The Day-Age Theory

Prior to my break, there was some discussion, in the comments to this post, about the Day-Age Theory. This refers to the idea that the “Days” in the first chapter of Genesis actually refer to very long periods of time. This is a desperation move made by Biblical literalists who are uneasy rejecting the considerable evidence in support of an ancient Earth.

During my break I started reading The Challenge of Creation: Judaism’s Encounter With Science, Cosmology, and Evolution, by Rabbi Natan Slifkin. I’m currently about half way through it, and I expect to have a great deal to say about it in the weeks to come. He includes a chapter refuting the Day-Age theory. On this issue, he speaks for me. I’ve transcribed a lengthy excerpt from this chapter below the fold.

But a substantial difficulty with any explanation that the six days are not six ordinary days is that the Torah does not only say that there were six days. Rather, the Torah also states that with each day “there was evening, and there was morning.” It is difficult to imagine how this phrase could be interpreted if this does not refer to 24-hour periods on planet Earth. One could perhaps argue that it refers to the “dusk” and “dawn” of eras. Yet the Torah describes the dawn of the era as occurring at the end of the day, not at the beginning.

A more devastating problem with these approaches is that they simply do not solve the contradictions with science. While many people are satisfied with the approach of each of the six days lasting billions of years, whether with or without an explanation of how a day can still literally be a twenty-four hour period, careful scrutiny reveals this approach to involve overwhelming problems. This is because although this approach reconciles the difference between a time span of six days and a time span of fourteen billion years, the events of those six days cannot be correlated with the scientific account of what took place during the fourteen billion years.

This problem involves two aspects. One is that some of the creations described in Genesis do not easily correlate with any known phenomena. This is the case with the description of the creations of the second day:

And God made the firmament, and He divided between the waters that were below the firmament and the waters that were above the firmament, and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.

Genesis 1:7-8

It is difficult to correlate the description of the “firmament” with any known aspects of our world. It was traditionally understood to refer to a firm covering encompassing the world, but as Malbim points out, we now know that no such covering exists. Malbim claims instead that the firmament refers to the atmosphere, and others explain it to refer to outer space. But Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out that etymologically, the word for firmament, rakia, refers to firm matter that has been flattened out into a layer. The description of the “waters above the firmament” is likewise difficult to interpret.

The second aspect of this problem is that the sequence of events described in Genesis does not correlate with the sequence discovered by science. For example, in Genesis, the earth and water are already present on the first and second days, before the creation of the luminaries, whereas the scientific picture is that they did not appear until long after the creation of the universe, and after the formation of the sun and stars. In Genesis, the sun, moon and stars are described as being created a day after plant life, whereas the scientific evidence shows that they existed billions of years before the terrestrial animals. The following chart illustrates the disparities in the sequence:


The Order of Genesis Chapter One

Day One: Heavens, earth (including water), light.
Day Two: Firmament separating waters.
Day Three: Dry land appears vegetation, fruit trees (Talmud: Plant life remained under soil until the arrival of man.)
Day Four: Creation of sun, moon and stars (Talmud: Created on the first day and set in place on the fourth.)
Day Five: Fish and aquatic life; birds, flying insects.
Day Six: Terrestrial mammals, terrestrial insects and reptiles.

The Order Given by Science

14 billion years ago: Universe begins.
4.5 billion years ago: Formation of the earth (Day One) and of the moon and sun (Day Four)
500 million years ago: First fish (Day Five)
438 m.y.a.: First land plants (Day Three)
434 m.y.a.: First terrestrial insects (Day Six)
400 m.y.a.: First flying insects (Day Five)
360 m.y.a.: First trees. (Day Three)
300 m.y.a.: First terrestrial reptiles (Day Six)
200 m.y.a.: First terrestrial mammals (Day Six)
150 m.y.a.: First Birds (Day Five)

There have been very ingenious attempts to make the content and sequence of Genesis concord with that of science, an approach known as “concordism.” Such efforts are, however, beset with serious difficulties, and do not maintain a viable interpretation of the text from an etymological, contextual and philological standpoint.

