Justification of a Personal Point of View

In the age-old debate of the conflicts between science and Scripture, the most conscientious Christian position seems to be the one that accepts the validity of God's revelation through nature (the realm of scientific investigation), as well as God's special revelation through the Bible (the realm of theological interpretation). Both of these avenues of God's revelation should lead one into a "consistent" though incomplete understanding of the Creation and the Creator. The scientific enterprise, despite its theory-laden nature, has the methodological element that enables one to perceive God's general revelation regardless of the scientist's presuppositions.

Apparent conflicts that have arisen between science and the Bible can be attributed to a misinterpretation of either scientific data or biblical data. The Bible is not a textbook of science. The cultural backgrounds of biblical writers have to be considered in the interpretation of descriptive accounts such as Genesis.

The writers of the Bible conveyed to their contemporaries the message of God, and their only way was to use the languages and customs of their time. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect Moses to describe creation in twentieth-century scientific language. Nonetheless, the Genesis account is historical, depicting what actually transpired in history. This is clearly evident in the eleven tablets, each ending with "These are the names [generations, decendants] of. . ." found in the first 36 chapters of Genesis. The contents are linked together to form a roughly chronological account of primeval and partriarchal life (i.e., Gen. 1:1-2:4; 2:5-5:2; 5:36:9a; 6:9b-10:1; 10:2-11:10a; 11:1Ob-27a; 11:27b-25:12; 25:13-19a; 25:19b-36:1; 36:2-36:9; and 36:10-37:2) (1, 2). The New Testament also [252] regards certain events mentioned in Genesis 1 as actually having taken place (e.g., see Mark 10:6; 1 Cor. 11:8-9).

7.1 The Hurdles

In the attempts to harmonize the Genesis account and scientific evidence supporting the theory of evolution without debasing one category at the expense of the other, there are quite a few hurdles to overcome because of the incompleteness of scientific as well as theological data. The hurdles that progressive creationists encounter seem to be far fewer and less insurmountable than those faced by fiat creationists and theistic evolutionists. If the fiat creationists have exalted a particular interpretation of the Bible at the expense of the objectivity of science, the theistic evolutionists have conceded important theological grounds to the liberals and atheists in allegorizing the Creation and the Fall of humans.

7.1.1 Fiat Creationists and the Earth's Age. The major hurdle facing the fiat creationists is the antiquity of the earth. Since the dominant neo-Darwinian view of evolution requires a vast amount of time, fiat creationists maintain that the acceptance of the ancient-earth concept opens the door to atheistic evolution. They adopt essentially the chronology worked out by Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656) and Dr. John Lightfoot who fixed the date of creation at 4000 B.C. (3) based on the naive assumption that the biblical genealogies were intended to be used for chronology. This is the young-earth theory. Therefore, fiat creationists ignore much of the dating information on the antiquity of the earth that is discussed in an earlier section (I.2.1).

Fiat creationists reject the principle of uniformitarianism and all of the dating methods pertaining to the antiquity of the earth in favor of the universal cataclysm (4). However, they have yet to come up with enough data to support their theory in light of the lack of visible evidence of the universal Deluge and the intriguing patterns of biogeography (see I.2.4). They also overlook the vast amount of data supporting the observable microevolutionary processes in nature and the laboratory. The refusal to be open-minded to scientific inquiry because of the espousal of a particular interpretation of the Bible seems to be more conducive to the continuation of the medieval mentality with its obscurant attitude than to the defense of absolute biblical truth (5).

7.1.2. Theistic Evolutionists and Creation. If man is a product of the chance events of natural selection, theistic evolutionists have the problem of convincing the secular world of the biblical basis of humans as created in the image of God and of the first sin. The figurative interpretation of the Genesis account of creation seems to weaken these two fundamental [253] doctrines of the Christian faith. By denying the historicity of the first Adam, this position also invites skepticism for the meaning of the cross of Christ, the second Adam (Rom. 5:12-21), as a historical event and thus endangers the whole structure of the Christian message (6, 7).

The materials in Genesis 1:1 to 2:4 are formal and arranged in balanced structure with recurring formal phrases. This led some theistic evolutionists to treat the formal structures as "poetic." However, this interpretation is untenable for two reasons. First, the creation account in Genesis 1:1 to 2:4 bears no resemblance to any known form of poetic arrangement. Second, the account has nothing of the emotional tone of poetry. The abundance of Hebrew poetry in biblical and extrabiblical Semitic literature provides no comparison with the Genesis account and thus does not lend itself to the support of the poetical interpretation of this passage (7). The commandment to honor the Sabbath day is rooted in the sequential events of the creation week (Exod. 20:8-11). A figurative interpretation would provide no factual basis for this commandment, and thus, it would be untenable (8).

The creation of Eve (Gen. 2:21-22) also constitutes an enigma for the theistic evolutionists who accept the naturalistic explanation of humanity as being genetically derived from a nonhuman ancestor. Furthermore, in Genesis 2:7 it is stated that "the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being" (NIV). Although the process of formation is not specified, it seems to convey the thought of "special creation" from inorganic material rather than "derived creation" through some previously living form.

