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The idea that the six “days” of creation referenced in Genesis do not refer to 24-hour days has been traced back to St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.). In Augustine’s De Genesi ad Litteram, Augustine proposed the “days” referenced in Genesis could not be literal 24-hour days because Genesis itself stated the sun was not created until the fourth creation “day” (more>>) In The City of God Augustine stated: “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive.” [See, Augustine, The City of God, Book 11, chap.7]
Since then, some Christian apologists and theologians have developed the view that each of the “days” referenced in Genesis 1 were intended to refer to long periods of time, rather than 24-hour periods of time. This is now commonly referred to as the Day-Age View.
Dr. Hugh Ross is perhaps the most well-known, present-day proponent of the Day-Age View of the Genesis Creation Account. Hugh Rossis an astrophysicist with a B.S in physics as well as a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in astronomy. Post-doctorally, Ross served as a research fellow at CalTech and later founded Reasons to Believe, an apologetics ministry “devoted to integrating science and faith and to demonstrating how the latest science affirms our faith in the God of the Bible.” (www.reasons.org).
In Ross’ testimonial YouTube videos (here>>), Ross (who grew up in a non-religious environment) shares how his studies in science convinced him the universe was brought into existence by “something” that transcends the universe and he describes how he came to believe that “something” was a “Someone” — the transcendent God revealed in the Bible.
Hugh Ross expresses a firm belief that all of Scripture (special revelation) is infallible and inerrant; however, he also believes God speaks inerrantly through the facts of His creation (general revelation). Ross maintains that just as men can errantly interpret the facts revealed in nature, so too, men can errantly interpret Scripture.
In response to allegations of YECs that he elevates science over Scripture, Ross asserts that “[t]ruth, by definition, is information that is free of contradiction and error” and “[o]ne revelation of God’s truth cannot be held as inferior or superior to another.” Accordingly, Ross concludes that where there is an apparent conflict between science and Scripture, “we have no reason to reject the facts of nature or the Bible’s words. Rather, we have reason to reexamine our interpretations, because the facts of nature and Scripture will always agree” when both are correctly interpreted (emphasis added). [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 89 (2004)]
In Ross’ view, since science has demonstrated the implausibility that everything in the universe came into existence in six consecutive 24-hour days (144 hours), many people reject the Bible without seriously considering its message because they have not been presented with any interpretation of the Genesis creation account, other than the six consecutive 24-hour day view, i.e., the YEC view (more>>). [See, Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 42 (1994); Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 38 (2004)]
YEC Rebuttal — In Practice, Ross Elevates Science Over Scripture: Although Ross claims to defend the Bible against any error, many YECs contend that, in practice, Ross imposes secular “disciplines of scholarship” over the Bible, i.e., he interprets scripture in an unnatural way to fit within the “alleged facts of nature” and thereby puts “scripture below science.” [Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pg. 33 (2004)]
YEC Rebuttal — Scientists Have Misinterpreted the Data: In the YEC view, scientists who estimate the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe 13.7 billion years old have misinterpreted the scientific data because they have not considered the effects the global flood described in Genesis 6-8 had on Earth’s geologic formations nor have they considered the fact that, after the Fall, nature began to degenerate. [See, John Morris, The Young Earth, pg. 39 (1994); Ken Ham, The New Answers Book, “Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days? (2007)]
For further relevant discussion on issues of interpretation of the record of Scripture and the record of nature, see the following:
Based on the original ancient Hebrew language in which Genesis was written, Day-Age Creationists propose the “days” referred to in the Genesis Creation Account, do not refer to six 24-hour days but to long, yet definite, periods of time. This proposal is based on the fact that the original Hebrew word “yom“ (which has been translated “day” in English) can also be literally translated as a long, yet finite, period of time.
The reason why “yom“ can be translated as either a 24-hour day or a long period of time is because biblical Hebrew contained a very limited vocabulary. “Whereas biblical Hebrew has a vocabulary of under 3,100 words (not including proper nouns), English words number over 4,000,000. The disparity is even greater for nouns.” [Hugh Ross & Gleason Archer, The Genesis Debate, pg. 125 (2001)] Consequently, many ancient Hebrew words (including “yom“) had multiple meanings.
The Hebrew word “yom” (which is translated into English as “day”) has several literal meanings in Hebrew including:
“(a) sunrise to sunset [a portion of a 24-hour day];
(b) sunset to sunset [a 24-hour day];
(c) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (anywhere from weeks to a year to several years to an age or epoch).
[Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 46 (1994)]
The arguments for and against the Hebrew word “yom” being translated as a long, yet definite, period of time are delineated below.
Likewise, the Hebrew words “ereb” and “bouqer” (aka boqer) used in the phrase “and was “ereb’ [evening] and was boquer‘ [morning] — day [or nth day or the X day] (see, Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23 & 31) have broader meanings than “morning” and “evening” have in English.
The Hebrew word “ereb” (translated into English as “evening”) can also be literally translated as a) sunset, b) night, c) in the evening, d) at evening, e) at the turn of evening or f) between two evenings. Likewise, the Hebrew word “boquer” (translated into English as “morning”) can be literally translated as a) the dawn, b) end of darkness, c) the coming of dawn, d) beginning of day, e) all day, f) in the morning, g) bright joy after night. [See, Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 73 (2004) citing to Brown, Driver & Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, pgs. 787-788, 133-134 (1997); Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pgs. 137, 652 (1979) and Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1:125, 2:694 (1980)].
Additionally, the unique characteristics of the evening and morning phrase and because the time between evening and morning is when a worker rests, many scholars who do not hold a YEC View propose the phrase was simply signaling the end of a “yom“, regardless of how long the “yom” was. The issues surrounding the proper interpretation of the evening and morning phrase repeated in Genesis 1 are outlined below.
