A Critique Of The Institute For Creation Research's Article "The Meaning Of Day In Genesis 1"

This is my critique of an article found on the Institute For Creation Research’s website. Here is the link to the article:

Let me critique things from the article. First, the author of the post said "Many have sought to redefine the term in light of the naturalistic presuppositions of modern scientism." -- But this is simply false. Theistic scientists such as Hugh Ross, Fazale Rana, David Snoke, etc. have no naturalistic presuppositions whatsoever (the very nature of being a theist is being open to both supernatural and natural causes), nor do they adhere to “scientism” which is the belief that science is the ONLY way to understand truth. Many OECs (granted, not scientists, but OECs nonetheless) such as William Lane Craig and Greg Koukl have criticized scientism and have shown that it is logically self defeating.

Moreover, no one is redefining anything. Yom actually has these 4 different definitions. But even if they weren’t, I see no reason why it’s impossible for them to be metaphors. Metaphors are present all throughout The Bible, especially in the new testament where Paul talks about “being crucified with Christ” – Galatians 2:20 ((was Paul really beside Christ on a cross of his own when he was crucified? A literal interpretation would force you to that conclusion)) and when God is described as “a strong tower” (Proverbs 18:10), are we to believe that God is literally a building with doors and windows? God is also described as having “wings” (Psalm 17:8). So…not only is God a building (according to a “literal” interpretation of the text), He’s a building with wings like a bird. What an odd picture of God? Michaelangelo was way off. Lol

Clearly there’s nothing wrong with interpreting a phrase in The Bible here and there as metaphorical when reason (or science) tells you it makes more sense than the literal definition.

The article said “The communication of language is through words and their use. We must ask ourselves why Moses was using the words he did, and not other words. hat is the meaning he was trying to communicate to his original audience and to us, as well? Why did Moses use the word ‘day’ and not the more generic term, ‘time’?” – Because in the ancient Hebrew language, there was no other word to denote a long period of time other than to use “Yom”. Now, in modern Hebrew, you’ve got “yom” and “olam” but in ancient Hebrew, “olam” could only be used to mean “once upon a time” or “a long time ago” it could never be used to describe a generic long period of time. So why didn’t Moses use any other words? Because he had no other words at his disposal, which is kind of hard for us modern English speakers to imagine since we have NUMEROUS words to describe long periods of time. The Hebrew language however, did not. It only had “yom”. It wasn’t a very large language. It only had about 3,000 words if you don’t count the names of places and people.

The article also said that Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 were irrelevant to discussion on Genesis 1 and that they were “imply using figures of speech (similes) to show that God is not constrained by the same time parameters as are humans.” Indeed. He is not constrained by the same time parameters of humans. I agree with that. That’s why the verses are saying that an incredible length of time for God doesn’t seem like long for Him given His eternal existence. For example, 1,000 years seem like such an incredibly long time from our perspective because of the 70-120 years we human beings have to live in this physical world, but a day doesn’t seem like that long. Well, a thousand years doesn’t seem that long to God. It’s but a mere moment for Him. So, the 4-5 billion year length of creating activity really would seem like a work week for God. Therefore, I don’t think it’s really irrelevant to the discussion of Genesis 1-2 at all.

The article goes on to concede that the word “Yom” can have various different definitions including a long period of time. It then says that the context in which the word is used can help us discern which definition is meant (again, I agree).

The article said “If the meaning of the word "day" with a number always means a 24-hour period of time outside of Genesis 1, then it should also mean a 24-hour period of time inside Genesis 1.” – This is demonstrably false. Old Earth Ministries has a list in which “Yom” is used in different contexts outside Genesis 1. To see them, click on this link --> http://www.oldearth.org/word_study_yom.htm

The writer of the article then seems to think that if something is written in a poetic style, it must therefore not be history. He (or she) seems to think that the genres of history and poetry are mutually opposed. But just because something is poetry doesn’t mean it’s not historical. I can easily conceive of someone writing a poetic account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or of the fall of the World Trade Centers. But moreover, there are accounts in The Bible which are poetic which the majority of Christian scholars would affirm as historical, for example, Psalm 22 is taken as an account of a (albeit, future at the time) historical event (i.e the crucifixion of Jesus Christ). It’s a poetic prophesy of something that actually happened. If poetry were opposed to history, we would have to either conclude that Jesus was never crucified (which even extra-biblical documents written in the first century tell us, yes He was crucified) OR we would have to no longer count Psalm 22 as a passage about an actual event.

Moreover, the Psalms are filled with events that actually happened and they’re written in a poetic way. Psalm 51 is about King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, and Psalm 139 is about his birth!