The Hebrew word for "living being" in Genesis 2:7 (NIV), nephesh, is the same as the words translated "living creatures" or "living and moving thing" in Genesis 1:20-21, 24. The same word nephesh is used in the translation of "living being" (Gen. 2:7). The difference between humans and beasts is that humans were created in God's image whereas the beasts were not. Therefore, Genesis 2:7 seems to imply that humans became living beings just as other beasts. The interpretation that humans are derived from a preexisting living being is entirely inappropriate in light of this consideration. Of course, to go so far as to imply that God, who is a Spirit, has a mouth or nose that can breathe the breath of life is to ignore the common Scriptural metaphor symbolizing spiritual activities by the act of breathing (Ps. 33:6; John 20:22; 3:8). The breath of God in Genesis 2:7 can be easily taken to symbolize the special spiritual creative activities whereby a human was made a living being without overworking the metaphoric use of the word (7). [254]

Theistic evolutionists also give too much credence to the as yet poorly formulated theory of organic evolution. In their efforts to reconcile the naturalistic and theistic approaches to the origin of life, they have inadvertantly got themselves into the inconsistent position of denying the miracles of creation while maintaining the supernatural nature of the Christian message. The overworking of the multilevel structure of reality according to Bube's dictim (i.e., there are many levels at which a given situation can be described. An exhaustive description on one level does not preclude meaningful descriptions on other levels [9]) seems to run the danger of compartmentalizing reality into spiritual and physical realms that are independent of each other. This dualistic connotation seems to be implicit in the theistic evolutionist position of the human being, with a body that is a product of naturalistic evolution and a spiritual capacity that is given by God in a supernatural act.

7.1.3 Progressive Creationists' View of the Earth's Age and Creation. Progressive creationists seem to be able to keep an open mind scientifically and yet maintain the integrity of the Genesis account. The definition of progressive creationism is given clearly by Ramm as follows (10):

In Gen. 1 the [fundamental] pattern [of creation] is a "development" from vacancy (Gen. 1:2) to the finished creation at the end of the sixth day. In "manufacturing," the pattern is from raw materials to finished product. In "art" the pattern is from unformed materials to artistic creation. In "life" the pattern is from the undifferentiated ovum to the adult. In "character" the pattern is from random and uncritical behavior to disciplined and moral behavior.
Let us analyze the progressive creationists' perspective in the treatments of the antiquity of the earth and the creation account in light of the findings of modern science.

The progressive creationists' view fits nicely with the well-documented estimate of the age of the earth and the universe as being more than four billion years. They maintain the infallibility of the Bible but find ample room for the reinterpretation of the length of the creation days of Genesis 1 and the genealogies of the Bible. Some say the progressive creationists fall into the trap of letting science pass judgment on the Scriptures (11). However, it can be seen from the following discussion that, aside from external evidence of present-day scientific determination of age, there is adequate exegetical data to demonstrate that the days of Genesis 1 can be considered long indefinite periods of time, and the genealogies of the Bible were not intended and cannot be used for the construction of an accurate chronology.

a) How long were the creation days in Genesis 1? The purpose of the [255] six-day account of creation seems to be to show how God changed the uninhabitable and unformed earth into a well-ordered world (12). The late Dr. James O. Buswell, II, theologian and third president of Wheaton College, has written a concise article on "The Length of the Creative Days," which is reprinted in the appendix, pp. 299-311. He argues that Moses used the word yom (day) in many ways in addition to its normal usage of a solar day. Day can be taken to mean a period of time of undesignated length (Gen. 2:4; Ps. 90:1-4) and periods of light as contrasted with darkness (Gen. 1:5). The sun's visible function of defining days and years did not begin until the fourth day, when the sun was revealed. Therefore, the first four days were definitely not 24-hour solar days as we have.

The citation of the fourth commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exod. 20:8-11), to argue against the day-age interpretation is not necessarily valid because the argument is based on analogy but not identity (13). The substance of the keeping of the Sabbath is that people must work six days and rest one day, for God also worked in six creative periods and rested on the seventh.

The establishment of a Sabbath year (Exod. 23:10-11; Lev. 25:3-7) and a jubilee Sabbath (Lev. 25:8-17) also suggests that the emphasis on the Sabbath is rest instead of the strict interpretation of "day." The phrase "and there was evening, and there was morning" that is found at the end of every creation narrative in Genesis 1 has been used to argue for the literal 24-hour interpretation of "day." However, since the word "day" can be interpreted as a period longer than 24 hours, the components of the day, "evening" and "morning," can also be interpreted figuratively (12) (see Ps. 90:5-6). Moreover, the evening and the morning make a night, not a day, if one wants to press the literal interpretation of these two items.

R. J. Snow has also made several observations on the length of the sixth day (14). As illuminated from the account in Genesis 2, several events transpired on day six: (1) God "formed" man from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7 NIV). (2) God "planted" a garden (Gen. 2:8a NIV). (3) God "put" man in the garden (Gen. 2:8b). (4) God said "I will make" a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18b). (5) God brought all the beasts of the field and the birds in the air to the man for naming (Gen. 2:19-20). (6) The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Gen. 2:21). (7) God took the rib from the man and "made" (or "built") a woman (Gen. 2:22 NIV). All these events involved a considerable amount of time.