Based on the alternative literal meanings of the words used in the original Hebrew text, Day-Age Creationists propose the Genesis Creation Account reveals God created the heavens, the earth and all life on Earth in six unequal, yet finite, periods of time. Nevertheless, Day-Age Creationists, including Hugh Ross, adamantly maintain all the facts set forth in Genesis 1 and 2 are true historical facts, specifically including God’s fiat miracle creation of all life culminating in the creation of man on Day 6. They further maintain the Day-Age interpretation of the biblical creation account is compellingly consistent with what scientists have learned about the beginning of the universe, the history of the earth and the advent of life on Earth. [See, Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (2004) and Hugh Ross, Creator and the Cosmos (1991)]
Nine Proffers of Support for the Contention
that “Yom“ (Translated “Day“) in Genesis 1 Does Not
Refer to a 24-Hour Period of Time
OECs proffer the following nine (9) arguments in support of the proposition that each creation “yom“ (translated into English as “day”) does not refer to a 24-hour period: [NOTE: The responses YECs offer to each of the following proffers are included in the following linked articles]
One of the other literal meanings of the Hebrew word “yom“ is a long, yet definite, period of time more>>
- On several occasions, the Bible uses the word “yom“ to refer to a period of time other than a 24-hour period more>>
- Under the YEC View the sun wasn’t created until Day 4; therefore, even under a YEC View, Days 1-3 could not have been 24-hour days more>>
- In Genesis 2:4, the author of Genesis uses “yom“ to refer to multiple generations, not 24 hours more>>
- Since the 7th “Day” (yom) is continuing (i.e., God is still at rest from His creative works), it is unfair to insist that Days 1-6 are limited to a 24-hour meaning more>>
- Too many things occurred on the 6th “yom“ for it to be limited to a 24-hour period more>>
- Genesis 2:8-9 indicates God used a natural process of growth in the Garden of Eden which would have taken longer than 24 hours more>>
- If Day 6 was only 24 hours long, there wouldn’t have been a need to put Adam in the Garden for the purpose of tending the garden as indicated in Genesis 2:15-17 more>>
- Psalm 90:4 says God’s days are not as man’s days more>>
YEC Objections to Interpreting “Yom”
as Anything Other than a 24-Hour Period
In addition to the YEC objections referenced in the discussions linked to the preceding section (here>>), YECs offer the following additional objections to interpreting the word “yom“ as anything other than a 24-hour period. [NOTE: The responses OECs offer to each of the following objections are included in the following linked articles]
- If the “days” of creation were long periods of time, the author of Genesis would have used a word other than “yom” more>>
- Exodus 20:11 establishes each “yom“ in Genesis 1 refers to a 24-hour period more>>
- Genesis 1:5 defines “yom“ as the light period of a day, not a long period of time more>>
- Scripture says God created Instantaneously, not over billions of years more>>
- If the “days” in Genesis are not 24-hour days, there is no way to know how long the days were more>>
Each creation day (“yom“) concludes with the phrase: “And was evening and was morning (wayehi ‘ereb wayehi boqer) — Day X [or “NthDay” or “the Nth Day”].”
Because this exact phrase only occurs six times in the Old Testament and all six times are in Genesis 1 (Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, 1:19, 1:23and 1:31), other Old Testament passages cannot be examined to determine the exact meaning of the phrase. However, based on the following five reasons, OECs such as Hugh Ross contend the phrase simply indicates each creation “yom” (translated “day” in English) had a definite starting and stopping point and does not require a YEC 24-hour day interpretation. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 65-66 (1994)] [NOTE: The responses YECs make to each of the following arguments are included in the linked articles]
The “… and was evening and was morning” phrase was not used in ancient Hebrew to delineate a 24-hour day more>>
- The “…and was evening and was morning” phrase was used to mark the end of each creation period, regardless of its length more>>
- The Hebrew words “ereb” (evening) and “boqer” (morning) have broader meanings than “evening” and “morning” do in English more>>
- The “… and was evening and was morning” phrase is an idiomatic expression which can denote a long period of time more>>
- The unusual syntax of the “… and was evening and was morning” phrase indicates an unusual usage more >>
- The structure of the evening and morning phrase is well-adapted to setting forth a sequential pattern rather than delimiting units of time such as 24-hours more>>
Introduction to Hugh Ross’
Presentation of the Day-Age View
(Three Important Preliminary Points)
Hugh Ross’ presentation of the Day-Age View of creation is premised on three important preliminary points:
The text can only be correctly understood if it is interpreted from the intended frame of reference skip to>>
- Genesis 1 does not purport to record every act of God’s creation; rather, only certain highlights of God’s creation are recorded skip to>>
- Careful attention must be paid to the different verbs used/not used in Genesis 1 to describe God’s creative works skip to>>
Preliminary Point No. 1: The Text Can Only be Correctly Understood if it is Interpreted from the Intended Frame of Reference
Ross maintains both the proper exegesis of Scripture (including the creation account) and the proper application of the scientific methodrequire the proper frame of reference be established before the text or data is interpreted.
As discussed in more detail below, Ross proposes the frame of reference for interpreting Genesis 1:1 is from “the heavens” that make up “the entire physical universe to the surface of planet Earth.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd. Ed., pg. 19 (2001)]
However, beginning in Genesis 1:2, the frame of reference shifts and from that point forward, Genesis 1 is to be interpreted from the vantage point of an observer on the surface of the earth where the Spirit of God was “hovering.”
Preliminary Point No. 2: Genesis 1 Doesn’t Purport to Record Every Act of God’s Creation; Rather, Only Certain Highlights of God’s Creation are Recorded
In Ross’ view, Genesis 1 does not purport to record every act of God’s creation.
For example, with respect to God’s creation of animals, Ross proposes Day 5 only records God’s creation of the specific types of animals: 1) water-dwelling “sheres” (lower vertebrates); 2) “nephesh” (animals which manifest mind, will and emotions); and, 3) “Op” (birds). Likewise, Day 6 only records God’s creation of: 1) “behema” (long-legged quadruped livestock); 2) “remes” (short-legged land mammals, e.g., rodents) and 3) “chayya” (long-legged quadruped wild animals difficult to tame).
