Great Stuff Found on the Web — Confessional’s Bytes on “Six Day Creation?”

Another excellent book review found over on Confessional’s Bytes:

 

A controversy I regularly encounter amongst Christians is over a literal six day creation as recorded in the Old Testament book of Genesis. In Genesis chapter one verses one through thirty-one (Gen 1:1-31) we read the creation account which spans six periods of time described in the text as “there was evening and there was morning” followed by “the first day,” “the second day,” and so on and so forth until “the sixth day.” Are these “days” literal twenty four hour periods? Did God literally work one of the grandest miracles of all in creating the entire universe in one hundred and forty-four hours? Not all Christians take the Genesis account of creation literally. Indeed, some insist, such as the “Day Age” proponents, that the six days of creation are not literal twenty-four hour cycles. Instead a “day” is a descriptor of what can be a very large period of time, or age.

Who is correct? Are the “Day Age” proponents correct, or are those who take the natural reading of the Genesis account for a one hundred and forty-four hour creation correct? The answer to those questions are provided in a great little book of only eighty pages in length titled, In the Beginning, GOD written by Dr. Joel D. Heck.

In his book Dr. Heck presents an excellent defense of a literal six day creation, arguing from the Hebrew language and from grammar. With a small amount of effort he masterfully exegetes New Testament passages and presents evidence from the Church Fathers in support of cogent arguments demonstrating why the “Day Age” proponents are wrong in their approach to the Scriptures and why we ought to take the Genesis account of creation literally.

One argument from the “Day Age” proponents that I had found difficult to overcome at one time is taken from Genesis 1:3 where we are told that God created light, but it isn’t reported until verse sixteen that God created the Sun. So how is it possible that there is light without the Sun? Here is how Dr. Heck approaches the problem in his book:

One common objection to a traditional reading of Genesis 1 is the creation of light before the creation of the light-bearers. That can’t happen, some say—which is true, if your presupposition for a chapter filled with miracles are entirely naturalistic. This, however, was not a problem for some of the Church Fathers, such as Theophilus of Antioch and Basil the Great. In fact, why can’t light exist before the creation of the sun? God is light (1 John 1:5), the ultimate light source, not only figuratively but also literally, so why not? The first three days of Genesis may not have been solar days, because the sun was not yet created, but those days are still circumscribed by one evening and one morning. This is the second miracle of Genesis. (Ibid. p. 20)

Did you catch the implication raised by Dr. Heck with the point of miracles? In other words, why should a Christian be surprised that light exists prior to the Sun when it is God who is Lord over even light and is in fact light? God is most certainly able to call into existence light, gravity, space-time, etc. without the Sun. How it happened we can’t say other than to point out that it is a miracle. If we hold a presupposition against miracles based on our own reason, then it makes “good sense” that physical light doesn’t exist without a physical light source and therefore we can’t take Genesis one literally. However, pointing out the miraculous nature of the events recorded in Genesis one pushes the “Day Age” proponent into either rejecting their rationalistic endeavor of trying to harmonize the Scriptures with our own understanding of physical evidence (empiricism), or in rejecting miracles all together. If it is the case that miracles are rejected all together, then events such as the resurrection of Jesus must also be rejected and at that point the “Day Age” proponent must understand he is not really Christian at all (1 Corinthians 15:14-17).

In the Beginning, GOD has many excellent points and arguments crammed into eighty pages. As I was reading this book I wished that Dr. Heck had expanded upon all his points and given me more. It was one of those books where I felt I was eating an amouse-bouche that should have been a full course. But that is my only gripe with an otherwise worthwhile read. If you haven’t read In the Beginning, GOD by Dr.Joel D. Heck, then you should pick up this little gem over at Concordia Publishing House (here at this link). It will be the best four dollars you spent in a long-time, literally.

 

Head on over to Confessional’s Bytes for more great articles.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web — Confessional’s Bytes on “Six Day Creation?” — 170 Comments

  1. @#4 Kitty #148

    “….magically popped into existence”

    Oh you must be referring to God speaking the world into existence by the power of his Word…

    God’s act of creation is not “magic,” myth, or an illusion. When God speaks things happen. God said “let there be light,” and there was light. Jesus tells the storm to be still, and it’s still.