Although God used supernatural processes to complete all the remarkable acts mentioned above, the words "formed," "planted," "put," "I will [256] make," and "made" seem to suggest a certain amount of elapsed time. The naming of all the beasts and birds would take Adam a good deal of time even considering that the land animals were less numerous than the varieties observed today. In addition, Adam's deep sleep during God's "operation" suggests a prolonged period of time.

The most important time consideration seems to be the term happa`am translated in Genesis 2:23 as "at last" (RSV) or "now" (NIV, NASB) in Adam's exclamation as he showed appreciation of the woman whom God had made. The word happa`am seems to imply that Adam had waited for a long time for a mate, and finally his desire was satisfied. This interpretation is borne out by several passages in Genesis and other places in the Old Testament (Gen. 29:34-35; 30:20; 46:30; Exod. 9:27; Judg. 15:3; 16:18) where happa`am has been translated "now," "this time," or "this once" ("once more" NIV) in the Revised Standard and King James versions. These examples were used in the contexts of periods of elapsed time. Although the length of time that elapsed between God's bringing the animals before Adam to be named until Adam awoke from his deep sleep to see Eve was not specified, it seems more reasonable that Adam had developed loneliness after tending the Garden of Eden for a period of time until he found comfort in Eve. Thus it seems exegetically unwarranted to restrict the interpretation of the sixth day as a literal 24-hour solar day.

b) Genealogies of the Bible. Dr. W. H. Green, late professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and a contributor to the famous Fundamentals papers, has succinctly analyzed the genealogies of the Bible. He concluded that they were not intended and cannot be legitimately used to construct a chronology (15). His conclusions have been collaborated by other biblical scholars (16, 17). The arguments against the chronological treatment of the biblical genealogies can be summarized in the following three points:

1. Abridgment and omission of unimportant names is the pattern in the genealogies of the Bible. There are numerous examples of this observation. One prime example is the omissions in the genealogies of the Lord Jesus. In Matthew 1:8 Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:25), Joash (2 Kings 7:1), and Amaziah (2 Kings 23:34; 1 Chron. 3:16) are dropped between Joram and Ozias (or Uzziah). In Matthew 1:1 the entire genealogy of Jesus is summed up in two steps, "Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham." A comparison of 1 Chronicles 6:3-14 and Ezra 7:1-5 also reveals that six consecutive names in the genealogy of Ezra were omitted in the book that bears his name. The genealogy in Exodus 6:16-25 makes Moses the great-grandson of Levi though 430 years intervened (Exod. 12:40). It is, [257] therefore, evident that many names have been omitted from Moses' genealogy.

Another convincing proof is found in Numbers 3:19, 27-28. Four sons of Kohath, or grandsons of Levi, appear respectively to give rise to the families of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites. The number of males in these families one month and upward was 8600 only one year after the Exodus. It is inconceivable to assume that the father of Moses had given birth to 8600 descendants of the male sex alone, and 2750 of them were between the ages of 30 and 50 (Num. 4:36).

2. Genealogies include significant names Biblical writers did not have chronology in mind when they wrote the genealogies. The genealogy of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 1 covered three lists of 14 generations. Each list covered different lengths of time, according to archaeological findings: Abraham to David nearly 1000 years, David to the Exile about 400 years, and the Exile to Christ more than 500 years. In verse 6 David is counted as the last of 14 generations extending from Abraham through David. David is also counted again as the first of 14 generations extending from David to the Exile. Therefore, David is counted twice in the genealogical record.

At the same time, the four women listed in the genealogy of Jesus — Tamar (v. 3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), and the wife of Uriah (v. 6) — were not counted in Matthew's final tabulation of generations. The listing of these women in the genealogy was contrary to the Jewish custom. Yet each of these women was remarkable in some way. Three were once guilty of gross sin (Tamar, Rahab, and the wife of Uriah), and Ruth was of Gentile origin. This circumstance seems to indicate that Matthew did not simply copy the genealogical history of Joseph. He seemed to have a specific purpose in mind, and he omitted what did not suit the purpose or added what did.

The genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 pertain to the generations elapsed from Adam to the Flood and from the Flood to Abraham, respectively. There is no passage in the Bible specifying the total length of time that actually transpired from Adam to the Flood and from the Flood to Abraham. However, some dates after the Flood-to-Abraham period are given — the period from Joseph to Moses was recorded as 430 years (Exod. 12:40), and the time elapsed from the Exodus to the building of the temple was 480 years (1 Kings 6:1). The absence of recorded elapsed time from Adam to Abraham suggests that this was an indefinite period of time on which Moses was not given exact information by God.

The structures of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 seems to be symmetrical. Each genealogy includes 10 names; Noah is 10 persons from [258] Adam, and Terah is 10 persons from Noah. Each ends with a father having three sons, and the Cainite genealogy (Gen. 4:17-22) ends this way also. The Cainite and Sethite genealogies (Gen. 5) both culminate in their seventh member in terms of Lemech's polygamy, bloody revenge, and boastful arrogance, and Enoch's godliness and direct ascent to God, respectively.