As maintained by Ross, the original Hebrew text simply does not reference God’s creation of every type of creature (e.g., nothing is mentioned about insects, dinosaurs and many other animals). Rather, “Genesis 1 reports only a handful of creation events” and the recorded “dozen or so ‘miracles’, or divine interventions, by no means tell the whole creation story.” “God gives us just the briefest highlights of His creative activity on Earth” which reflects “God’s perspective on what is most important for all human generations to know.” “[God] does not seek to bury us under a mountain of data that might distract us from His main themes: communicating His plan for our redemption and securing forever all that is good against the presence, and even the possibility, of evil.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pg. 28 (2001)]
Referencing Psalm 104:27-30, Ross further maintains that multiple extinctions occurred in Earth’s developmental history and God created and re-created different species at different times to suit Earth’s changing environment. Ross also proposes man was created at the end of God’s creative works so man would get the maximum benefit of the abundance of biological deposits that developed over Earth’s history which has provided man with topsoil, coal, gas and oil. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pgs. 42-43, 53, 57-58 (2001)]
Preliminary Point No. 3: Careful Attention Must be Paid to the Different Verbs Used/Not Used in Genesis 1 to Describe God’s Creative Works
Ross notes the author of Genesis 1 uses three different verbs (bara, asa and haya) to record God’s creative acts and he further maintains that a correct understanding of the Genesis Creation Account requires one to carefully consider the different meanings of the Hebrew verbs the author used/did not use to record the creation account:
The Hebrew verb “bara” refers to divine activity of “bringing into existence something new, something that did not exist before.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pg. 18 (2001)] YECs J. Ligon Duncan and David Hall agree with this definition. [See, J. Ligon Duncan & David Hall, The Genesis Debate, pg. 61, fn. 21 citing to Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pgs. 132-133 (1941)]
As noted by Ross, the author of Genesis 1 limited the use of the verb “bara“ to three instances:
Genesis 1:1 which records the creation of the heavens and the earth (i.e., the “shamayim we ha’ erets“) which Ross asserts refers to “the entire physical universe of galaxies, stars, planets, etc.” [See also, Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One — Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation, pg. 17 (2004); Vine, Unger & White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, pg. 110 (1996)]
Genesis 1:20-23 which records the creation of the first soulish animals (the nephesh)
The Hebrew verb “asa” means to make, manufacture, fabricate or construct. Ross proposes that when the author of Genesis 1 uses the verb “asa“, the author was indicating God designed and built something new out of something that had already been created. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pg. 34 (2001)] Usage of “asa“ in Genesis 1 includes:
Genesis 1:7 — So God made [asa] the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it”;
Genesis 1:16 — “God made [asa] two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made (asa) the stars”;
“Haya” is a Hebrew verb which means “to exist; to be; to happen; or to come to pass.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pgs. 28-29 (2001)]
Usage of “haya” in Genesis 1 includes:
Genesis 1:3 — “Let there be [haya] light”;
Genesis 1:6 — “Let there be [haya] an expanse between the waters to separate water from water”;
YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Ross’ Approach Renders the Genesis Creation Account Meaningless and Deceptive: YECs, such as Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor, believe Ross’ approach makes the Genesis 1 creation account (which they consider to clearly record six chronological and consecutive 24-hour days) meaningless. They further assert Ross’ approach means God was misleading the readers of Genesis by including certain specifics in the account and leaving others out. [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 88-89 (1994)]
OEC Reply No. 1 — The Additional Details Provided in Genesis 2 Make it Clear to the Reader that Genesis 1 Was Not Intended to be an Exhaustive Inventory of God’s Creation: As pointed out by Perry Phillips (a proponent of the Intermittent-Day View more>>), if the reader of Genesis was limited to Chapter 1, it would appear that “man and woman were created at the same time.” However, chapter 2 of Genesis provides further insight into the creation of man (see, Gen. 2:1-25). [Perry Phillips, “Are the Days of Genesis Longer that 24 Hours? The Bible Says, ‘Yes’”, pg. 3 (1991)] The additional facts reported in Genesis 2 clearly indicate to the reader that Chapter 1 was only intended to be an overview of God’s acts of creation.
With the above three important preliminary points in mind (here>>), the following is an overview of Ross’ Presentation of the Day-Age View presented in three parts:
|PART I — Genesis 1:1
God Creates the Universe (All Matter, Energy and Space-TimeDimensions) skip to >>
PART II — Genesis 1:1-2
Day (Yom) 1 — Gen.1:3-4
Day (Yom) 2 — Gen.1:6-8
Day (Yom) 4 — Gen.1:14-19
Day (Yom) 5 — Gen.1:20-23
Day (Yom) 6: — Gen.1:24-27, 31
God Creates the Universe
(All Matter, Energy and Space-Time Dimensions)
“In the beginning God created (bara) the
heavens and the earth (hasamayim we ha’ erets).”
Genesis 1:1 says God created (bara) the universe (the hasamayim we ha’ erets) at a finite point in the past (in the beginning). In Ross’ view, Genesis 1:1 sets the vantage point from which that verse is to be interpreted; namely, from the point of view of an observer in “the heavens”.
By using the Hebrew verb “bara” (translated “created”), the author refers to divine activity of bringing something new into existence that did not exist before. [See, The Genesis Question, pg. 18] Additionally, whenever the terms “shamayim” and “erets” are used together (as in Gen. 1:1), it has a unique meaning in Hebrew which refers to “the totality of the physical universe.”
From a scientific perspective, the creation of the “hashamayim we ha’ erets” referenced in Genesis 1:1 refers to God’s creation of “all the matter and energy of the universe, plus all the space-time dimensions associated with matter and energy.” [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 6-7] This would include the matter and energy the stars (including the sun) were made of.
