Thursday, January 29, 2015

Justin Taylor offers biblical reasons to doubt 24-hour creation days

I have always held to the belief that the earth is relatively young. As to the exact age, I cannot say, but I still believe that its age can be measured in terms of thousands of years rather than millions or billions.

Justin Taylor leaves open the possibility of an old earth. In doing so, he offers some biblical reasons to doubt that the creation days mentioned in Genesis refer to 24-hour periods of time. He concludes:
God is portrayed as a workman going through his workweek, working during the day and resting for the night. Then on his Sabbath, he enjoys a full and refreshing rest. Our days are like God's workdays, but not identical to them.

How long were God's workdays? The Bible doesn't say. But I see no reason to insist that they were only 24 hours long.
I remain convinced of my position. First of all, regardless of how we wish to handle "day" in Genesis, each one, save for the seventh, has the clear distinction of having an "evening and morning." If the word "day" is supposed to refer to an indeterminate amount of time, does that mean the words "evening" and "morning" are just as ambiguous?

Let me pause to say that I realize the first three days wouldn't have included sunset and sunrise, because the sun wasn't created until the fourth day. But since even the original readers of this account would have only known days marked by an evening and morning, it makes sense that an author wishing to convey that the world was created in six 24-hour days would use the terminology he did.

Secondly, Jesus seemed to believe that the each day in Genesis referred to a rather short time span when he said that "from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'" "From the beginning" doesn't leave much room to squeeze in vast amounts of time.

There are other reasons for my skepticism, but in spite of that I do appreciate Justin's post. It endeavors to interpret the Genesis creation account in light of scripture rather than the prevailing scientific consensus. The belief that the creation days weren't necessarily 24 hours in length does not mean that one must assume macroevolution and death before the fall.

Justin also reminds us that some of the great names in Reformed history were open to a non-literal interpretation of the creation account. He quotes J. Gresham Machen, who wrote, "It is certainly not necessary to think that the six days spoken of in that first chapter of the Bible are intended to be six days of twenty four hours each."

I would agree. After all, determining the age of the earth is not as fundamental as, say, the deity of Christ.

In short, calculating the age of the earth is not a hill upon which I am willing to die. If I can find common ground with Arminians, I can certainly find common ground with Old-Earthers.

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