A mor egeneral objection to the current efforts at concordism, which involve the insights of twentieth-century science, is that they render the true meaning of Genesis as something only comprehensible to modern man. And yet we see that, although the Torah is binding for all generations, God presented it in a form that would be meaningful to the generation that received it. The laws of damages refer to donkeys falling in pits, not trucks ramming into cars. It is unreasonable to believe that God gave an account of Creation that mankind was completely incapable of understanding for thousands of years.

If Genesis can only be reconciled with science via obscure theories, reference to irrelevant phenomena, drastic and very difficult textual reinterpretation, and ingenious intellectual gymnastics, then it is not a very impressive scientific account. The most reasonable conclusion is that Genesis was never intended to be a scientific text to begin with, but rather something more profound instead. In the following chapters, we shall explore what that might be.

Well said, except for that last line. The most reasonable conclusion is that Genesis is nothing more than the purely human product of a pre-scientific age. But we’ll save that for a different post.

Comments

  1. #1 Clark Goble
    August 16, 2006

    To be fair though within the Jewish tradition long before the rise of modernism there were thinkers arguing for not only long dispensations but even pre-Adamites. One can find these views in certain strains of Kabbalism, for instance. So to say this is sort of just an apologetic move to try and reconcile to science isn’t necessarily true.

  2. #2 Guitar Eddier
    August 16, 2006

    “At that time in presence of the Buddha there was a tower adorned with seven treasures, five hundred yojanas in height and two hundred and fifty yojanas in width and depth, that rose out of the earth and stood suspended in the air.” (Lotus Sutra, Chapter 11)

    Before I ask anything, a yojana is the distance the royal Indian army could march in a day. This works out to the radius of the earth in height and half that in width and depth.

    To any Christian literalist reading this, would you be able to find a empirical way of explaining this event as described in the Lotus Sutra?

    GE

  3. #3 J.G. Fellow
    August 16, 2006

    Rather than viewing this theory as a desperate move on the part of literalists to make the Bible stay within their understanding of physics, I tend to look at this as a move on the part of Rabbis to allow their scientifically rigorous congregants to enjoy the Bible poetically. After all, if you want your congregants to “Not Kill,” you may find it helps if they don’t close the Good Book after 1 chapter.

    Cheers,
    J. G.

  4. #4 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    First of all, I’d like to repeat an accusation: The reason that anti-theists claim that (a) 99% of the time the YECs are disingenuous, fundamentalist, trailer-park bumpkins with three rows of buck teeth, however (b) when it comes to Genesis One (and only Genesis One) they are exegetical geniuses with the only reasonable interpretation in all of Christendom, is that it greatly simplifies your goal of demonstrating that the bible is inconsistent with science. Since the YEC version of Genesis is trivially false, you support their interpretation solely for the purpose of creating an easy target. In this regard you view them as “useful idiots.”

    To be honest, I don’t completely understand the dynamic, because it is not trivial. On the one hand, it would be helpful, it seems, for you to argue: “see some scientists believe that the earth is old, that the fossil record is accurate, and that this science is perfectly consistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis.” However, the weird calculus involved here always seems to favor that any alliance with biblical inerrantists, no matter how politically expedient, is just too unsavory.

    Still, I am amused that you would simply repeat the same-old same-old charges against the day-age theory as if they were new insights–are we expected to pause, astonished at Rabbi Slifkin’s criticisms, and say “Oh gosh, I never thought of that! How could I have missed that! He-he, I guess I should have actually read Genesis One! My bad!”

    And he makes his case badly, if you have reported it accurately. For example, the mention the firmament is “traditionally understood to refer to a firm covering encompassing the world.” I know of no day-ager that makes such a claim. Every day-age variant that I am aware of places the creation of the universe, the stars, the galaxies, the earth, the moon, and the oceans squarely on “day” one.