The absence of accurately recorded time from Adam to Abraham and the symmetrical structures of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are highly suggestive of intentional arrangement in a form similar to that of Matthew. If one assumes that a long period of time elapsed between Adam and Abraham, the meager biblical record of events that transpired during this period is not surprising, for it is not uncommon for Scripture to pass over very long periods of time with little or no remark. For example, the greater part of the 430 years of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt is left blank in the sacred history.

3. "Father," "son," and "begot" were used in a broad sense. Several Biblical passages contain ancestral titles used in a broad sense. We know from earlier discussion that several names have been omitted in Matthew 1:8 after Joram. Therefore, Jorarn was actually the great-great-grandfather of Urriah. It is obvious that the "father" used in verse 8 between Joram and Uzziah means "ancestor" instead of its conventional meaning. In 1 Chronicles 1:36 the Hebrew text includes seven names after "the sons of Eliphaz," making it appear that all the seven named are sons. Actually one of the names, Timna, was that of a concubine, not a son. Only the New International Version translates clearly that Timna was Eliphaz's concubine as recorded also in Genesis 36:11-12 and that the other six are sons.

The genealogy of Samuel in 1 Chronicles 6:22-24, 37-38 suggests that an individual is a son of the preceeding descendant: "The descendants Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son" (vv. 22-23 NIV). However, the first Assir, Eklanah, and Ebiasaph were all sons of Korah and thus brothers. Korah's father, Amminadab is also called Izhar in verse 38. This practice of listing dual names is common throughout the Bible.

Matthew 1:1 reads, "Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham." "Son" here obviously means descendant. Therefore, the biblical writers and translators seem to use the words "father" and "son" freely to mean "ancestor" or "descendant," and sometimes the persons are not closely related.

The regular formula in the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 10 is “A lived years and begat B, and A lived after he begat B years and [259] begat sons and daughters. And B lived years and begat C . . .” (KJV). The Hebrew word “begat” is sometimes used for succeeding generations. Zilpah is said to have “born to” Jacob her great-grandchildren (Gen. 46:18 NIV) and Bilhah her grandchildren (Gen. 46:25). Canaan is recorded to have begotten whole nations (Gen. 10:15-18). Furthermore, if the dates are true, Adam was contemporary with every generation until the Flood, except Noah. Methuselah died in the year of the Flood. Shem survived Abraham for 35 years; Salah, 3 years; and Eber, 64 years. For 58 years Noah was the contemporary of Abraham, and Shem actually survived Abraham for 35 years. Such conclusions are contrary to the spirit of the record that presupposed a much longer gap between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham.

A comparison of the Hebrew text with the Septuagint (Greek) and the Samaritan Pentateuch also reveals discrepancies in the years assigned to the antidiluvial patriarchs. Different versions seek to bring the ages of the patriarchs into closer conformity. The Samaritan and the Septuagint versions vary systematically from the Hebrew text, suggesting that these translations were trying to accommodate the Mosaic narratives to the demands of the accepted Egyptian antiquity at the time. However, the Hebrew text (A.D. 980), although it came much later than the Septuagint (250-150 B.C.).(18) and the Samaritan Pentateuch (143-37 B.C.) (19), was well established as the most accurate original transcript of the Old Testament.

Moses, who lived for some time in Egypt, must have known as much about the age of Egypt as the Septuagint translators or any other translators. If some translators felt that the original genealogy from which they drew their information was inadmissible to fit the antiquity of Egypt and that they had to introduce up to 900 years into the lives of the patriarch, it is highly suggestive that Moses did not intend for the genealogies to be interpreted chronologically. This suggestion was born out by the inclusion of Cainan (Luke 3:36) in the genealogy of Jesus. This name was not found in the Hebrew text, but it occurs in Genesis 11:13 in the Septuagint Old Testament (20).

W. H. Green concluded his paper with the following statement: "On these various grounds we conclude that the Scriptures furnish no data for a chronological computation prior to the life of Abraham, and that the Mosaic records do not fix and were not intended to fix the precise date either of the Flood or of the creation of the world" (15).

Thus the purpose of the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 seems to be more to show the effect of sin on human vitality and longevity rather than to establish chronology. In the formula discussed above, B could be the [260] literal son of a distant descendant, and the age of A may be his age at the birth of the child from whom B was descended. This may allow centuries, millenniums, or hundreds of thousands of years to intervene between A and B.

The proponents of a recent creation have revised their date of creation back to 10,000 B.C. or so because of these arguments. However, they will not make any further concession, for this would introduce too large a gap into the genealogies (21, 22). However, it is entirely personal preference and not based on any exegetical data.

Bible passages referring to "the last days [times]" (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:2; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18) and the promise of Jesus' imminent return (Rev. 1:3; 22:10, 12, 20) fit in nicely with the assumption that humans have existed for hundreds of thousands of years prior to Christ's first coming. The use of "last days" implies that the major part of the world's history has been finished. The passages indicate that Christ's coming is to be expected within a short period, yet over 2000 years have passed since the promises. When contrasted with the thousands of years people have existed on earth, it is a short time. However, the passages are far-fetched if it is assumed that created life has existed for only 4000-10,000 years, because one would be forced to interpret the "last days" to mean the last one-half to one-fifth of the created order. This assumption seems to misread the intent of the "last days" passages (13).

