while the verbs that continue the narrative are imperfects (vayyiqtols).4 In Genesis 1, the first verb, bara (create), is perfect, while the subsequent verbs are imperfect.5 A proper translation in English recognises this Hebrew form and translates all the verbs as perfect (or past) tense.

psalms 78:9-14

The Psalms are poetic, but nevertheless often refer to real (historical) events

Genesis 1–11 also has several other hallmarks of historical narrative, such as ‘accusative particles’ that mark the objects of verbs. These are not translated into English (e.g. Hebrew ‘et’ in Genesis 1:1). Terms are often carefully defined. Also, parallelisms, a feature of Hebrew poetry (e.g. in many Psalms), are almost absent in Genesis.6

The rare pieces of poetry (e.g. Genesis 1:27 and 2:23) comment on real events anyway, as do many of the Psalms (e.g. Psalm 78). But if Genesis were really poetic, the whole book would look like these rare verses and it doesn’t.

Advocates of the Framework idea argue that because Genesis 2 is (they say) arranged topically rather than chronologically, so is Genesis 1. Therefore, they argue, the days are ‘figurative’ rather than real days. But this is like arguing that because the gospel of Matthew is arranged topically, then the gospel of Luke is not arranged chronologically.

It is also logical (and in line with ancient near eastern literary practice) to have an historical overview (chapter 1) preceding a recap of the details (chapter 2) about certain events already mentioned. Chapter 2 does not have the numbered sequence of days that chapter 1 has, so how can it determine how we view chapter 1?

Hebrew scholars concur that Genesis was written as history. For example, the Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr wrote:

‘ … probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that
  1. creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience
  2. the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story
  3. Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.’7

Barr, consistent with his neo-orthodox views, did not believe Genesis, but he understood what the Hebrew writer clearly intended to be understood. Some criticize our use of the Barr quote, because he does not believe in the historicity of Genesis. That is precisely why we use his statement: he is a hostile witness. With no need to try to harmonize Genesis with anything, because he does not see it as carrying any authority, Barr is free to state the clear intention of the author. This contrasts with some ‘evangelical’ theologians who try to retain some sense of authority without actually believing it says much, if anything, about history—‘wrestling with the text’, we’ve heard it called.

Hebrew scholar Dr Stephen Boyd has shown, using a statistical comparison of verb type frequencies of historical and poetic Hebrew texts, that Genesis 1 is clearly historical narrative, not ‘poetry’. He concluded, ‘There is only one tenable view of its plain sense: God created everything in six literal days.’

Some other Hebrew scholars who support literal creation days include:

  • Dr Andrew Steinmann, Associate Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University in Illinois.8
  • Dr Robert McCabe, Professor of Old Testament at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.9
  • Dr Ting Wang, lecturer in biblical Hebrew at Stanford University.10
The rest of the article includes all the footnotes. Drs. Sarfati and Batten also mention this in their book, 15 Reasons to take Genesis as History:

"The strongest structural parallel of Gen. 1 is Num. 7:10-84. Bother are structured accounts, both contain the Hebrew word for day (yom) with a numeric - indeed both are sequences of days. In Num 7, each of the 12 different tribes brought an offering on the different days."

Yom as day in Genesis one is the first usage, the most common usage, the structurally accurate usage and so there is no hermeneutical reason to translate the word to mean anything other than a twenty-four hour day. Exegetical study of the Bible is the attempt to get the meaning from within the words of scripture. Eisegesis is attempt to input your meaning into the scripture:

"Exegesis is a theological term used to describe an approach to interpreting a passage in the Bible by critical analysis. Proper exegesis includes using the context around the passage, comparing it with other parts of the Bible, and applying an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing, in an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey. In other words, it is trying to "pull out" of the passage the meaning inherent in it. The opposite of exegesis is eisegesis."

Yom as day in Genesis one, a 24 hour day with an evening and a morning, is the intended meaning as careful exegetical study shows. This is just one problem for Christians who seek to stretch Genesis one out to include millions of years, that the passage is written as an historical narrative and the days are 24-hour days. In order to believe that the earth required more than six days of creation you must reject the Book of Genesis. More on that later.


Anonymous said...


I'm not sure what the title of this is "Darwin versus God...."

From what I can tell is you are trying to prove that the Bible says the earth was created in 6 days. Literally. I think the only group of people who this matters to is other Bible literalists who think differently. If that is the case, then there is no need to read on.

Non bible literalists don't care if the Bible says the universe was created in 6 days. The difference is non bible literalists don't use circular reasoning to prove that a statement in the bible is true.

You think:
1. The Bible says the universe was created in 6 days.
2. The Bible is the word of god.
3. The universe was created in 6 days.

I think:
1. The Bible says the universe was created in 6 days. (probably, I guess...if there is some controversy about the beginning of genesis I could really care less)
2. Is there any proof of this?
3. He created light and then stars? What backwards design process is this?
4. Why would he do that?

This post has nothing to do with Darwin vs. God. This post should be titled "Young Earth Bible Literalists vs. Old Earth Bible Literalists in Genesis One Verse Five".


Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct, Lava. This has nothing to do with Darwin. At best it's a dispute among Christians.

And that backwards design process sure is a weird one.

-- creeper

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the read and since God created all of us as individuals, I do agree on some things, I don't agree on others. I have never understood the Bible-Beagle argument. God created everything and everyone believes in something. If you believe in the Bible, you can't prove it. If you believe in Darwin, you can't prove it. My religious mentor was a Franciscan Monk/archaeologist who taught me that the more the Bible is put to science, the more the Bible is proven accurate. Maybe, not literal, but accurate. It is sort of like God is always teaching his children. The more we learn, the more he gives us, as we are capable of understanding. God gave us the Bible and it's scribes and he gave us Darwin. Those that are fighting over it, are fighting themselves, if not the creator of all things himself.