Twelve of the Most Annoying Arguments Used Against Biblical Creation, Part 3

(Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

9. The days in Genesis do not have to be 24-hour days.

Why It Sounds Good

In passages like Zechariah 14:20, which talks of the day of the Lord, and 2 Peter 3:8, the word “day” is used for more than a twenty-four-hour time period and 2 Peter 3:8 teaches that, for God, a “day is like a thousand years.” Therefore, the Bible student is not tied to interpreting the Genesis account of “day” in a twenty-four-hour fashion.

Why It Is Annoying

It is true that the Bible uses the word “day” in many different ways. It speaks of day as twenty-four hours, as signifying a time period, as describing the difference between day and night. So, how would one know which use is being used? Context, always context. When Genesis 1 and 2 are examined, it can readily be seen that even it uses the word day in different fashions. But this is actually an argument against playing fast and loose with the word. For if the context itself indicates that it is using day in a different sense, then it will determine its own meaning. So how is day used in the passage?

  • Genesis 1:5—Day describes the period of light, as opposed to dark.
  • Genesis 1:5—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 1:8—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 1:13—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 1:14—Day is used for the light time.
  • Genesis 1:16—Day is used for the light time.
  • Genesis 1:18—Day is used for the light time.
  • Genesis 1:19—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 1:23—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 1:31—Day is used for both morning and evening.
  • Genesis 2:2—Day is used in conjunction with the other morning and evening days, indicating a parallel.
  • Genesis 2:2—Day is used in conjunction with the other morning and evening days, indicating a parallel.
  • Genesis 2:3—Day is used in conjunction with the other morning and evening days, indicating a parallel.
  • Genesis 2:4—Day is used as a description of a period of time.
  • Genesis 2:17—Day is used as a description of a period of time.

When the context is considered, the text itself indicates a distinction in how the word day should be understood. Sometimes day is used as the period of light as opposed to dark. Sometimes day is used as a period of time. But is that the only way day is used? No, it is not. There is clearly, in this passage, a third use of day that is distinguished from these other uses. This idea of a twenty-four-hour day most naturally fits the context. This also fits with the implication in Exodus 20:11 that the days are literal days, and the observation that whenever the word day is used with “evening and morning” or with a specific numeric modifier, it always means a twenty-four-hour day.

Taking this idea even further, it is often pointed out that the seventh day does not include morning and evening and so it cannot be a literal day. But this argument backfires. Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle point out, “If the exclusion of ‘evening and morning’ allows the seventh day to be longer, then this is really unintentional admission that the first six days were literal twenty-four hour days.”1 This argument used against YEC ignores the contextual evidence.

10. The Bible isn’t meant to be a scientific textbook.

Why It Sounds Good

It has been said by many, “The Bible tells us the way to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” The ultimate purpose of the Bible is not to make scientific pronouncements, but to show man the nature of God, salvation, and the restoration of creation. If the Bible is seen as merely a religious book, then we can do science however we see fit and it will never conflict with theological truth.

Why It Is Annoying

Praise God the Bible isn’t a science textbook because science textbooks need to be updated, and often! The Bible may not be intended as a science textbook, but it does make scientific, historical, philosophical claims that are either true or false. The Christian worldview is unique in that it rests its authenticity upon history. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is foolish. Likewise, if Adam did not exist, sin did not happen. Unlike Eastern or New Age religions, belief systems like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam make falsifiable declarations. The writers of Scripture, over and over, indicated that they believed the doctrines they held were a direct result of God’s work in creation in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

11. St. Augustine believed that the world could be billions of years old and that Genesis does not have to be interpreted literally.

Why It Sounds Good

Augustine did believe that the days of Genesis were not necessarily literal. He believed in a view known as instantaneous creation, that God did not create over six days, but in a moment. If it can be shown that someone so influential to church theology could hold to billions of years before Darwin ever came around, this would demonstrate that billions of years is not necessarily in conflict with Christian theology. Thus, men like William Lane Craig2 and Phillip Johnson3 have both cited him as proof of reconciliation.

Why It Is Annoying

Those citing Augustine for proof of billions of years are either woefully inconsistent in their quotations of Augustine or flatly ignorant of his view. At best, this is quoting mining; at worst, it is deception. Augustine may have believed that the days do not need to be interpreted literally, but this was not on the basis of some uniformitarian principle. Summarizing Augustine’s view, James R. Mook writes, “Augustine believed that the six days of Genesis 1 are the progressive revelation of the creative activity to the angels and to those humans who cannot understand that He created everything at once.”4 While this view has its own problems, it is a far cry from interpreting the days as billions of years.