7.1.4 Creation Account in Light of the Findings of Modern Science

a) Day-age Interpretation of Creation. The traditional day-age interpretations of the creation account assign days to various geological periods (23, 24). However, this seems to ignore the inconsistency of the creation of land plants, including herbs that yield seeds and trees that yield fruit, in the third day that is usually treated as corresponding to the Silurian Age. In the geological record the first fossil of fruit-bearing Angiosperms was found in the Cretaceous period that is more than 220 million years later than the Silurian Age (see Table 2.8).

Some try to explain away this problem by assuming that God in His revelation of creation to Moses revealed only the organisms existing at Moses' time. Thus the extinct organisms found in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras were ignored in the creation account. The third day was interpreted as corresponding to the Tertiary period where the land plants were abundant, and the fifth and sixth days are credited to the Quarternary and recent periods, respectively (25). (The fourth day did not involve the creation of any living organisms and is thus not included in the alignment of the geological timetable.) This view encounters the difficulties of implying that God misled or deceived humans and also of the fact that [261] quite a few species of "living fossils" that persist in much of the geological column are extant today.

b) Overlapping Day-age and Modified Intermittent-day Models. The two views this author finds most consistent with the findings of modern science and the exegesis of the Genesis account are, namely, the overlapping day-age model (26, 13) and the modified intermittent-day model (13).They are represented in Tables 7.1 and 7.2. Several remarks can be made concerning these two models.

1. Both views maintain the orthodox position of creation ex nihilo (from no previously existing material). This is based on Genesis 1:1 as an independent sentence. Liberals have charged that this verse should be a dependent clause. They suggest that instead of the original statement of "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," it should read, "In the beginning of the creating of God . . . ." If this new translation is used together with verse 2, "The earth was formless and empty . . ." (NIV), it would imply that when God created, He used chaotic material that was presumably already there. This interpretation then reduces the unique Judeo-Christian God to a god similar to that of Plato's Timaeus who can only shape the world according to the design of eternal ideas.

The controversy revolves around the translation of the Hebrew word for "beginning." The word is eloquently defended in E. J. Young's work Studies in Genesis One. Young said that according to Hebrew lexicography and the usage of the word in other parts of the Bible, the most exegetically sound interpretation of this word in verse 1 is "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This stands as a simple declaration of the fact of absolute creation.

2. Both views assume that the Genesis account is a description of what God revealed to an earthbound observer as if he had been present during God's creative activities. Therefore, Moses tended to use the language of his day to describe what he actually observed. Moses' observations are interpreted through his particular mental processes and recorded in the simplest terms understandable to his contemporaries. His early language naturally had a limitation in that it had no scientific terms of a technical nature. This means that when Moses said that "God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars" (Gen. 1:16 NIV), he was really describing the first appearance of the sun, moon, and stars. This point will be elaborated in the following remarks.

Table 7.1. The Overlapping day-age model

Table 7.2. Synopsis of creative activity according to proposed modified intermittent-day-view.*

*NOTE: Reprinted, with permission, from Newman, R. C.; Eckelmann, H. J., Jr. Genesis one and the origin of the earth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 1977. © 1977 InterVarsity Press.
3. The current popular Star Formation Model of the origin of the earth and the solar system has been nicely harmonized with the Genesis account (13). The model incorporates some of the elements of the well-accepted [262] accepted Big Bang theory of the galaxies. This theory pictures the universe as expanding from a super dense state that exploded 13 billion years ago. The earth and the planets are natural products of a cloud of interstellar gas and dust as it cooled down during the process of expansion. [263]

Genesis 1:2 states that "the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep . . ." (NIV). This would imply that the earth at this point of the narrative is not yet a solid body but is shapeless, empty, and hardly visible. Genesis 1:2 then states that "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (NIV). "Waters" can be interpreted as a large fluid mass of ice or water vapor. Thus the earth was covered with a watery mass, and this is in agreement with the scientific model of a dark nebula containing water vapor.

Genesis 1:6-8 seems to indicate the formation of the earth's atmosphere by the creation of the expanse or firmament, separating the waters above and below. The creation of plants in the latter part of the third day (Gen. 1:12) is also consistent with the scientific view that plants that can undergo photosynthesis and give off oxygen are presumably responsible for the introduction of oxygen into the reducing atmosphere (see I.3.3.1.b). It is believed that microscopic photosynthetic organisms may have been created prior to land plants to aid in the oxygenation process as indicated in the geological column. These organisms, which would probably have escaped the unaided naked eyes of an earthbound observer, were not recorded. With the oxygenation of the atmosphere, the surface of the earth that had been covered with watery masses and clouds began to clear up. Therefore, from the viewpoint of the earthbound observer, there is recorded the creation of the sun, moon, and stars as they were first visible in the fourth day.