  5. #5 Fred
    August 16, 2006

    David,
    It doesn’t matter if these are new insights or not. The point is, neither you nor anyone else has given a reasonable defense of them, nor shown any proof that the Bible is inerrant or even “mostly right.”

    It’s like you’re involved in a car accident and the other person says “I was stopped at the light and he smashed his blue station wagon right into me,” and you reply with “it’s not blue, it’s green.”

  6. #6 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    Fred,

    The point is, neither you nor anyone else has given a reasonable defense of them.

    That, of course, is a matter of opinion. The day-age theory has provided answers to these criticisms–you can read those explanations and argue that they are weak–but that’s about the extent of it.

    Similarly, I could make the roughly intellectually-equivalent argument: “what good is half an eye?” and claim with an air of certainty that nobody has given a reasonable explanation to that question. My repeating that silly criticism that has been made and addressed a gazillion times is analogous to repeating the order of Genesis One and shouting: “go ahead day age theory, explain that!”

  7. #7 SLC
    August 16, 2006

    Re Heddle.

    When are you going to explain how Joshua made the sun stand still? Thats a scientific statement made in the Hebrew bible which is total nonsense and violates all the laws of physics.

  8. #8 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    SLC:

    When are you going to explain how Joshua made the sun stand still? Thats a scientific statement made in the Hebrew bible which is total nonsense and violates all the laws of physics.

    Oh rats–that’s just not really playing fair, bringing up one of them-there blasted miracle thingys–those are, like, so hard to explain with science. It really is our Achilles heel.

    I know that some unsophisticated believers argue that (1) by definition God is supernatural and (2) that entitles him to perform supernatural acts on occasion and (3) those supernatural acts are called miracles by some and (4) being supernatural they are, again by definition, outside the purview of science.

    But as for me, never! I know that would be a copout! Because then, after all, I could explain ANYTHING as a miracle!

    So please, I beg you, don’t bring those things up–it is so demoralizing. I know they’re just parlor tricks that someday science will explain, but we are just not there yet.

    Although that walking on water stunt–well I almost have something worked out in terms of a rare freezing of the Sea of Galilee. After all, this was before global warming.

  9. #9 Fred
    August 16, 2006

    David,
    You ask “what good is half an eye.” That’s a VERY simple one to answer: It’s EXTREMELY good. In fact, there are a great many species alive today that make very good use of what might be called “half an eye.” Dogs don’t see color like we do. Deep-ocean fish have eyes that can only sense light but could certainly not read an eye chart, etc. A half developed eye is still useful. And that’s not just a matter of opinion, it’s a fact, as the half-eyed animals around the world prove every day.

    Or think of it this way: Let’s say that in 5000 years our eyes evolve to have the ability to do some additional extraordinary thing, like being heat sensitive. People will be so used to that that they’d look back at us and not be able to comprehend how we could survive with what, to them, is the equivalent of only half an eye. In other words, evolution isn’t *finished.* We’re not the *end result* of evolution, we’re just a chapter. In the future, beings will chuckle at our primitiveness.

  10. #10 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    You are missing the boat Fred–I don’t believe that “what good is half an eye” is a sensible question–I’m pointing out that the rebuttal “nobody has given a reasonable defense” can be used in any argument, and it is as weak if someone uses it in the context of the evolution debate as when you used it to summarily settle the day-age debate.

  11. #11 SLC
    August 16, 2006

    Re. Heddle

    Hey pally, you’re the one who claims that the bible doesn’t contradict science. If you think that a scientific explanation for the sun standing still will arrive at sometime in the future,I’ve got a nice bridge I’d like to sell you. It was just completed over the Potomac river connecting Alexandria, Va. with Indian Head, Md. It’s brand new, just opened a month ago. You can have it for the bargain price of $1,000,000.

  12. #12 Fred
    August 16, 2006

    David,
    You’re skirting the issue. I said that no one on your side has given a reasonable defense. The question of whether scientists do the same thing is completely irrelevant. If I ask you to explain something, it doesn’t matter whether scientists can or not– I’m not asking THEM, I’m asking YOU.

