By Greg Neyman
© Old Earth Ministries
This question was published in Dr. John's Q&A by John Morris in March 1998. The reasoning here by Morris is that if it is just the fact that God created, then the time does not matter. In referring to evangelical leaders who say this, he calls them "semi-creationists". However, as one of these semi-creationists, I fully accept that God created the world, and that Genesis is the inerrant, literal account of that creation. Indeed, we are "full creationists."
To illustrate his argument, Morris uses what can be called the "grandmother hypothesis." A grandmother, sitting in a rocking chair reading her Bible, would get the plain meaning of 24-hour days when she reads Genesis. I agree, however, a scientist, reading the same passage, interprets it as long ages. It all depends on who is reading it. The Bible can mean many things to many people, and have many different interpretations. Unfortunately, young earth creationists insist that they have the right interpretation, and everyone else is false.
He discusses the use of the Hebrew word "yom," which means day. He claims that it almost always means a literal day. In reality, yom is translated with many different meanings, from a 12 hour period, all the way to eternity. For more, see Word Study: Yom.
He says it means a 24 hour day when it is modified by a number (2nd day, 3rd day, etc.). The same rule applies if it is accompanied by "evening and/or morning" and when it is used in its plural form. Unfortunately, these are all rules made up by Hebrew scholars, which are all young earth believers. There are other Hebrew scholars who disagree. These so-called rules of Hebrew interpretation were invented to support the young earth viewpoint, and have no basis in fact.
On one point we do agree. Morris says the author of the creation account is telling a story, and "there is no indication that it is figurative. Continuing, Morris says there is "no hint of major time gaps." This is an obvious referral to the gap theory. However, there is nothing that would prevent such an interpretation, if one wanted to believe in the gap theory.
Morris says that inclusions of time references in the early chapters of Genesis, such as days, weeks, years, indicates the Bible is being specific about these events. As an old earth creationist, I agree. Day means day. However, the length of the day is what is in question.
Morris also says the genealogical records of Genesis 5 and 11 are real, and not mythological. I agree completely. The difference is that I believe there may be gaps in the genealogies, and he does not...but both of us agree that it speaks of real people.
In the end, he goes back to his hypothetical reader (the grandmother). I agree, but a different hypothetical reader would have a different interpretation. This hypothetical reader proves nothing. To the grandmother, an understanding of the creation being 24 hours is sufficient. To the scientist, long ages are sufficient. The Bible is written to be "all things to all people." Both interpretations can be read into Genesis, and both lead you to Christ.
Dr. John's Q&A #111, published on the web at http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=1177
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