4. Both the overlapping day-age model and the modified intermittent-day model allow for processes of change to take place after the creation of each prototype of living creatures. We have seen in previous discussions that the human was created from nonliving materials, and the stipulations "according to their kinds (its kind)" in Gen. 1:12, 21, 24 seem to imply there is only a limited amount of change among each "kind." However, the Genesis account never specifies what the biological boundaries of "kind" are, and one should be cautious in suggesting what these really might have been. The term "produce" in Genesis 1:12, 24 also suggests that processes may be involved.

The late Arnold Guyot, Blair Professor of Geology and Physical Geology of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), has observed that the Hebrew word bära, translated "created," occurs on only three occasions in Genesis 1: verse 1, at the creation of the heavens and the earth; verse 21, at the creation of animal life; and verse 27, at the creation of humans (27). Therefore, he believed that the Bible teaches the creations of matter, animal life, and humans are distinct events, demanding direct divine intervention. Guyot's interpretation implies that [264] the evolution from matter to life and from animal life to humans is impossible. Although the overworking of this interpretation is unwarranted, it is possible that the processes of microevolution are not at all excluded.

It is reasonable to interpret that "kind" of the Genesis account may mean the original ancestral form of a certain group of organism such as the fruit fly Drosophila, which later on developed into the present-day species through microevolution (see I.3.2.2.b). It is unlikely that the term "good" pronounced by God in Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 25, 31 means completion and that each creation is a finality incapable of further changes and development, for God did not pronounce "it was good" after the creative activities of the second day. Moreover, 1 Timothy 4:4-5 states that "everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" (NIV). This passage seems to suggest that "good" is used in contrast with "evil," so that we can receive everything God created with thanksgiving because it is not evil.

5. The succession of the creation of the living forms given in Genesis 1 seems to be as follows: (1) plants (third day); (2) invertebrates and some vertebrates (fifth day); (3) mammals, or the higher vertebrates (first half of the sixth day); (4) humans, the highest form of mammals (second half of the sixth day). Both the overlapping day-age and modified intermittent-day models provide for the paleontological record because the difficulty of the fruit plants appearing earlier than the invertebrates and some vertebrates is resolved. The models assume that the third creative period extends to a time contemporary with or later than the creation of the invertebrates and some vertebrates.

The problem of the propagation of land plants, which are immotile, in the third day without the aid of pollinating insects can also be resolved by assuming the overlapping or contemporaneousness of the creation of the land plants and some of the land animals. However, all microscopic organisms found in earlier geological times would have escaped the unaided eye of Moses and therefore are not recorded in the creation account. Both models suggest that God created all living organisms with a similar blueprint. This accounts for the similarities of the comparative structures and functions among organisms and their similarities in physiology and biochemical genetics.

6. The overlapping day-age model differs from the modified intermittent-day model in two respects. First, the former takes the phrase "there was evening, and there was morning" to symbolize the beginning and the end of a creative period. The latter assumes that "evening . . . morning" actually represents a 24-hour day that precedes each creative [265] period that extends into the present and will be ended only in the future. The overlapping day-age model and the traditional view assumes creation was ended at the conclusion of the sixth day (Gen. 1:31). However, the modified intermittent-day model suggests that each time "evening . . . morning" is mentioned, a new creative era is introduced by a 24-hour day, and this is followed by a long indefinite period of time in which all the creative activities of that era take place. Second, the overlapping day-age model accepts the literal meaning of Genesis 2:2 that God has rested from His creative activities in the Sabbath that extends through the present into the future. Therefore, God's activities today (John 5:17) are those of redemption (2 Cor. 6:2) and providence (Heb. 1:1-3).

The modified intermittent-day model, on the other hand, suggests that we are still observing God's creative activities in the earth through the changes and developments of the inorganic as well as the organic world. This model proposes that we are living in the creative period that intervenes between the sixth and seventh days in which God's principal activity is the creation of redeemed humans. For this latter position, Hebrews 4:1-11 is taken to mean an absolute rest in which God ceases all activities in the seventh day and will commence again only at the inception of the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-8). At the second point of diversion between the two models, the overlapping day-age model seems to be at a slight advantage since it does not strain the interpretation of Genesis 2:1 that states "thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array" (NIV).

The creation or a redeemed people (2 Cor. 5:17) seems to be qualitatively different from the creation of the earth. The former is concerned with the spiritual rebirth of humans whereas the latter is primarily concerned with the bringing into existence of the world and humans. The overlapping day-age position views the microevolutionary processes observed today in nature and the laboratory as development and differentiation of preexisting life instead of creation of new life, and this is borne out by scientific findings.

The conjunction "and" that follows all of the concluding "and there was evening, and there was morning ? the day" (Gen. 1:3, 8, 13, 19, 23) and precedes a new creative narrative seems to suggest overlapping between the subsequent events and the previous ones. However, "and" is replaced by "thus" in Genesis 2:1 immediately following "and there was evening, and there was morning ? the sixth day" of Gen. 1:31. It seems to end too abruptly for the modified intermittent-day view that takes Genesis 1:31 as the beginning of the sixth creative era.

