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Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years?

by Terry Mortenson August 16, 2007

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Also See   Choose Life That You Might Live.... The Case For Christianity   &     Section II...  Reasons To Believe

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There is an intensifying controversy in the church all over the world regarding the age of the earth. For the first 18 centuries of church history, the almost universal belief of Christians was that God created the world in six literal days roughly 4,000 years before Christ and destroyed the world with a global Flood at the time of Noah.

But about 200 years ago some scientists developed new theories of earth history, which proposed that the earth and universe are millions of years old. Over the past 200 years Christian leaders have made various attempts to fit the millions of years into the Bible. These include the day-age view, gap theory, local flood view, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, and progressive creation.

A growing number of Christians (now called young-earth creationists), including many scientists, hold to the traditional view, believing it to be the only view that is truly faithful to Scripture and that fits the scientific evidence far better than the reigning old-earth evolutionary theory.

Many Christians say that the age of the earth is an unimportant and divisive side issue that hinders the proclamation of the gospel. But is that really the case? Answers in Genesis and many other creationist organizations think not.

In this chapter, I want to introduce you to some of the reasons we think that Christians cannot accept the millions of years without doing great damage to the church and her witness in the world. Other chapters in this book will go into much more detail on these issues.

    The Bible Clearly Teaches That God Created (the World) In Six Literal, 24-Hour Days A Few Thousand Years Ago. The Hebrew word for day in Genesis 1 is yom. In the vast majority of its uses in the Old Testament it means a literal day; and where it doesn’t, the context makes this clear.

    The Context Of Genesis 1 Clearly Shows That The Days Of Creation Were Literal Days. First, yom is defined the first time it is used in the Bible (Genesis 1:4–5) in its two literal senses: the light portion of the light/dark cycle and the whole light/dark cycle. Second, yom is used with “evening” and “morning.” Everywhere these two words are used in the Old Testament, either together or separately and with or without yom in the context, they always mean a literal evening or morning of a literal day. Third, yom is modified with a number: one day, second day, third day, etc., which everywhere else in the Old Testament indicates literal days. Fourth, yom is defined literally in Genesis 1:14 in relation to the heavenly bodies. [More About The Meaning of “Day” in Genesis 1. BELOW]

    The Genealogies Of Genesis 5 And 11 Make It Clear That The Creation Days Happened Only About 6,000 Years Ago. It is transparent from the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 (which give very detailed chronological information, unlike the clearly abbreviated genealogy in Matthew 1 and other chronological information in the Bible that the Creation Week took place only about 6,000 years ago.

    Exodus 20:9–11 Blocks All Attempts To Fit Millions Of Years Into Genesis 1. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:9-11).

    This passage gives the reason for God’s command to Israel to work six days and then take a Sabbath rest. Yom is used in both parts of the commandment. If God meant that the Jews were to work six days because He created over six long periods of time, He could have said that using one of three indefinite Hebrew time words. He chose the only word that means a literal day, and the Jews understood it literally (until the idea of millions of years developed in the early nineteenth century). For this reason, the day-age view or framework hypothesis must be rejected. The gap theory or any other attempt to put millions of years before the six days are also false because God says that in six days He made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. So He made everything in those six literal days and nothing before the first day.

    Noah’s Flood Washes Away Millions Of Years. The evidence in Genesis 6–9 for a global catastrophic flood is overwhelming. For example, the Flood was intended to destroy not only all sinful people but also all land animals and birds and the surface of the earth, which only a global flood could accomplish. The Ark’s purpose was to save two of every kind of land animal and bird (and seven of some) to repopulate the earth after the Flood. The Ark was totally unnecessary if the Flood was only local. People, animals, and birds could have migrated out of the flood zone before it occurred, or the zone could have been populated from creatures outside the area after the Flood. The catastrophic nature of the Flood is seen in the nonstop rain for at least 40 days, which would have produced massive erosion, mud slides, hurricanes, etc. The Hebrew words translated “the fountains of the great deep burst open” (Genesis 7:11) clearly point to tectonic rupturing of the earth’s surface in many places for 150 days, resulting in volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Noah’s Flood would produce exactly the kind of complex geological record we see worldwide today: thousands of feet of sediments clearly deposited by water and later hardened into rock and containing billions of fossils. If the year-long Flood is responsible for most of the rock layers and fossils, then those rocks and fossils cannot represent the history of the earth over millions of years, as evolutionists claim.