    For the record, as I illustrated in my answer about eyes, science *does* give reasonable answers, but whether science does or not, that doesn’t excuse *you.*

    If you want to prove something, you have to, well, prove it. Proving someone else wrong doesn’t prove you right.

  13. #13 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 16, 2006

    David-

    I’m very disappointed by your reply. I disagree with you about many things, but for all of that I have generally enjoyed our exchanges in the past. But here you have chosen to reply solely with sneers and ad hominems.

    You begin by attributing to me views I do not hold and have never expressed. First, I am an atheist, not an anti-theist. It is my view that people who believe in God are mistaken on a question of fact. I do not believe that God-belief by itself is necessarily a bad thing. You then say that I think that YEC’s are fundamentalist, trailer-park bumpkins etc. Actually, I believe that on scientific issues they are very confused, and that many of their leaders are terribly dishonest. But I find their Biblical exegesis consistently more convincing than many of their critics.

    In fact, given your snideness and your willingness to deride their view as trivially false, I’d say you’re the one who views them as bumpkins.

    It’s not as if the young-Earth interpretation is some fringe view within Christianity. Last I heard, it was something like 46% of Americans generally that accept it. And there’s certainly no shortage of preachers teaching it from their pulpits. And as Rabbi Slifkin points out in his book, even within orthodox Judaism there is a long history of support of the young-Earth view that persists to this day. If I am mistaken in finding it the most reasonable interpretation of Genesis One, it is nonetheless a mistake a lot of honest seekers have made.

    Finally, while you may find it convenient to attack my motives instead of my arguments, you certainly can’t accuse Rabbi Slifkin of wanting to make Bible believers seem foolish.

    Your second paragraph I don’t understand at all. I believe that a simple interpretation of the text of Genesis is utterly incompatible with the discoveries that science has made over the years. I also find the various attempts, such as the Day-Age theory, to make the text mean something other than what it plainly says to be unconvincing. This is one reason why I reject the idea that the Bible is the holy and inerrant word of God. You seem to be criticizing me for simply stating my opinions rather than doing the politically expedient thing. Was that your intent?

    I never presented the Rabbi’s views as fresh insights. I presented them as a cogent rebuttal to the Day-Age theory. I found it interesting that shortly after our brief discussion of this issue in the previous post, I happened to read a book by a Rabbi who made precisely the same arguments I had made. So I posted them at my blog. This isn’t complicated.

    I have no doubt that you have answers to the Rabbi’s objections, just as the young-Earthers have answers to your criticisms of their view. I say only that I find the Rabbi’s arguments persuasive.

    As for your final paragraph, it’s nice that you believe that so much occurred on Day One. The fact remains, however, that the text does not support your assertion. It is you, not I, who is torturing the text to make it say what you want it to say.

  14. #14 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    Jason,

    What you wrote does not back up your claims–it is essentially the same as Fred’s response: The day age view is wrong, period, end of story. Unless I have missed it, you offer no actual arguments from the day-age view for the Genesis account. You simply declare that whatever they are, they’re wrong. You have not, for example, said, which I would expect for a serious critique, that “OK, the day age view places the creation of the sun and moon in day one, so let’s look at how it explains day four, where the the creation of the sun and moon are traditionally placed.”

    Just saying: “here is someone who thinks this view is wrong, and I agree with him” is not very productive.

    The fact that Slifkin makes such serious misrepresentations of the day-age view, if you are reporting accurately–such as arguing like a third grader along the lines of “how could there be plants for millions of years before the sun” should have given someone as smart as you reason to pause–you should have said to yourself–while I don’t believe the day age interpretation has any merit, they couldn’t possibly be that dumb.

  15. #15 Jim Wynne
    August 16, 2006

    Heddle:

    What’s your point? Some, nay many YECs are ignorant hicks, and some are savvy promoters who take advantage of them.