The claim that God brought the entirety of the physical universe (all matter, energy and space-time dimensions) into existence at a finitepoint in the past (in the beginning) means God exists independent of the physical universe, i.e., God transcends the universe.
As explained by Ross (an astrophysicist), the biblical claim of a transcendent cause of the universe has been “resoundingly confirmed” by scientific research surrounding Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which now ranks as the “most exhaustively tested and firmly established principle in all of physics.” [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 6-7] Most notably, the space-time theorems of general relativity scientifically establish that if the universe contains any mass (which it undoubtedly does) and if general relativity accurately describes the dynamics of the universe (which test after test has proven to be the case), then space and time as well as all matter and energy must have been brought into existence by a causal agent whose existence transcends space and time. As noted by Ross, this matches perfectly with the transcendent Creator described in Genesis 1:1. [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 6-7]
Ross further notes the Bible’s description of a transcendent Creator of the universe sets it apart from other professed “divine revelations” which erroneously report God (or gods) created from within space and time. [See, Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 6-7; Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 18]
The Proper Frame of Reference is Established,
the Initial Conditions of Planet Earth are Described and
a Possible Hint to the Creation of the First Life Forms is Given
“Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep, and
the Spirit of God was hovering (rahap) over the waters.”
The Proper Frame of Reference is Established
Ross proposes a careful reading of Genesis 1:1-2 demonstrates Genesis 1:1 was intended to be interpreted from the point of view of “the heavens” that make up “the entire physical universe to the surface of planet Earth.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd. Ed., pg. 19 (2001)] However, in Genesis 1:2 the frame of reference shifts and from that point forward, the frame of reference from which the creation account is to be interpreted is “from the surface of the waters where the text states the ‘Spirit of God was hovering.’” [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pgs. 149-151 (1994)]Robert Newman and Perry Phillips (proponents of the Intermittent-Day View more>>) similarly propose Genesis 1 describes what the various creation events would have looked like to a personal earthbound observer and not what the creation would have looked comparable to someone in the heavenlies. [Robert Newman & Perry Phillips, Genesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pgs. 58, 63 (2007)]
Ross maintains the failure of YECs to establish the proper frame of reference from which the author of Genesis was describing the creation events is one of the reasons YECs misinterpret Genesis 1 to say the sun wasn’t created until Day 4. In Ross’ view, Genesis 1:1 reports God created “the heavens” (all the stars including the sun) “in the beginning”. In Genesis 1:2, the frame of reference shifts from that of an observer in the “heavens” to that of an earthbound observer where the Spirit of God was “hovering.” Because of that shift in vantage point, the author doesn’t report the appearance of the sun until Day 4 because the sun did not become visible to an earthbound observer until Day 4 when Earth’s early, dense atmosphere had sufficiently cleared to permit the sun to be seen as a distinct object of light. Just as the sun is still not distinctly visible to an earthbound observer on a heavily overcast day, so too an earthbound observer wouldn’t have been able to observe the sun (created “in the beginning”) as a distinct object in the heavens through Earth’s early, dense atmosphere until the atmosphere had been sufficiently cleared of interplanetary debris which Genesis 1:14-19 reports occurred on Day 4. (See further discussion re Creation Day 4 below)
YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Gen. 1:2 Does Not Establish a Different Interpretive Vantage Point than that Used in Gen. 1:1: “There is nothing within the biblical record that suggests Genesis 1:2 intends to direct the reader to some proper viewing reference.” And even if an earth-bound perspective was the proper frame of reference, the facts are not changed. [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 59-60 (1996)]
Earth’s Initial Conditions are Described
Genesis 1:2 correctly describes the four initial conditions of early earth — it was dark, covered with water and was formless and empty [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 21-25]:
Early Earth was Dark (Gen. 1:2): Light (i.e., electro-magnetic radiation which is the dominant form of energy) was initially created “in the beginning” when God created the universe. [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pg. 8] However, even though light existed in the universe, the surface of Earth was dark because thick layers of gas (hydrogen, helium, methane and ammonia), which were filled with interplanetary dust and debris, blocked the light from reaching the surface of the planet. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 25] This is consistent with Job 38:9 in which God says, “I made the clouds its [Earth’s] garment and wrapped it in thick darkness.”
Early Earth Was Covered with Water (Gen. 1:2): Studies of Earth’s oldest rocks confirm that water initially covered the entire surface of Planet Earth and land masses arose gradually as a result of volcanic activity and plate tectonics. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 25; Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pg. 9]
Early Earth was Formless and Empty (Gen. 1:2): Some of the reasons scientists know early Earth was formless and empty are as follows: 1) Large pieces of planetary debris consistently struck the surface of Earth preventing any life from surviving on the planet; 2)Because no light could penetrate the thick layers of gas and interplanetary debris, the photosynthesis necessary for the vast majority of all life forms to exist could not have occurred. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 25-28] The formlessness and emptiness of early earth “reflect the theme and context of the story: God’s preparation of Earth for life and God’s involvement in filling it with life.” [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pg. 9]
A Possible Hint of Creation of Early Life Forms
Genesis 1:2 says the “Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” The Hebrew word for “hovering” used in Genesis 1:2 is “rahap“ which appears only one other time in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 32:11, “rahap“ is used in reference to a female eagle stirring up her nest and “hovering over her young.” Citing to the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Ross notes that some linguists infer the Spirit’s “hovering over the waters” refers to the origin of life even before light was able to penetrate early Earth’s dense atmosphere. Ross notes that such an interpretation may be valid but he cautions that the “basis for drawing a firm conclusion seems insufficient.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 27]
Nevertheless, Ross suggests the use of the word “rahap” in Genesis 1:2 provides at least “a hint” that “God’s work of creating life on Earth may have begun before the first events recorded in the following six days of creation.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 27] .