    Jesus Was A Young-Earth Creationist. Jesus consistently treated the miracle accounts of the Old Testament as straightforward, truthful, historical accounts (e.g., creation of Adam, Noah and the Flood, Lot and his wife in Sodom, Moses and the manna, and Jonah in the fish). He continually affirmed the authority of Scripture over men’s ideas and traditions (Matthew 15:1–9). In Mark 10:6 we have the clearest (but not the only) statement showing that Jesus was a young-earth creationist. He teaches that Adam and Eve were made at the “beginning of creation,” not billions of years after the beginning, as would be the case if the universe were really billions of years old. So, if Jesus was a young-earth creationist, then how can His faithful followers have any other view?

Adam: Also Note that The Bible tells us that Adam was created on the sixth day and lived through days six and seven. If each of these days was equivalent to a thousand or a million years, Adam could not have  died when he was 930 years old as Scripture says he did.

 

The “Days” of Genesis 1
Excerpt from Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?
by Ken Ham. September 27, 2007

What does the Bible tell us about the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1? A word can have more than one meaning, depending on the context. For instance, the English word “day” can have perhaps 14 different meanings. For example, consider the following sentence: “Back in my grandfather’s day, it took 12 days to drive across the country during the day.”

Here the first occurrence of “day” means “time” in a general sense. The second “day,” where a number is used, refers to an ordinary day, and the third refers to the daylight portion of the 24-hour period. The point is that words can have more than one meaning, depending on the context.

To understand the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1, we need to determine how the Hebrew word for “day,” yom, is used in the context of Scripture. Consider the following:

    A typical concordance will illustrate that yom can have a range of meanings: a period of light as contrasted to night, a 24-hour period, time, a specific point of time, or a year.

    A classic, well-respected Hebrew-English lexicon [8] (a dictionary) has seven headings and many subheadings for the meaning of yom—but it defines the creation days of Genesis 1 as ordinary days under the heading “day as defined by evening and morning.”

    A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used with each of the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

    Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with a number 359 times, and each time it means an ordinary day. [9] Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? [10]

    Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning” [11] 23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? [12]

    In Genesis 1:5, yom occurs in context with the word “night.” Outside of Genesis 1, “night” is used with yom 53 times, and each time it means an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? Even the usage of the word “light” with yom in this passage determines the meaning as ordinary day. [13]

    The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.” [14] Adding a number here would be nonsensical. Clearly, in Exodus 20:11, where a number is used with “days,” it unambiguously refers to six earth-rotation days.

    There are words in Biblical Hebrew (such as olam or qedem) that are very suitable for communicating long periods of time, or indefinite time, but none of these words are used in Genesis 1. [15] Alternatively, the days or years could have been compared with grains of sand if long periods were meant.

Dr. James Barr (Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University), who himself does not believe Genesis is true history, nonetheless admitted as far as the language of Genesis 1 is concerned that

    So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s Flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. [16] [PLACE IN TEXT]

     

End Notes

8) F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1951, 398. 

9) Some say that Hosea 6:2 is an exception to this because of the figurative language. However, the Hebrew idiomatic expression used, “After two days ... in the third day,” meaning “in a short time,” makes sense only if “day” is understood in its normal sense.

10) J. Stambaugh, The days of creation: a semantic approach, TJ 5(1):70–78, April 1991. Available online at www.answersingenesis.org/go/days. 

11) The Jews start their day in the evening (sundown followed by night), obviously based on the fact that Genesis begins the day with the “evening.”

12) Stambaugh, The days of creation: a semantic approach, 75. 

13) Ibid., 72.

14) Ibid., 72–73. 

15) Stambaugh, The days of creation: a semantic approach, 73–74; R. Grigg, How long were the days of Genesis 1? Creation 19(1):23–25, 1996. Available online at
www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i1/days.asp.

16) J. Barr, personal letter to David Watson, April 23, 1984.

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