    There’s no credible support anywhere for any part of the bible being inspired by an invisible being. There’s also no point in trying to enter into rational discussion on the issue if, when challenged, you can invoke supernatural explanations without admitting that your intellect has been abdicated, at least temporarily. Your Hairy Thunderer is no more potent, intellectually, than any of the many parodies of Him.

  16. #16 David Heddle
    August 16, 2006

    Jim,

    It’s hard to argue with such logic.

  17. #17 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 16, 2006

    David-

    Have you lost your mind? The Day-Age view says that the days in Genesis are meant not as 24 hour time periods but rather as long periods of time. So Slifkin begins by explaining why that is not a reasonable interpretation of the text. He also points out that accepting the concordist approach in general, and the Day-Age view in particular, imply that the Torah can only be properly understood by people with an understanding of modern science. Those are arguments.

    He then goes on to show that even if you interpret the days as arbitrary periods of time, you still have the problem that the sequence of events described in Genesis contradicts at almost every turn the account given by science. And, yes, I do wonder how there could be plants for millions of years before the creation of the Sun.

    What has Slifkin misrepresented? He does not deny that Day-Agers can come up with textutal reinterpretations to try to reconcile the numerous contradictions between the Genesis sequence and science. He simply argues that it is not reasonable to behave in such a way.

    As for what Day-Agers are dumb enough to believe, I would simply point out that you are the one who described as trivially false one of the dominant views in Biblical exegesis. I don’t see you extending the same respect to others that you expect for yourself.

    It’s not as if the text of Genesis is some impenetrable cipher that requres years of technical training to understand. It’s plain meaning is very clear. It does not support your interpretation. You are welcome to offer whatever counterarguments you wish to that simple fact. I am not optimistic that you will do so, however.

  18. #18 kevin
    August 16, 2006

    So Jim WINS!!!

    yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The FSM has no problem with the age of the earth because he/she/it can and does manipulate our senses in real-time.

    that leads directly to the question:

    Does the Jewish god adopted by the xians have a gender? Is it actually male? and does it have sex? with whom? if god has no one to have sex with does he masterbate?

    these are the issues that we should be discussing not how long a day is. .. the answer to that is however long the FSM wants a day to appear…..

  19. #19 Jim Wynne
    August 16, 2006

    It’s a simple matter of courage and faith, Heddle. The whole body of “knowledge” in Christian apologetics is dependent on attempts to rationalize that which can’t be rationalized, all the while pretending to be engaged in intellectualism. Nonetheless, I must admit that I find the pseudo-intellectualism of apologetics most entertaining, especially as it’s practiced by its most intelligent proponents. It always reminds me of this famous cartoon.

  20. #20 Billy
    August 17, 2006

    “The most reasonable conclusion is that Genesis was never intended to be a scientific text to begin with, but rather something more profound instead.”

    A more reasonable conclusion, I think, is that it was intended to be a scientific text, but has since been proven wrong.

    From the Anchor Bible commentary on Genesis by E.A. Speiser:
    “Derivation from Mesopotamia in this instance means no more and no less than that on the subject of creation biblical tradition aligned itself with the traditional tenets of Babylonian ‘science.’ The reasons should not be far to seek. For one thing, Mesopotamia’s achievements in that field were highly advanced, respected, and influential.” (p. 11)

    I remember taking a history course about twenty years ago in which the instructor said that Genesis 1 was written during or after the Babylonian captivity as an effort to defend the Hebrew faith from the apparently superior Babylonian “science.” He made such an excellent case that I was later disappointed to learn that the dating of Genesis 1 is very much in doubt.

    Still, as far as I can tell, there isn’t much doubt is that the author(s) adapted it from some other tradition, probably Babylonian. It also seems to me that it is very much intended to be (among other things) a “scientific” account of creation.

    Ironically (or maybe predictably), the author(s) of Genesis 1 probably wanted to show that their traditional faith could be rigorously defended in the face of a modern and antagonistic science. Twenty-five hundred years later look where it got ‘em.