    Do not ridicule God’s Word: “….magically popped into existence.” O Lord, have mercy!

    As it has been stated above, let me say it again: (modern) science assumes from the start that everything has natural causes. Of course, there isn’t a scientific journal who claims that a Father created through his Word by the Holy Spirit! Let’s not be silly.

    I would suggest you talk about these things with your pastor. You need to rethink what you’ve said, and I pray that he’s the man to do it.

    Matthew 11:25-27 (Gospel lesson this week, 3-year).

  2. @#4 Kitty #148

    Interpreting Genesis one is not about science and therein is the terrible problem you are creating in interpretation. You are pitting the Scriptures against science and where a natural reading of the Scriptures is apparently at odds with your understanding of the latest theories, then the Scriptures must submit to science. The end effect here is that your rationalistic approach to interpreting the text butchers it creating a false dichotomy of what is reasonable (in this case what is “reasonable” is a belief based upon empirical evidence) and what can only be irrational belief (belief in things such as resurrections from the dead which can’t be verified by science). In order to grapple with the irrational beliefs you have turned the whole of Scripture into metaphor thinking that by taking the Scriptures as parabolic language you preserve “truth.” What you have only accomplished though is tossing the truth of Scriptures into a “no man’s land” of irrationality that can’t be reasonably apprehended even by the regenerate mind. All you are left with are a set of symbols that can be bent and shaped by any individual’s belief about the metaphor. This is called relativism where there is no “the Truth.” One man’s metaphor is his own “truth.”

    I believe you are taking Augustine wrongly. For instance, in the passage you cite Augustine asks this rhetorical question, “If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?” Here Augustine is claiming that the resurrection of the dead, eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven are facts as sure as what we know about “the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world.” Augustine’s fear is that some Christians are talking nonsense about things we plainly know from reason and experience and attributing such nonsense to God’s word. The point is NOT that Augustine is elevating what we experentially know above the Scriptures. The point being made by Augustine is that what we know about the world from reason, experience, and the Scriptures (facts) makes some of these babbling Christians look foolish and he worries that they are creating stumbling blocks for the non-Christian who knows better and whom he states ought to believe additional facts such as the resurrection, eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven.

    So again, I don’t think Augustine is arguing that the Scriptures must yield to Science as you argue. But, if he were, then I would certainly state (along with many other Lutherans present and past) Augustine is wrong here. I definitely wouldn’t hang my hat on this one citation.

  3. @#4 Kitty #148

    Btw, I found this Augustine quote from his book City of God:

    “We see that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting [of the sun] and no morning but by the rising of the sun, but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness and called the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night’; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was and yet must unhesitatingly believe it” (ibid., 11:7). ( source, emphasis mine)

  4. #4 Kitty : My primary question is can an image or statement be true without it being literal?

    Yes, certainly, Scripture interprets Scripture. The intent of the Author is crucial in knowing whether something is intended literally or not, and we have always known and taught that there is much in Scripture that is not intended to be taken literally. Thus a parable does not have to be a true story to reflect a true lesson–the truth is in the Teacher, however. The truth must be based somewhere.

    However, my concern is that you’re stepping toward denial of much that is clearly intended to be taken literally, and much that is absolutely crucial to faithful Christianity–the Resurrection, in particular. That is dangerous ground, my friend.

  5. #4 Kitty :It seems there are limited number of positions a contemporary Christian can take in regard to our discussion on interpretation of scripture vs science.
    1> Augustine’s position where if interpretation contradicts science then interpretation must yield.2> The Confessional Lutheran approach which insists scientific observation must yield.3> A pseudo synthesis where one insists science agrees with a literal interpretation of scripture. In other words insisting that 21st century science agrees that Yahweh created the universe exactly how Genesis one describes.
    Are there others?
    Sceptical people like Kitty like to have their cake and eat it too..Why not? My primary question is can an image or statement be true without it being literal?