The article said "The meaning of the term 'day' must be seen in conjunction with the use of 'evening' and 'morning.' Those who would argue that the days are long periods contend that these terms can have figurative meanings. " -- Indeed. I believe they could be taken as figurative. "Evening" meaning "end point" and "Morning" meaning "beginning point". That is, "evening and morning" denotes the end of one creation era and the beginning of another. . This way the text reads like this “And there was an end and a beginning, the fourth age.”

Do all the instances of "morning" and evening" refer to a literal period of time? Here is an example from Moses:

    In the morning it [grass] flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away. (Psalm 90:6)

This verse refers to the life cycle of grass (compared to the short life span of humans). Obviously, the grass does not grow up in one morning and die by the same evening. The period of time refers to its birth (morning) and its death (evening) at least several weeks (if not months) later.

The first thing one notices when looking at Genesis 1 is the unusual construction surrounding the words morning and evening together with day. This combination is very rare, occurring only ten times in the Old Testament, six of which, of course, are in the Genesis creation account. The remaining four verses (NASB) are listed below:

    "This is the offering which Aaron and his sons are to present to the LORD on the day when he is anointed; the tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening." (Leviticus 6:20)
    Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony, and in the evening it was like the appearance of fire over the tabernacle, until morning. (Numbers 9:15)
    "For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning." (Deuteronomy 16:4)
    "And the vision of the evenings and mornings which has been told is true; but keep the vision secret, for it pertains to many days in the future." (Daniel 8:26)

The first three verses obviously refer to 24 hour days, since this is readily apparent from the context. The fourth one refers to many evenings and mornings, which "pertains to many days in the future." This verse actually refers to events that are yet to happen, which is 3000 years of days from when it was originally written. One could easily say that these mornings and evenings represent thousands of years.

Anyway, I’d like to add regarding “Evening and morning” that, it really doesn’t matter, I don’t think anyways, how much the terms are used to denote literal evenings and literal mornings (which is what the article writer seemed to be saying). As long as it’s even possible that they can be figurative and if we have biblical examples of the terms being used to denote longer periods of time (which we have, as I’ve shown above), then we’re not FORCED to take this particular instance in Genesis 1 to mean a 144 hour creation week. Now, this doesn’t mean it WASN’T a 144 hour creation week, but it does mean that we’re not compelled to take that view. It certainly doesn’t warrant the charge I get from many young earth creationists that I’m “taking man’s word over God’s word” if I think otherwise. It could be either. Let’s integrate the data from the other creation accounts in The Bible and perhaps look at the scientific evidence to see which interpretation of “yom” and “boqur & ereb” is the most plausible.

The article then goes on to use the common Exodus 20:11 argument. In Exodus 20:11, God says "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." and they make the point that since God compares His creation days with our work days that therefore, they must be of the same length. As far as the Exodus 20:11 argument goes, I usually give this in response.

This would be a good point, if one ignored the other Sabbaths in the Old Testament. The Sabbath for the land consisted of a period of six years of cultivation, followed by a year of rest. The importance of the Sabbath seems to lie in the one in seven principle.

"Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard.'" (Leviticus 25:2-4)

This text establishes the principle of six periods of work followed by one period of rest. And in this case, the "days" are one year long.

It was a unit-by-unit comparison rather than a minute by minute comparison. No need for both God's work week and ours to be the same length. It's merely an analogy.

This text establishes the principle of six periods of work followed by one period of rest. And in this case, the "days" are one year long.

God’s creation days = 1 in 7.
Man’s work week = 1 in 7.
The harvest = 1 in 7.

It was a unit-by-unit comparison rather than a minute by minute comparison. God’s saying “Just as I took 6 periods of time to work and took one off, so you should work 6 periods of time and take one off”

There's also a 1 in 7 principle when it comes to the judgments near the end of the world. As David Snoke points out in "The Biblical Case For An Old Earth", In the book of Revelation, After 6 of the seals were broken, there was half an hour of silence in Heaven before they started up the judgments again and opened the 7th seal (except the next time, trumpets would be blown before the judgments). So even God's end-of-the-world judgments appear to have a "Sabbath".

*Addendum: the author of this blog post has changed his views about the Genesis. While he remains an Old Earth Creationist, he has renounced concordism and the day-age interpretation. He is now considering either The Framework Hypothesis or The Functional Creation interpretation. That said, the author still believes that these arguments render the Day-Age view plausible if the interpretive framework of Concordism were valid. This article should be used for research purposes only.