    There’s probably a lesson in that somewhere.

  21. #21 John Doyle
    August 17, 2006

    Regarding the “firmament,” the Hebrew can be translated as something like “expanse.” Note that in v.8 God calls the expanse heaven. Note also that in v.20 the birds fly in the open expanse of the heavens. The writer places the sun, moon and stars in this same open expanse above the earth that the birds also occupy — not on some fixed concave surface above the sky. To me the Gen. 1 firmament sounds pretty modern. Translating the word as “firmament” was a concession to the prevailing medieval Aristotelian cosmology. I suppose the mistranslation could be regarded as an object lesson to those who prematurely try to reconcile Scriptural revelation with the prevailing scientific orthodoxy.

    As to the mixed-up sequence of creation — trees before the sun, etc. — the ancients were aware of this problem as well. Some tried to reinterpret “day” as something like a logical category. Since God lives in eternity (said the Greek-influenced theologians), what do sequential days mean to him anyhow? Augustine and Aquinas were pretty well convinced that God created the universe not in 6 days, not in 6 eons, but in an instant. I guess the nature of the Gen 1 interpretive dilemma changes every millennium or so.

    If you’ll indulge me, I’ve recently conducted a detailed literal exegesis of Genesis 1 that departs fairly radically and paradoxically from the leading interpretations. Briefly, I conclude that God spends 6 days inventing natural science and explaining it to a primitive human witness. I think if you click on my name at the bottom of this comment it’ll take you to a blog where I’ve posted the whole exegesis. It’s a long sequential discussion, but you can click on the Summary Page to get the quick overview.

  22. #22 David Heddle
    August 17, 2006

    Jason,

    Slifkin’s view, as you present is that the only difference between the day-age view and the YEC view is that the days are of indeterminate length. Maybe he presents a more sophisticated and accurate representation of the day-age view, but I can’t tell from your post.

    And a simplistic representation of the day-age view wherein the only substantive difference with YEC creation is that the days are long is, well, overly simplistic to the point of being useless.

    As for the YEC view being trivially wrong–it is from science. Furthermore, anyone reading this blog would understand what I meant: there are overwhelming geological, radiological, astrophysical, cosmological, and astronomical data supporting an old universe. There is really no need for me to single out that it is their insistence on the young earth, which by the way I don’t misrepresent, that I am talking about when I say that the YEC view is trivially wrong.

    Maybe the day-age view is also trivially wrong, but you haven’t done anything except tell us that it is–and since, unlike YEC, its substantive arguments are not common knowledge (as evidenced by the fact that Slifkin doesn’t seem to know them) the onus on you is to give at least some minimal and accurate representation of what you are dismissing out of hand.

    You, however, have not represented any actual day-age argument beyond “the days are long.” For example, day-agers do not think there was life for millions of years before there was a sun, but your criticism, via the Slikin excerpt, goes no farther than listing the ordering from Genesis One.

    Again, if the extent of the criticism is the ordering along with the argument: see this couldn’t have happened before that, then you can pat yourself on the back for a convincing proof, but all you have refuted is a caricature of the day-age view.

    From some of your readers, that is what I’d expect. From you, I expected more.

    Anyway, this is the “it’s your blog, you get the last word.” point. Today, I’m off to Vermont for a little R&R.

  23. #23 David Heddle
    August 17, 2006

    One more, hopefully non-caustic comment while I am waiting for the toast.

    In my opinion, if you are going to criticize (or defend) the day-age view, it should be done in three distinct stages:

    1) The question of consistency between Genesis One and Two should be examined, stand-alone. If the first two chapters of Genesis are inconsistent, then both the day-age and the YEC view come tumbling down.

    2) Is the day-age view even consistent with the Hebrew? Are “yom usued ordinally”, and/or “there was evening and there was morning” substantive arguments? If so, the day-age view is dead before you get to the science.