    I know of no 6-day creationist who insists that 21st century science necessarily agrees with a literal interpretation of scripture. In fact, they almost universally state that 21st century science does not agree with a literal interpretation of scripture. No account of creation can be proven–we weren’t there–the question is not one of proof, scientific or other, but of faith. Science has not proven the Big Bang–in fact, there are many problems with it that defy explanation. The Big Bang is simply Science’s latest version of Truth, but like phlogiston, will probably be relegated to the dust bins of history, having been replaced by something else, as observation continues apace. Besides, anyone who believes in the “singularity” that began it all has a heckuva lot of faith. http://www.big-bang-theory.com/ There’s a lot of “we don’t know” there.

    When one tries to cram science/evolution into the Genesis account, Theistic evolution is the most common result: God used evolution in his creative activity. I’ve already discussed the dangers of that position. (See post #107). Other hybrids also arise, all of which call into question the clear straightforward words of Genesis, and which present their own logical and scientific difficulties, let alone contradict scripture. When one sets science over scripture then everything is suspect and up for grabs. Add science’s cousin, H/C, to the mix, and the concepts of “truth,” “myth”, “metaphor” and “faith” become, for me at least, hopelessly entangled.

    In the end (or beginning!), it either happened by chance or it was created. There are no other options. “The either-or begins to emerge.”

    Respectfully,

    Johannes

  6. @#4 Kitty #149
    “I’m glad you’re here too Jim. As well as T.R. Halvorson, Johannes, Pastor Rossow, and you too Helen. Very gracious of you to give me audience. ”

    You’re very welcome, Kitty. I especially appreciate the restraint, civility, and sensitivity of all those who are participating in this discussion. Thanks to all of you for the high tone with which this thread is proceeding.

    Johannes

  7. @Johannes #155
    which is why scientists keep extrapolating information to prove their points which proves even less…http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/research/gr/public/qg_ss.html

    especially when they discuss that our universe was the result of another universe collapsing and when our universe collapses we will give birth to another universe, not to mention that there may be other Andrews and Johannes in different dimensions that live similar but different lives to our own.

    Six day creation is just fine with me.

  8. @Andrew #157

    The universe (or “universes” if you will) are not big enough for two Andrews and Johanneses. No way!

    That is one scarey thought.

    J

  9. @Jim Pierce #160

    @Johannes #158

    “I have to confess that I was frightened by this possibility, too. ;)”

    Yes, your concern is well-founded–there might be a couple more Jim Pierces out there someplace!

    J

  10. questions I’m asking as well as the ideas that I’m presenting are very near to me

    It is good that they are. Some people elsewhere are only playing at the issues under discussion. Better that the matter is really near to you.

    Getting to know the participants through this venue, I sense that the matter is near to all of us in this thread. In other threads I have advocated for formulating doctrine unidirectionally, always working forward from Scripture, and never backing into what is perceived to be needed. But the truth is, while I do that cerebrally, there is a parallel process going on in which I back into doctrine from my need. Here is my need: something needs to be done about my sin. This is near to me. “My sin is ever before me.” Hell is only the punishment, but sin is the crime. Sin is worse than hell.

    Reincarnation, purgatory, man-made sacraments, Atman-Brahman enlightenment, sync with the Tao, and the rest don’t do it for me. Salvation is one thing, and assurance of salvation is another. Assurance has been trouble for me. I get no assurance from those things, and assurance in Americanized Christianity is not such an easy thing either. Most of the time assurance is provided in America by trivializing sin. To me, that’s all the more unsettling because I have glimpses of the enormity, gravity, iniquity, and entrenchment of sin, so any trivializing of it just erodes the credibility of the trivializing claim.

    One evening this spring I was reading Pieper’s section on the objectivity of the Atonement. Before I knew it, I was weeping with assurance of my salvation because the Atonement is objective. In an epiphany, Pieper showed me that all the subjective underminers of assurance are irrelevant. None of that matters. The fact is, Jesus atoned for my sins. After I had a refreshment of the intellectual recognition of that fact, on the basis of that fact, I had a flood of emotional relief. I don’t trust the emotion, but I trust its basis, what Christ did on the Cross, and therefore I am happy for the emotion.