Ross explains that this is consistent with Earth’s geology which demonstrates marine life arose before all other life forms as well as the fact that scientists have discovered some life-forms living around deep ocean vents can exist without photosynthesis. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question,pgs. 27-28] Ross notes the oldest fossils on Earth date back to 3.5 billion years and those fossils are of unicellular organisms found in sediments clearly identified as existing in a marine environment. He further notes that even these earliest forms of life appeared fully formed and were immediately performing chemically complex functions which is consistent with Genesis 1’s description of God’s creation. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 27-28]
After recording the universe was brought into existence by a transcendent Creator (Gen. 1:1), establishing the proper frame of reference from which the remainder of the Genesis Creation Account is to be understood (Gen. 1:2) and describing the initial conditions which existed on Planet Earth (Gen. 1:2), the author of Genesis 1 then sets forth a chronology of the highlights of God’s creative works on Planet Earth (Gen. 1:3-31):
CREATION OF LIGHT
(LIGHT IS SEPARATED FROM DARKNESS)
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
Genesis 1:3-4 (ASV)
The Hebrew verb used in the phrase, “Let there be light…” is “haya“ which means “to exist; to be; to happen; or to come to pass.” Notably, the verbs “bara“ (create), “asa“ (make) and “yasar“ (form) were not used. Ross maintains this is because Genesis 1:1 already reported God had previously created (“bara“) physical light (i.e., electro-magnetic radiation — the dominant form of energy) “in the beginning.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 28-29]
On Creation Day (Yom) One, light from the previously created sun (which was created “in the beginning” — Gen. 1:1) first became visible from the surface of Earth as Earth’s atmosphere changed from being opaque (dark) to translucent (where light could pass through as on a heavily overcast day). Because Earth’s atmosphere still wasn’t transparent, the sun and other stars were not distinctly visible from the surface of Earth as they still aren’t on overcast days). [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 29] However, with some sunlight now penetrating Earth’s atmosphere, an observer on the surface of Earth could detect a day/night cycle (light was now separated from darkness) and photosynthesis which is necessary to sustain life became possible. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 31] God called the light portion of the 24-hour cycle “day” (yom) and He called the dark period “night.”
As explained by Ross, Earth’s atmosphere was originally very dense because it was full of interplanetary debris. Although, the gravity of the Sun and Earth would have continued to thin Earth’s atmosphere by gravitationally drawing debris out of the atmosphere into their spheres, these gravitational influences alone do not account for Earth’s presently thin atmosphere. Scientists believe the solution lies with Earth’s moon which is extraordinary in many ways: E.g., it orbits a planet close to the Sun, it is relatively large in comparison to other moons, its material is younger than the material Earth is made of and its material is chemically distinct and lighter from that of Earth (even though most moons are made of the same material planets are made of).
Ross further maintains there is substantial evidence that about 4.25 billion years ago the moon was in contact (or near to contact) with Earth (which, notably, is the same date that moon rocks have been dated back to).
Based on such findings, Ross reports that scientists now believe a planetary body (at least the size of Mars) collided with Earth blasting almost all of Earth’s original atmosphere (filled with interplanetary debris) into space. Under the effects of gravity, the resulting debris cloud eventually pulled together to form the moon eventually leaving Earth with the thin, transparent atmosphere it has today which permits light to reach Earth’s surface without hindrance. The collision also increased the mass and density of Earth enough for it to gravitationally retain water vapor but not so much so as to hold onto harmful quantities of other chemicals such as ammonia and methane. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 29-31; see also, Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 10-11]
CREATION OF A STABLE WATER CYCLE
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,
and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament,
and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which
were above the firmament: And God called the firmament Heaven.
And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”
Genesis 1:6 8 (ASV)
In Ross’ view Genesis 1:6-8 is a description of God’s design and formation of Earth’s atmosphere as further described in Psalm 148:3-6which distinguishes the “highest heavens” from the “waters above the skies” and declares God “set them in place.” [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 34]
As noted by Ross, to support life a planet must not only permit photosynthesis to occur, but it must have a stable water cycle (condensation and precipitation). Ross states that both “raqia“ (the “expanse”) and “shamayim“ (the “sky”) refer to the visible atmospheric dome above the earth. “Shamayim“ specifically refers to the portion of the atmosphere where clouds form and move. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 34] Accordingly, as presented by Ross, Genesis 1:6-7’s description of God having “separated” or “divided” the water in the expanse accurately describes the formation of the troposphere (the atmospheric layer just above the ocean where clouds form) which is necessary for a stable water cycle to exist on Planet Earth.
Ross finds it quite telling that the author of Genesis 1 did not use the verb “bara“ (which means bringing something new into existence that did not exist before) in describing the separating or dividing of the waters in the firmament. Instead, the author used the verbs “haya“(which means “to be”) and “asa“ (which means make, manufacture, fabricate or construct). Such verb usage “suggests [God] carefully reordered or reshaped the chaotic waters that covered the Earth in Gen. 1:2 in new ways.” [See, Krista Bontrager, The Bigger Picture on Creation, pgs 50-51 (2008)]
Ross identifies the following characteristics a water cycle must have to be able to support life on Earth:
- There must be a system in which snow, ice and liquid water freely evaporate and then freely condense to fall back to Earth;
- Evaporation and precipitation must average between 25-60 liquid water inches per year and the snow and rain must condense in the right proportions;
- For advanced life to be supported by lower life-forms and a diversity of species, rainfall must vary from one geographical area to another;
- Rain must fall between 2″ – 600″ per year — not just for a few million years but for a few billion years;
- The sun’s luminosity cannot increase too rapidly or decrease too slowly or Earth would get too hot or too cold.
As explained by Ross, argues a number of environmental factors had to be exquisitely fine-tuned to allow Earth’s atmosphere to be transformed from being opaque (dark) to being translucent (heavily overcast) and to permit Earth to sustain a stable, life-supporting water cycle necessary to support life. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 31-34; see also, Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 10-11]
For more information on the fine-tuned characteristics that must exist for Earth to be capable of supporting life, go here.