    3) Is the day-age view consistent with science? Here you must (I think) allow some latitude from simply demanding a hyper-literal hermeneutic. For example, if sea animals are mentioned before land animals, it does not mean all sea-borne species existed before all landlubbers. It means animal life in the oceans came first.

    In my experience, people tend to juxtapose all these questions, making for a confusing argument.

  24. #24 mark
    August 17, 2006

    Someone I know proposed to write an article on this topic for a right-wing fundie outlet. He thought he had a novel idea–that the scale of time for God differs from the scale of time for man, thus the confusion between “days” and eons. By distinguishing man-days and God-days he thought to avoid the interpretation of “days” as metaphor. My comment to him was that if he believes the Bible is the word of God, it was nevertheless written for man, so why would it not be clear the terminology meant “man-days”?
    (But the outlet did not publish this article anyway, probably because the group insists on a literal interpretation of 6 24-hour days.)

  25. #25 Jim Wynne
    August 17, 2006

    Shorter, edited Heddle:

    One more, hopefully non-caustic comment…making for a confusing argument.

  26. #26 Paul Merda
    August 18, 2006

    The way I see it is that if the bible is the literal, inerrant word of god there would be NO need for aplogetics. Everyone who read it would get the same idea about it. It would be unambiguous, if true.

    “Every sect is a certificate that god has not plainly revealed his will to mankind. To each reader the bible conveys a different meaning.” – Col. Robert Ingersoll

  27. #27 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 18, 2006

    David-

    Your reply makes little sense. It is now clear that Slifkin did not misrepresent anything. You’re only sore that he didn’t give adequate treatment to the various kluges Day-Agers come up with to deny the obvious: that the sequence of events outlined in Genesis One conflicts at almost every turn with what we learn from science.

    Slifkin’s chapter comes in a section of the book dealing specifically with the issue of the age of the Earth. So naturally he focussed on the interpretation of the days in Genesis as representing arbitrary periods of time as the centerpiece of the Day-Age approach. Nowhere does he say that distinction is the sum total of Day-Age theorizing.

    You then say the YEC view is “trivially wrong” because it conflicts with science. But in case you missed it, this is a debate about Biblical exegesis. You don’t get to say that modern science contradicts a particular interpretation, so that interpretation must be wrong. Whoever wrote the texts in Genesis had something in mind. The goal is to come to the best conclusion we can about what that something was. That the writers intended twnety-four hour days and a Young-Earth is the one best supported both by the text and by what people of the day probably believed about the world. That explains why the young-Earth view was dominant for so long, and remains a major view to this day. As I said before, it’s not as if I’m elevating some fringe position to mainstream status for the purpose of discrediting the Bible.

    You next repeat your whine that Slifkin offers no arguments against the Day-Age view, despite my spelling out for you those arguments twice already. Prior to the excerpt I cited, he does discuss some textual reasons for considering something other than 24 hour days. But then he explains, in the excerpt, why he finds them implausible. I have no doubt you have answers to Slifkin’s criticisms (though you have inexplicably chosen not to offer them, preferring instead to hurl a lot of poorly reasoned invective). However, I doubt severely whether your answers rise above laughable.

    Next, Slfkin does not attribute to Day Agers the view that life existed for millions of years before the Sun. He says only that the ordering in Genesis One implies that plants came before the Sun, when science tells us the reverse is true. Since plants are clearly created on Day Three, while the “greater light to rule the day” is created on Day Four, I’d say he’s on solid ground for making that claim.

    As for what you expect from me, I would only say that you have behaved in precisely the manner I’ve come to expect from you. Your various writings about Genesis and the Bible have shown a preference for making the Bible say what you wish it said, rather than dealing seriously with what it actually says. Likewise, your comments in this thread have little connection to anything I actually posted.

  28. #28 Fred
    August 18, 2006

    If we have to interpret and contort the words of the Bible to understand what it’s really saying, what does “Thou shalt not kill” really mean?