    For myself, I am typically translating things into farmer terms. Here is one facet of the jewel of the Cross as I see it in a farmerlike way. During homesteading, a farmer saw a prairie fire licking towards the farmstead under high winds. There was no way to avoid death by running ahead or to a flank of the fire. It was too wide, too high, and too fast. The farmer told his little son to run to the house and get the matchers. While the boy was doing that, the farmer gathered the rest of his family together. When he got the matches, the farmer lit one, and set the farm yard on fire. After a few minutes, he huddled his family onto the burnt out ground. The prairie fire came, but they were safe, because they were standing on burnt out ground.

    The Cross is burnt out ground. There, God’s wrath was exhausted onto Jesus. When I stand there, I am safe, even though the fire comes. I realize that this is an incomplete and in some ways an incorrect view of the Atonement, but in this view, Christ substituted himself into my place under the law and the wrath of God, and satisfied the wrath to the uttermost for me.

    Given the enormity of God’s wrath for sin, how could He exhaust it on one Person? Solely because of Who that one Person is. Without the biographical and historical fact of Who Jesus is, this does not work; instead, an unexpended wrath remains. The more, if any part of Jesus coming from heaven, being incarnate in the womb of the virgin Mary, born under the law, living an obedient life, suffering innocently under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended is not fact, then there is no burnt out ground, and I can have no assurance because there is no objective Atonement, at least, not anything that I can be assured of. The subjective underminers of assurance will always get me unless the Atonement is objective, and for that, myth does not work.

    Paul makes one of his arguments for the Atonement depend on the one man Adam, and his one transgression, and the one man Christ, and his one act of righteousness. Rom 5:12-21. One man, one sin, one righteous act … that’s history, biography, objective fact.

    He says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” This is close to me. I get that. If Christ has not been raised, my faith is vain, I remain in my sins, and I am under wrath. I cannot make the Atonement work without the facts of it being historical and biographical.

    I don’t recommend the parallel process that I have described because I know it is bad hermeneutics. I am simply admitting that whether I should be doing it or not, in fact I am doing this parallel process of seeking relief from sin that is near me, ever before me.

  11. @T. R. Halvorson #164

    The word that makes all the difference: “Objective.” And this word, I submit, is what separates Christianity, indeed Confessional Lutheranism, from all other systems, including the claims and pronouncements of science so-called, (which is hardly objective). Faith, that believes the objective Word of God, and its promises, receives the [metaphorical] burnt-out ground of the very real historical cross, and it is enough. This is Truth–the way things really are.

    One needs no more.

    Thank-you.

    Johannes

  12. T. R. Halvorson :questions I’m asking as well as the ideas that I’m presenting are very near to me
    For myself, I am typically translating things into farmer terms. Here is one facet of the jewel of the Cross as I see it in a farmerlike way. During homesteading, a farmer saw a prairie fire licking towards the farmstead under high winds. There was no way to avoid death by running ahead or to a flank of the fire. It was too wide, too high, and too fast. The farmer told his little son to run to the house and get the matchers. While the boy was doing that, the farmer gathered the rest of his family together. When he got the matches, the farmer lit one, and set the farm yard on fire. After a few minutes, he huddled his family onto the burnt out ground. The prairie fire came, but they were safe, because they were standing on burnt out ground.

    A good analogy, used by Prof. Glenn Nielsen about 10 years ago in a Concordia Journal sermon help, in the context of settlers traveling across the prairie, on the way to the “promised land.”.

  13. @Pastor Phil Spomer #1
    “… there are a number of ways to interpret the text and in addition there are a number of ways to harmonize the text with the ever developing empirical information that we accumulate.”
    Completely and irrefutably wrong on both counts. Let God be true and every man a liar. Romans 3:4. There is no way legitimately or rationally to even discuss, much less defend, the Sabbath or even Christian reality itself unless one talks about six regular days with a regular day sabbath. This is exhaustively proven at http://www.creation.com and http://www.answersinGnesis.org for the few that take God’s Word seriously (but always fudged by others, anti-creationists, being unable to win their arguments any longer, having to resort to various tricks to pretend victory); it’s sad that the accurate Biblical MONERGISTIC hermeneutic of these sites regarding cosmology is not matched by a monergistic SOTERIOLOGY.

