An event that is getting a lot of attention is the upcoming debate with Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye. This debate isn’t such a big deal except that it is stirring up the age old nonsense about the age of the earth. So I dug through my archives and found an older email over this very issue. I am re-posting it here.
Many young earth proponents take a position that Genesis 1 is a literal, however many of them miss the point of the historical narratives. They get wrapped up in how God created, how long God took to create, and how long ago God created. All three of these questions miss God’s emphasis in the passage as confirmed by Jesus. The historical narrative according Jesus is that in the beginning God created us, God made us man and woman, and God made man and woman for marriage. Notice Jesus mentions nothing about length of time, duration of creation event, or any other tangible sign of the passage of time. He simply starts with “Genesis” in the beginning. It is a throw back to the opening of Genesis chapter 1.
I concur with many young earth people that Genesis 1 can’t be prose or poetry in its classification though it could be in style. I believe it is historical narrative that is literal. Which leads us to a very simple question. Did God create the world in 6 days? I think the evidence is quite clear from the Scriptures that the answer is NO. There are to many literal and literary problems with this as you will see.
Below is the event of creation in both Hebrew and English.
In Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 we see the exact same sentence structure, grammar structure, and words used.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
It is quite simple to see that whether it is a figurative or a literal writing of the creation account it follows the same format in each of the verses there by confirming our earlier comments. When you take a look at how the author describes which day it is there is an oddity. The oddity is that every where else in chapter one that it refers to something specific it adds definite article (Ha). That definite article is missing from the descriptions of the day. This literary nuisance is telling because in the very next chapter it continues following that exact same pattern of not giving us a definite article.
Genesis 2:4 “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”
So in Chapter 1 it clearly describes “days” of creation that are separate and individual. Yet in chapter 2 with the exact same literary style, context, and linguistic structure it tells us that God created the Heavens and the Earth in one day. So did God do it in a 6 literal 24 hour periods of time or in 6 sequential periods of time or did He do it in one period of time or in one 24 hour period of time? Genesis chapter 1 and 2 when taken together give the literal 6 day creation period quite a significant problem. I will come back to this later.
If you truly believe that creation was in 6 literal 24 hour periods of time you must answer why it isn’t a 24 hour time period in Gen 2:4. The next problem you have if you buy the literal 24 hour creation is day 7. In Genesis 2:1 it tells us
“2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and wall the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
This is a major problem. Here God clearly breaks the pattern of the previous 6 days. Day 7 has no evening and morning which is an important tidbit in this passage. It is important that we realize that Day 7 never has a conclusion which means God is still resting. The New Testament affirms that the 7th day is still going on today. In Hebrews 3 and 4 it makes the connection to the 7th day still going on in verses
Hebrews 3: 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Hebrews 3:18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?
Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.
Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
“As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Hebrews 4: 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.
Hebrews 4:9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
So we can see that the author of Hebrew’s clearly states that God’s rest is ongoing, that He rested on the seventh day and is still resting (notice still no mention of night), and we should strive to enter the ongoing rest.
A hermeneutical principle often forgot is that when the Scriptures group a category of things together they are all in the same category. So the fruits of the Spirit are all character traits, the Gifts of the Spirits are not natural abilities, but spiritual abilities, the 7 stars, the 7 messengers, the 7 trumpets, and the 7 days of creation.
Hermeneutically by the mere fact the 7th day has no evening and is still ongoing it absolutely destroys the young earth or literal 24 hour period of time theory.
There is no evening or night in day 7 thereby eliminating its potential of being a literal 24 hour creation event especially when combined with Hebrews 3 and 4.
Including Genesis 2:4 which has all of creation happening in 24 hours.
Evening and Morning are very significant and missing from Day 7 in both Genesis and Exodus making it a longer than 24 hour period of time.
YOM is used in Gen 2:1 and 4. Neither of which can be literal 24 hour periods of time
They must literally mean sequence of events because Day 7 will continue till the earth is destroyed and God creates the New Heaven and New Earth. By sticking to the literal 24 hour period there are far more theological problems than many realize or even know what to do with. For example Day 1-6 is literal because it has evening and night, morning and dark. Day 7 does not. Gen 2:4 tells us that it all took place in 24 hours. Hebrews 3 and 4 tells us God is still resting from his work. However a 24 hour rendering of Day 7 would necessitate that God is back at work creating, but the Scriptures clearly state He is resting till He creates the New Heaven and New Earth. The Sequence is Day 1-6 God works, Day 7 God rests, Day 8 God begins creating again. God also in Gen 2:4 referred to the creation of the world as a one day event, but it wasn’t, Day 7 shows us that.