DRY LAND EMERGES AND PLANT PRODUCTION BEGINS
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered
together unto one place, and let the dry land appear”: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the
waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good””
And God said, ‘Let the earth put forth (dasha) grass, herbs yielding seed, (and) fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so.’ And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.”
Genesis 1:9 13 (ASV)
Dry Land Emerges
Ross notes that the wording of Genesis 1:9-10 suggests Earth’s continents began as a single large land mass surrounded by the ocean. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 36] He further notes that this description is consistent with scientific findings. According to scientific investigation, after solid ground formed on the ocean floor of the earth, volcanic activity and plate tectonics began raising certain portions of the ocean floor and lowering other portions. A large body of the crust eventually rose (which scientists refer to as Pangea). During the first four billion years of Earth’s history, the landmass grew from 0% to 29%; however, for the last quarter-billion years, pieces of that super-continent (“Pangea”) have been splitting away and forming Earth’s seven present continents. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 35-36]
Although volcanic and plate tectonic activity has subsided, the rotation of the earth has simultaneously reduced the effect of wind and water erosion such that it is now believed the erosion rate will not gain enough of an advantage over volcanism and tectonics to completely wear down the continents. As noted by Ross, this is consistent with Psalm 104 which says water will never again cover the entire Earth. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 36]
Because at this point in Earth’s early history, the atmosphere was still translucent (heavily overcast) and not transparent as it is today, an observer on the surface of the planet would experience both light and dark portions of a day but would not be able to distinctly make out the sun, moon or stars. However, with some light penetrating the atmosphere, the process of photosynthesis would permit plants to begin transforming water and carbon into food (sugars, starches and fats). [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 35] During this time, gravitational forces exerted by the Sun, Earth and Moon would have continued to thin Earth’s atmosphere of interplanetary debris.
Plant Production Begins
The newly formed dry land made land vegetation possible. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 37-38] Again, Ross notes the verbs used in this passage. Here, the Hebrew verb used by the author is “dasha’” (translated “produce” or “put forth”) which has a broad meaning including: 1) that which arises from natural processes; 2) that which arises from divine miracle or 3) a combination of the two. Consequently, Ross maintains the text does not definitively reveal the extent to which God chose to employ/not employ natural processes and/or supernaturalprocesses. However, in Ross’ view, the evidence of the rapid extinction rate of plants (which have a very limited ability, if any, to develop into new species) implies supernatural processes were responsible for the major changes in plant species observed by scientist investigating plant history. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 41] Although botanists have reported that a few plants have developed new “species”, Ross notes the word “species” may be a misnomer because no plant “species” has arisen that is radically different from an already existing “species.” [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 41]
Ross further notes that although some scientists criticize the text for saying all vegetation (including fruit trees) was created on Day 3 (which is contrary to scientific findings), careful analysis of the Hebrew text reveals no such claim is made. This is because the words used in the text, “seed” (zera’),”trees” (‘es) and “fruit” (peri), have different meanings in English than they do in Hebrew:
- Zera’ (translated “seed”) means “semen” or “the embryos of any plant species.”
- ‘Es (translated “trees”) means “any large plant containing woody fiber” including “all large plants containing cellulose and could possibly refer to all larger-than-microscopic plants whose fibers provide a measure of stiffness.” See, Joshua 2:6 (‘es — stalks of flax); I Kings 4:33 (‘es — cedars and hyssop)
- Peri (translated “fruit”) means “the food and/or embryos produced by any living thing.”
As maintained by Ross, the Hebrew meanings of the words translated “seed”, “trees”, and “fruit” certainly “include the relatively primitive plant species scientists have identified as the first land vegetation.” [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 37] Archaeopteris (an extinct plant) was quite likely the dominant plant species that existed throughout the Devonian and post-Devonian eras (approx. 400 million years ago). Archaeopteris had vegetative features similar to living conifers and the spores produced by this plant are consistent with the Hebrew word zera’ (translated “seed”) used in Genesis 1. The first flowering plants (angiosperms) are thought to have arisen as early as 290 million years ago. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 37-38]
THE PREVIOUSLY CREATED HEAVENLY
LIGHTS BECAME DISTICTILY VISIBLE IN THE SKY
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven
to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and
for days and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light
upon the earth’: and it was so. And God made the two great lights; the greater light to
rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: (he made) the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth,
and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from
the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And there
was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.“
As explained by Ross, biblical Hebrew employs the three following verb types (rather than verb tenses as in English): 1) action already completed; 2) action not yet completed and 3) a command.
Ross notes that Genesis 1:16 uses the verb “‘asa” (translated “made”) which denotes action that has already been completed. Accordingly, Ross maintains verse 16 is a parenthetical note which states that some time before Day 4 God had already made (completed action) the stars and two great lights — one to govern the day (the sun) and the other to govern the night (the moon). In Ross’ view, the stars (including the sun) were made before Day 1 when God created the “shamayim wa’ erets“ whereas the “moon” could have been “made” during the first creation day. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 43-44]
From a scientific perspective, Ross explains the sun had to exist before Day 4 because the gravity of the sun is necessary to keep Earth in a stable orbit, to keep the Earth rotating and to provide the plants created on Day 3 with necessary warmth. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 44] There also is substantial evidence the moon was created after the Earth had been formed. As referenced above, scientists believe the moon formed after a celestial body (at least the size of Mars) collided with Earth. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 29-31]
After Earth’s atmosphere changed from being opaque (dark) to translucent, the sky would have resembled a heavy overcast day. Atmospheric constituents as well as the air temperature, air pressure, humidity and volcanic activity would have prevented any break in the cloud cover. The carbon dioxide level would have also been substantially higher than today which would have contributed to high humidity. All of these conditions are supported by the fossil record. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 41]
However, the development of the moon and changes in environmental conditions (e.g., stabilization of air temperature and pressure as well as plant consumption of carbon dioxide and a decrease in volcanic activity), would have eventually transformed Earth’s translucent atmosphere to a transparent atmosphere (like it is today). Additionally, as the rotation rate of Earth slowed, less sea-salt aerosol would have been produced which would have resulted in less cloud production. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 41]
As contended by Ross, YECs have misinterpreted Genesis 1 as saying the sun was created after the earth was created (more>>). Instead, Ross proposes a correct reading of Genesis 1 (which requires the correct frame of reference to be taken into account above>>) reveals the sun (and the other stars) were created anew (bara) “in the beginning” when “God created the heavens and the earth”; however, the sun, moon and stars did not become distinctly visible to an earthbound observer until Day 4. It was on Day 4 that God said the sun, moon and stars were to be “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” and the sun was to rule over the day and the moon was to rule over the night. Ross offers the following four arguments in support of this interpretation:
Argument No. 1 – Gen. 1:1 Says the Stars Were Created (Bara) “In the beginning….”