It can be criticized that both the overlapping day-age model and the [266] modified intermittent-day model read too much into the Genesis account and an ordinary person would never obtain such ideas from the account without external reference. However, if both of these models are exegetically sound, which is the contention of this author, and circumvent much of the apparent conflict between science and the traditional interpretation of the Bible, an open-minded person should seriously consider them viable options. C. Hodge, a leading evangelical theologian, stated:

It is of course admitted that, taking this [Mosaic] account by itself it would be most natural to understand the word ["day"] in its ordinary sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflicts then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other [overlapping day-age theory] (28).
Blocher (34) proposed another view which he called “literary interpretation”in that the creation account in Genesis should be interpreted "historico-artistically." That is, as a framework of seven days used anthropomorphically by the author of Genesis to outline a theology of Sabbath. Blocher traces the anthropomorphic usage of the word "days" back to Augustine.(35) Aquinas also recognizes the difference between the work of distinction (days 1-3) and the work of adornment (days 4-6), although he interprets a day as a 24-hour solar day.(36) The difficulties of the creation of the heavenly luminaries after the creation of light, and the inconsistencies of the timing sequence of the creation of plants as recorded in Genesis 1 and 2, are resolved by the anthropomorphic use of "days."

7.1.5 Difficult Problems in the Attempts to Harmonize the Bible and Science. Any scientific model may find phenomena that cannot be accounted for reasonably, and thus, it may need constant modification or revision. Our models are subjected to this same criticism and revamping. Although this author maintains that the progressive creationist position faces fewer problems than the fiat creationist and theistic evolutionist positions, there are nonetheless problems to be resolved. However, these problems are not insurmountable, and the progressive creationist has a conscientious attitude in the search for answers. It will suffice to mention only two of the most perplexing questions that are constantly being tackled in the attempt to relate the Bible to scientific data.

a) Antiquity of Humans. How does the antiquity of humans fit in with the seemingly advanced civilization of Genesis 4 although the human fossils that have been found lack cultural artifacts?

If the cranial characteristics and the capacity of toolmaking are the criteria for identifying humans, then people have been around in the form of Australopithecus for as long as five million years (see Figure 2.16). On the other hand, if the use of fire is a distinctively human characteristic, Homo erectus who roamed the earth close to one million years ago is a good candidate for early humans. However, if the practice of burial rite is considered the characteristic human trait, then human status can be assigned to only Homo neanderthalensis, who lived as early as 150,000 years ago. The Homo sapiens fossils dated around 40,000 years old with modern cranial features and characteristic human civilization are unquestionably human and bear close resemblance to modern humans. It is safe to conclude that physical anthropology suggests that humans have been on earth for perhaps millions of years.

Both current scientific theories and the scriptural account agree on the basic unity of the human race, i.e., the present human varieties all stem [267] from a common stock. However, since the advent of human civilization was only a relatively recent event (see Figure 2.14), the Neolithic culture that involves the domestication of plants and animals did not come on the scene until approximately 9000 B.C. (29). However, the account of Genesis 4 seems to suggest a fairly complete culture for humans immediately after the Fall.

The large gap that exists between the first human as evidenced from the fossil record and the advent of human civilization is a major problem. It deserves diligent efforts by scholars intimately involved in anthropological studies. There are several suggestions in the attempt to resolve this apparent enigma.

We have seen the fiat creationist position that ignores the early human fossils and the theistic evolutionist position that ignores the Genesis account. Both of these theories create more problems than they solve.

Still another idea is suggested in the gap theory as mentioned in Table 6.1 and the appendix. The gap theory attributes early human fossils to pre-Adamites in a first creation "implied" by Genesis 1:1. The theory states that pre-Adamites were subsequently wiped out before the onset of the events recorded in Genesis 1:2 and the rest of the Bible.

Another theory suggests there were two Adams. This idea states that Adam of Genesis 1 is not the same as the Adam in Genesis 2, the former being the Old Stone Age Adam and the latter being the New Stone Age Adam. This theory suggests that the rest of the Bible is about the Fall and salvation of the New Stone Age Adam (30). The last two theories are not exegetically sound and seem to impinge on the fundamental concept of the unity of the human race.

A theory by Buswell III (29) suggests that the description of Cain and Abel in Genesis is comparatively meager and that they may not really be "domesticators" of plants and animals. He says that they may appear to be such due to the translation of Moses' language. Their respective concern with vegetable and animal provision might have been vastly more primitive. This would date them to an early time.

Buswell II (20) believes Cain could have lost his cultural attainment because of the prevalence of sin based on Genesis 4:12. Thus a considerable part of the economic culture as God gave it to humans before the Fall might have been lost at an early date and then rediscovered gradually (see Gen. 3:17-19). The advanced culture suggested by Cain's descendants can then be attributed to the arrival of civilization after many generations had elapsed and the human population had grown. This interpretation is borne out by Genesis 4:17 that suggests the presence of dynasties or tribes instead of individuals, and this necessitated the building of a city. [268] The lost civilizations implicated by the archaeological remains found in South and Central America lend credence to the possibility of an advanced culture that was wiped out suddenly. The question is raised as to whether there is a connection between this culture and the cities of Genesis 4:17. However, without solid prehistoric findings of cultural artifacts these theories remain speculative and need to be reevaluated when more data becomes available.

b) What Is the Extent of the Noachian Deluge?