    “Some methods presuppose unchristian axioms, which the Orthodox must reject.”
    A half truth. All methods but young-earth creation MUST suppose AT THE VERY LEAST the antiChristian axiom of the INSUFFICIENCY of SCRIPTURE, in that it is not ULTIMATELY authoritative but must constantly be held suspect in ways Jesus never did whenever new allegedly “scientific” “discoveries” are made, despite the countless proven frauds therein, as well as the inherent religious bigotry that must exclude God from the equation even if this results in the manifest lies fraud and bogus research that compose most of modern pseudo-science barely holding on, as did its deranged fascist Lysenkoist soviet forefathers who unbeknownst to us actually defeated us in the cold war, especially the gullible religious where many of them are now a more effective enemy of God and His Word than the Kremlin ever was.

    I would love to see Pastor Phil tangle with Dr. Sarfarti at http://www.creation.com in view of his arrogant condescending attitude toward “most discussions and books about creation” “acting as if there never were anyone named Einstein” while he himself appears not to know the many problems with all of modern fascist lysenkoist soviet pseudo-science that has taken us over, including non-classical physics. Those so quick to dump Newtonian physics are often arrogant newbie antitheist bigots barely dry behind the ears who have far from proven their case for those of us not so gullible as to buy all the fascist antitheist bigotry crap that comes from deranged places like East Anglia.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategate-the-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=394

    Pastor Phil finally opines, “A congenial discussion on the topic is the enjoyment of Christians living under the certainty of God’s grace.”
    but as a creationist I’ve found this is usually rather an invitation to a muzzle versus an actual “congenial discussion” of anything, much less grace, much less God’s, though life is too short and hell is too eternal for me to be interested in “congenial discussion” in the middle of a spiritual warzone where we should rather be determining what is true or false, something with which those who seem eagere to equivocate like him seem rarely concerned.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    Indeed!

  14. @Steve Gehrke #2
    This misses the point. All one needs for a regular “day” is a light source (God) and a rotating earth to yield evening and morning. Sadly people are so gullibly hoodwinked implicitly to trust their bogus modern pseudo-science “priests” far more than God’s Word and Sacrament and His ordained ministers they’ve failed to recognize their gross error, exemplified in the climategate scandal which is only the worst of many evils of the deranged fascist antitheist bigotry of modern pseudo-science that prefers absurd, deranged apostate clergyman evolutionist Darwin to the great scientist and creationist Newton who wrote even more about God’s Word than he did science (knowing which was more important, unlike those today); the great Louis Pasteur was especially hostile to evolution (http://creation.com/louis-pasteur) and its evils he in his great knowledge and wisdom realized would destroy genuine science, as it certainly has for us, seen by the few who aren’t blind to its disastrous effects. Again, see http://www.creation.com (especially ) and http://www.answersinGenesis.org and http://www.trueorigin.org.

  15. @Russ Davis #168

    Well said.

    I carry it further in my own thinking. If we consider time iteself as a creation or a creature, then it is not necessary that any other creation or creature exist for time to exist. Time is not a consequence of the creation of light or any particular light sources. First, God created time. Then He created light and light sources. Then He caused light sources, like the sun, and light reflectors like the moon, to mark times within the time that already had been created.

    This is just like making a clock AFTER we have decided what we want it to measure, and how we want to measure it. What we want to measure and how we want to measure it, exist first, and then we create the clock. Ditto for calendars.

    Also relevant and facinating is the perfection of the Mosaic calendar that has no equal anywhere else amongst calendars. His year always follows the sun. His month always follows the moon. Our Gregorian and Julian months do not. He has a leap year, but not by throwing in an arbitrary fudge factor. He throws in a whole month in a leap year where every month, even the leap month, still follows the moon. The sun and moon thus become perfectly reconciled. It is too simple and brilliant to be accounted for by anything but revelation, and the fact that nature exists so that it can be measured by the Mosaic calender is too beautiful and marvelous to be accounted for by anything but intelligent design. There is not enough scientific evidence to account for it as an accident or chance or anything like that.

    And still, from one angle, this does not matter because the Bible needs no corroboration.

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