Genesis 1:1 states says, “In the beginning, God created [bara] the heavens and the earth [the hasamayim we ha’ erets].” Ross contends that when the two words (“shamayim” and “erets“) are used together, the phrase always refers to the entire physical universe of galaxies, stars, planets, etc. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 151 (1994) citing to Bruce Waltke, Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmology, pgs. 20, 25-26 (Portland, OR: Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1974] Accordingly, Ross proposes that Genesis 1:1 records all the stars in the universe (including the sun) were created anew [bara] “in the beginning” when “God created the heavens and the earth [the hasamayim we ha’ erets].”
Argument No. 2 – Consistent with Scientific Findings, Job 38:8-9 Describes Early Earth Being Dark from Being Wrapped in a Thick, Dense Atmosphere
Job 38:8-9 describes Earth as initially being wrapped in dark clouds: “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness?” (emphasis added). Ross explains this description is very consistent with what scientists have learned about the formation of Earth’s dense atmosphere which, over time, was transformed from being opaque (all light blocked out) to being translucent (like a heavily overcast day) and finally to becoming transparent (like a sunny day). Accordingly, Ross maintains Genesis 1:16 reports that on Day 4, light from the previously created sun, moon and stars were visible from the point of view of an earthbound observer because Earth’s atmosphere had become sufficiently transparent. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pgs. 149-151 (1994)]
Argument No. 3 – The Verb “Asa” (Used to Describe the Two Great Lights in Gen. 1:16) Connotes Action Already Completed
Genesis 1:16 reports God made [asa] two great lights — the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.” Hebrew verbs such as “asa” do not have parallel English verb tenses (e.g., past tense, future tense, perfect tense) because there are no verb tenses in biblical Hebrew, only two “aspects”: 1) The imperfect aspect which refers to completed action and 2) the perfect aspect which refers to incompleted action.
The verb “asa” used in Genesis 1:16 (translated into English as “made”) is a Hebrew verb which connotes completed action. [See also, Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One — Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation, pg. 104 (San Jose, R. Whitefield, 2004)] Consequently, as explained by Gleason Archer (a renown expert in the Hebrew language), Genesis 1:16 which is usually translated in the simple past tense as “God made”, “is better translated in English as “God had made the two great luminaries, etc.” This is because “Hebrew has no special form for the pluperfect tense but uses the perfect tense, or the conversive imperfect as here, to express either the English past or the English pluperfect, depending on the context.” [Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pg. 61 (1982)]
Accordingly, Ross asserts the author’s use of the word “asa” (which indicates completed action) is further evidence the text states the sun, moon, and stars were created some time before Day 4, i.e., either 1) on the third day, 2) on the second day, 3) on the first day or4) in the beginning (Gen. 1:1). Ross contends the most logical choice is that the heavenly bodies were created “in the beginning” because Genesis 1:1 says that “in the beginning, God created the ‘shamayim we ha’ erets’ (i.e., the heavens and the earth)” which would include the “the entire physical universe of galaxies, stars, planets, etc. [See also, Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One — Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation, pg. 17 (2004); Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, pg. 110 (1996)] Consequently, Ross proposes Genesis 1:16 is a parenthetical note stating that at some time in the past (i.e., before Day 4) God had already made (completed action) the stars and two great lights — one to govern the day (the sun) and the other to govern the night (the moon). In Ross’ view, the stars (including the sun) were made before Day 1 when God created the “shamayim wa’ erets” whereas the moon could have been “made” during the first creation day. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pgs. 43-44 (2001)]
Argument No. 4: The Authors Failure to Use the Verb “Bara” Indicates, the Sun was Not Created Anew on Day (Yom) 4
Ross also finds it significant that in Genesis 1:16 the author of Genesis 1 did not use the verb “bara” which means to create something that did not exist before. As pointed out by Ross, the author’s use of “bara” in Genesis 1 was limited to the following three instances: 1) Genesis 1:1 — creation of the entire physical universe (all matter, energy and space-time dimensions); 2) Genesis 1:20-23 — creation of the first soulish animals (nephesh) and 3) Genesis 1:26-27 — creation of the first creatures with a spirit (Adam and Eve). Ross further notes that in describing Day 4, the author did not use the verb “haya” which means “exist, be, happen, or come to pass” which the author did use in Genesis 1:3 in describing the appearance of light on Day 1. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd. Ed., pgs. 17, 34, 49, 54-55 (2001)]
In sum, based on the above, Ross proposes that “in the beginning” God created (bara) the sun, moon and stars but it wasn’t until Day (Yom) 4 that Earth’s atmosphere had been transformed from being opaque (i.e., dark) to being translucent (i.e. heavily overcast) to being sufficiently transparent (like it is today) for the objects to be distinctly visible through Earth’s thinning atmosphere from the vantage point of an earthbound observer. [See, Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pgs. 149-151 (1994) citing to Bruce Waltke, Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmogony, pgs. 20, 25-26 (1974)] In Ross’ view, although the day/night cycle (as presently exists when the sky is overcast) began on the Day 1, it was not until Day 4 when the sun, moon and stars became distinctly visible to an earthbound observer when God commanded the sun, moon and stars to “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (see, Genesis 1:14-19).