(1) Universal Flood. There are two theories propounded in the attempt to answer this question. The universal-flood theory is based on the literal interpretation of Genesis 7:1 to 8:22 and the fact that some type of flood story is found in every culture of the world, except Japan and a few places in Africa. Readers are referred to the recent extensive treatments of this theory by Whitcomb and Morris (4), Patten (31), and Filby (32). The difficulty in this theory is mainly the lack of clear geological evidence to indicate that a cataclysmic event did cover the broad area required by a universal flood (33).
Another perplexing phenomenon that cannot be accounted for successfully by the theory of a universal flood is the biogeographical distribution of fauna (see I.2.4). The distinct biotic regions separated from each other by land masses or ocean barriers are very difficult to reconcile with a universal flood that devastated the fauna of the earth. This would mean that the present fauna all originated from the animals saved by Noah's ark. However, the physical barriers separating the biotic regions are too harsh for land animals to cross (see Figure 2.24).

If the theory of continental drift correctly describes the configuration of the land masses of the ancient earth, the continents existed in close proximity with each other more than 60 million years ago. If the migration of animals is to be used to account for the present biotic distribution, one has to postulate that the Flood must be dated back to the time when the continents were together so that when the animals were released from the ark after the inundation, they could migrate to repopulate the earth. Since humans came on the scene only a few million years ago by the most liberal estimate, this date for the Flood is totally unacceptable.

(2) Local Flood. The local-flood theory (33) is the second theory dealing with the Noachin Deluge. It tries to get around the difficulty of accounting for biogeography. There are two forms of this theory, and both hold to the view that the waters inundated only the Mesopotamian Valley and its vicinity. The two views are (1) the Flood was universal in the sense that it wiped out all humans, who had not spread very far from the Mesopotamian Valley when the Flood occurred, and (2) the Flood wiped [269] out only the inhabitants of the Mesopotamian Valley.

The major argument of the local-flood theory is that there is a sort of metonymy commonly employed by the ancient Near Eastern Culture to speak of a considerable part as a whole. This seems to be evident in numerous biblical passages (Gen. 41:57; Deut. 2:25; 1 Kings 18:10; Ps. 22:17; Matt. 3:5; John 4:39; Acts 2:5). These are cases when "all" means "all" and "every" means "every," but the context tells us where this is intended. Therefore, the universality of the flood may simply mean the universality of the experience of the one who reported it. There was no knowledge concerning the scope of the earth, not to mention the New Continents at Moses' time. It is difficult to conceive how Moses would visualize the universal flood without knowing the entire scope of the earth. The universal legendary flood stories can be attributed to the people with the common origin of being from the area that experienced the Deluge. This theory is held by most anthropologists.

The local-flood theory also avoids the necessity to propose a mechanism by which the whole globe could be covered by water. It is estimated that to cover the highest mountains would require eight times more water than what the earth has now. Therefore, the local-flood theory seems to be facing fewer obstacles than the universal-flood theory.

For more details readers are referred to Hugh Miller's classic treatment (18) of the local-flood theory and a more updated version by Bernard Ramm (10). Davis Young also criticizes the views held by the flood geologists who advocate a universal flood (33).

In summary, we can state that the Christian world view has made a substantial contribution to the development of modern science. Since nature is God's handiwork, Christians are obligated to search for truth about God through biblical as well as natural revelation. Some Christians believe in a God-directed evolutionary origin of life. Others reject any mechanistic explanation of the origin of life as anti-Christian. There are also Christians who believe God created basic life forms that subsequently diversified into many varieties and species through the natural forces God has put into place. To this author the last group avoids the constraints of humanistic extrapolations of science that are made at the expense of the integrity of the Scriptures. This view also is not constrained by adherence to theological traditions that suppress the objectivity of science.

References 7.1

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2. Buswell, J. O., lI. Systematic theology of the Christian religion. Vol. [270] 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 1963:  156.
3. Newman, R. C.; Eckelmann, H. J. Genesis one and the origin of the earth. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity; 1977: 57.
4. Whitcomb, J. C.; Morris, H. M. The Genesis flood. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed; 1961.
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15. Reprinted from: Green, W. H. Bibl. Sacra. (April):285-303; 1890. Newman, R. C. Genesis one. 105-23.
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19. Purvis, J. D. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the origin of the Samaritan sect. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press; 1968: 16-17.
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22. Whitcomb, J. C., Jr. The early earth. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker; 1972: 107-11.
23. Miller, H. Testimony of the rocks. New York: Hurst; 1856.
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30. Pearce, E. K. V. Who was Adam? Exiters: Paternoster; 1969.
31. Patten, D. W. The biblical flood and the ice epoch. Seattle, WA: Pacific Meridian; 1966.
32. Filby, F. A. The flood reconsidered. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 1970.
33. Young, D. Creation and the flood. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker; 1977.
34. Blocher, H. 1984 In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, translated by D. G. Preston. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, chap. 2.
35. Augustine. The City of God, translated by Henry Betterson. London:  Penguin Books (1972), Book XIII, p. 430.
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