Editor’s note: This is in response to Tom Gilson’s article “Young Earth or Old? The Debate That Divides Christians — But Shouldn’t“ Normally I wouldn’t bother posting a comment on an article I’ve read to this site, but I’m making an exception here because 1. This is a topic I’ve written on a number of times on this site, so it’s fitting here and 2. For some reason my comment remains marked as “spam” and thus is not visible under Tom’s article, though I’ve indicated it’s not spam. And rather that speculate why it remains unpublished as of this writing I offer it to you here in its entirety, with a few added notes for clarification.
Tom, you’re usually right on the mark, but here you’re advocating a very dangerous position. You’re basically advocating “leave it to the experts.” You’re stating this issue is so complex it requires “a high level of expertise in multiple fields, including biblical Hebrew, Ancient Near East literature and culture, and four or five major branches of science.”
Really? Should we then go back to the days when the mass was all in Latin, read and understood only by the highly trained clergy? μη γενοιτο! (That’s me genoito! the biblical Greek for Never! (NIV) or (God forbid! (KJV) – both which accurately translate the sense, without translating the literal words. see 1 Cor 6.15, et. al.) This is the reason for the reformation and the protestant church. We evangelical protestants believe scripture is understandable because it was written to be understood, and scripture interprets scripture. We don’t need an expert to tell us what it means.
I don’t need a PhD in mathematics to know 2 + 2 = 4, not 4 billion. And while I’ve studied both Biblical Greek and Hebrew, I don’t need them to know that an “evening” and a “morning” – as repeated in Genesis (Gen 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, etc.) makes 1 day for each reference, not 1 million or 1 billion years. When’s the last time you squeezed a billion years between an “evening” and a “morning”? Even if you could, would you call it a day?
Regarding scripture interpreting scripture, What is the meaning of the 4th commandment to remember the Sabbath? (Ex 20.8-11) And what is the meaning of verse 11 where he gives the reason for the commandment, and upon which we base our week:
“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
These are the words directly from God, by the way, not Moses’ interpretation.
If you want to see “ages” or “millions of years” in the days of Genesis 1, then is the Sabbath also a million or billion year rest? Does that mean our work week should consist of “Days” that last millions or billions of years? One good thing – our weekends would be millions or billions of years long. We could spend our entire lives off for the weekend! You see you can’t make sense of the commandment without taking the natural, “literal” meaning of a “day.”
It appears to me that you and others who insist on long ages during the creation want to make the Genesis 1 passage speaking of the days of creation “complex” because you are unwilling to take the plain “literal” meaning of the text. In so doing you make other portions of scripture incoherent or contradictory.
1. Tom Gilson, “Young Earth or Old? The Debate That Divides Christians — But Shouldn’t“, Stream.org, July 8, 2018, https://stream.org/young-earth-old-earth-debate-divides-christians/
2. If you want a powerful, persuasive argument grounded in a proper understanding of the Hebrew of Genesis 1, see the analysis of Genesis 1 by Hebraist Dr. Steven Boyd in “Thousands…Not Billions“, ICR DVD documentary, 2005
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