  29. #29 Jim Wynne
    August 19, 2006

    Jason wrote:

    Your various writings about Genesis and the Bible have shown a preference for making the Bible say what you wish it said, rather than dealing seriously with what it actually says.

    …thereby providing a succinct and articulate definition of Christian apologetics.

  30. #30 Robert O'Brien
    August 19, 2006

    I was reading Philo last night and I came across this:

    (19) Why the creation of animals and flying creatures is mentioned a second time, when the account of their creation had already been given in the history of the six days? (#Ge 2:19). Perhaps those things which were created in the six days were incorporeal angels, indicated under these symbolical expressions, being the appearances of terrestrial and flying animals, but now they were produced in reality, being the copies of what had been created before, images perceptible by the outward senses of invisible models.

    I do not accept Philo’s exegesis but I thought it might be of interest to the participants in this thread.

  31. #31 Steve G
    August 22, 2006

    The concordist perspective is actually derived from the perspective of biblical infallibility, meaning that the Bible is *required* to be interpreted in such a way that it matches what we learn through modern science and archaeology. In other words, it is circular. And – ironically – the young earth creationist perspective, which is also based on biblical infallibility, is circular *in reverse* in that science and archaeology is *required* to be intepreted/mangled/ignored in such a way that it matches more traditional interpretations of the Bible.

    Incidentally, liberal Christians tend to interpret the creation story figuratively. One example of this approach is what’s called the “Framework Hypothesis” interpretation.

  32. #32 Zach
    October 9, 2006

    Evolution will continue to be argued based on scientific findings. However, the story of creation found in Genesis can be interpreted in various ways depending on a person’s beliefs and their religious denomination.

  33. #33 Jeff
    October 10, 2006

    If the theory of evolution is true and the Bible is not then what are we to live for in this life. Is there any reason to show love and compassion to others? Should we just go on with sinful human nature and expect to find fullfilment? In today’s society everyone is trying to remove God and the Bible from everyday life to achieve what, “political corectness”?
    This is in no way trying to persuade the reader to convert from whatever religion he or she is but it is puting forth the effort to show people that the BIble is indeed a religious book but it is also a book of history and teachings of how to live and most importantly how life began.

  34. #34 Uber
    October 10, 2006

    Is there any reason to show love and compassion to others? Should we just go on with sinful human nature and expect to find fullfilment?

    Are you that freaking morally vacant and stupid that if your belief proves unfounded you will stop loving and caring about those you love?

    You don’t have a sinful nature. You have a nature. You find fullfillment in a variety of ways and it varies from individual to individual.

  35. #35 Brandon
    December 1, 2011

    I am a Christian, I believe in a six day creation of the universe and everything in it. I believe the Bible is truth and inspired by the one all-knowing, all-powerful God.

    If God really exists, and He is the creator of time, and is not limited by the boundaries of time, what is the point in debating science vs. God? You can never prove supernatural with natural.

    Here is the question:
    If an athiest believes that God does not exist, then He believes the universe came from nothing. On the other hand, there is creationism, no matter what form (not necessarily God but a creator), believes that someone divine created the universe. In this more simple debate creation wins. neither one will ever be proved with concrete evidence, but it stands that something will NEVER come from nothing.

  36. #36 NJ
    December 1, 2011

    Brandon @ 35:

    it stands that something will NEVER come from nothing

    Very well. Explain where God came from. Unless you are prepared to state that God isn’t something…

    To be a YEC, as you claim to be, means you have to reject virtually every observation of the natural universe over the last several hundred years and engage in a massive protective rationalization to shield your beliefs from reality.

    The professional creationists do this because they have realized that there’s gold in them thar rubes, but the rank-and-file (like you, I infer) just accept their bogus arguments without serious consideration.

    If you want to have a serious discussion about the topics, try posting again on a recent thread, not one five years moribund. If you’re just a run of the mill drive-by, well, consider that your utter ignorance is now a worldwide feature.

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