However, the most devastating point against using Augustine is his own writing that “they are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give testimony of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed.”5 Augustine may not have believed God created in six days, but he was no supporter of billions of years!

12. The issue doesn’t matter and we should just preach the gospel.

Why It Sounds Good

John 3:16 teaches that salvation depends, not upon one’s view of origins, but upon faith in the work of Jesus. Rather than focus on the issues of origins, Christians might be more productive to simply focus upon the work of Jesus.

Why It Is Annoying

This argument ignores the issues involved. While no creationist believes that YEC must be believed in order to be saved, we do believe that YEC must be true in order for salvation to be true. While evolution (in the terms of common descent and evolution as an all-encompassing theory) is not necessarily incompatible with belief in God, it is very much at odds with belief in the Christian God. This is true for at least five reasons.

First, theistic evolution attacks theology proper. If this view is correct, then God is a God who values death as a means of creation.

Second, theistic evolution attacks inerrancy. If all of life came through evolutionary change over billions of years, Genesis is wrong, for a straight-forward reading of it indicates that God created the world in six days. That these days were literal days is evidenced by the fact that each day is given a number and is accompanied by the phrase “morning and evening.” Further, Exodus 20:11 states that these were literal days.

Third, theistic evolution attacks anthropology. If mankind is an evolved primate, then he is not made in the image of God and there is nothing marking him as special or unique from any other life form.

Fourth, theistic evolution attacks Christology. In passages like Matthew 24:21, Mark 10:6, and Mark 13:9, Jesus indicated that He believed Genesis was an accurate and literal account of creation. If YEC is wrong, He was wrong and not infallible.

Fifth, theistic evolution attacks soteriology. If this view is true, death, suffering, and sin are not due to a literal fall, but to the process of natural selection, then Christ’s death was not only unnecessary, but ineffective, for He died for no reason.

Richard Dawkins writes, “Oh, but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had Himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a nonexistent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than “barking mad.”6

Echoing this idea, Frank Zindler, an American atheist, has written, “The most devastating thing though that biology did to Christianity was the discovery of biological evolution. Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed.”7

To be sure, even if all of these arguments are avoided, this does not mean YEC is correct. But, if these are the arguments upon which a person is basing his or her evolutionary beliefs, that person should not quit their day job! I encourage all those involved in the debate to dig deeper into the issues and not settle for pseudo-arguments that do not hold water. To quote Aristotle, we must “follow the argument wherever it leads!”

Notes

1 Chaffey, Tim and Lisle, Jason. Old Earth Creationism On Trial. Master Books, 2008. P. 52.

3 Johnson, Phillip. Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds. Intervarsity Press, 1997. P. 14.

4 Mortenson, Terry; Ury, Thane H. Ed. Coming To Grips With Genesis. Master Books, 2012. P. 37.

5 Augustine. The City Of God. 12.10, in NPNF1, vol. 2.

6 Dawkins, Richard. The Root Of All Evil: The Virus Of Faith. 2006.

7 Zindler, Frank; Craig, William. Atheism vs. Christianity. Video, Zondervan. 1996.

Jeriah Shank Bio


Jeriah Shank is pastor of First Baptist Church of Monroe, Iowa where he has served since 2010. Jeriah researches and writes in apologetics, science, faith and other topics and enjoys counseling at Iowa Regular Baptist Special Camp. He and his wife, Shawna, are blessed with three daughters. Jeriah blogs at The Song of the Redeemed.

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There are 5 Comments

CAWatson's picture

The phrase "in the day" in Gen 2:4 and 2:17 does not likely refer to a period of time, but is probably a colloquial expression better translated "when" (see McCabe's article on the word "days," p 117). 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

CAWatson, got any more info on that McCabe article? Link, maybe? Thanks. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Appreciate the link. As far as the argument in the article here, though, it's strong enough without Gen 2.4 and 2.17. But I think it's not weakened by the "when" sense in those two cases, either since "when"/"at that time" is still strongly chronological in the context--and has a narrow time reference ("when" makes no sense in a narrative if we try to make it mean "at some point within millions of years of that time" or the like.)

Jeriah Shank's picture

CA Watson

Thanks for your comment and thoughts. Actually, I agree with you and am just using a different terminology. When I say a period of time, I mean the same thing as when my grandfather says "Back in my day when a bottle of coke was only a nickel." When my grandpa used a sentence like that, he was talking about his time period. It is a colloquialism to refer to a different age. Genesis 2:4 is using day to signify the time period when God created the heavens and earth.So yes I agree with you and using "when" is precisely the point. 

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