YEC Rebuttal — The Sun Wasn’t Created Until Day 4; Another Light Source Produced Day/Night Cycles for Days 1 – 3: YECs maintain God created the sun on Day 4 and that the light which existed before that time, as referenced in Gen. 1:3-4, was from some other light source just as will occur in the New Jerusalem in the future (see Revelation 21:23) [See, Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pg. 31 (2004); J. Ligon Duncan & David Hall, The Genesis Debate, pg. 52 (2001)] In response to Ross’ argument that the author of Genesis1:16 meant to convey the sunhad already been created and merely appeared on Day 4, Vern Poythress contends Genesis 1:16 says God “made” the lights, not that he caused them to appear. [Vern Poythress, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, pg. 150 (1999)] YECs further maintain that if that is what the author of Genesis intended to convey, he would have used the word “ra’ah“ (which means to appear) as was used in Genesis 1:9 in which the text states: “And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear (ra’ah).” [See, Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pg. 143 (2004)]
OEC Reply — In Revelation there is No Night as Exists in the YEC View on Days 1-3: As pointed out by Meredith Kline (a proponent of the Literary Framework View more>>) Revelation 21 does say there will be light from the glory of God (and not the sun), but this occurs simultaneously with the absence of night, which was not the case on Creation Days 1 – 3.
CREATION OF LOWER VERTEBRATES & SOULISH ANIMALS
And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,
and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.’ And God created
the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters
swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it
was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and
fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’
And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.”
Genesis 1:20 23 (ASV)
Ross notes that Genesis 1:20-23 only references three types of animals:
- Water-dwelling “sheres”: swarms of small animals (e.g., amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, fish — lower vertebrates); however, the text does not specify which kinds of “sheres” appeared in the water on the fifth day.
- “Nephesh”: Animals which manifest mind, will and emotions (e.g., mammals), but the text does not specify which kinds of “nephesh“were created on Day 5;
- “Op”: Birds
Water-dwelling “sheres” are the most primitive creatures which require the visibility of heavenly bodies to regulate their biological clocks. With the sun, moon and stars now visible due to the thinning of Earth’s atmosphere, these “sheres” could survive. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 47] Because in Ross’ view Genesis 1 does not provide the timing of God’s creation of every species or even every phyla (see above), Genesis 1 says nothing about the creation of insects, dinosaurs, bipedal primates and many other species. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pgs. 28, 48-49 (2001)]
Genesis 1 has been criticized by some paleontologists for placing the introduction of sea mammals on Day 5 before the introduction of land mammals on Day 6 because the fossil record reveals the opposite (i.e., land animals appeared before sea mammals). However, Ross notes that a careful reading of the text removes the bases of any such criticism based on the following two points:
- Day 5 only mentions sea mammals generically and Day 6 is narrowly focused on three specialized kinds of land mammals which were designed to cohabit with humans and are of relatively recent origin. When the other land mammals were introduced is not revealed in the text; therefore, data from the record of nature can be used to fill in this information.
- The first sea mammals date much earlier than initially thought. Four extinct whales have now been dated to 48-52 million years ago which eliminate any credible challenge to the placement of the first sea mammals on Day 5.
YEC Objection No. 1: Ross Has Misinterpreted the Meaning of “Nephesh“ to Accommodate His Understanding of the Fossil Record: Ross asserts the creatures which Genesis 1:2–23 says were created on Day 5 were limited to three types of animals: 1)water-dwelling “sheres“ (e.g., amphibians, fish, i.e., lower vertebrates); 2) “nephesh“ (soulish creatures) and 3) “op” (birds). Ross further asserts the text does not say which specific kinds of “sheres“, “nephesh“ and “ops“ were created on Day 5. Ross proposes the “nephesh’ are those creatures which “manifest capacities of intellect, volition, and emotion — what ancient Hebrew would call ‘soulish’ attributes.” Ross concludes that “nephesh“ “can only mean birds and mammals” since these are the only creatures which display soulish attributes. [Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pg. 18 (1983) citing to Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2:587-591 (1980); see also, Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 152 (1994)]
Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor object to Ross’ definition of “nephesh” and maintain “nephesh“ has a wider range of usage than that proposed by Ross. In their view, “nephesh” is basically the word for “life”; therefore, “[n]ephesh does not refer to only birds and mammals.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 86 (1996)] Van Bebber and Taylor propose Ross is merely translating “nephesh“ in a limited way to “attempt to harmonize a conflict between Scripture and Ross‘ understanding of the fossil record….” and a time line that is consistent with evolutionary theory. Van Bebber and Taylor maintain that “[h]armonization is not possible.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 89 (1996)]
OEC Rebuttal No. 1 — YEC Expert, James Stambaugh, Agrees with Ross’ Assertion that “Nephesh” are Soulish Creatures and Do Not Include All Animals: James Stambaugh, a YEC himself and to whom YEC Jonathan Sarfati cites to in his book Refuting Compromise, has stated the following:
“…. [T]he Bible never ascribes to plants the status of “life,” (nor to the “lower” animals, for that matter). The Bible is very clear about the nature of life. Life, according to the Bible, resides in the “soul,” or the Hebrew word “nephesh.” This might be equated roughly with the concept of consciousness. This quality is ascribed only to man and some animals, but never plants.” (emphasis added). [James Stambaugh, Impact No. 191, “Death Before Sin” (1989)]
OEC Rebuttal No. 2 — The Definition of “Nephesh“ in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament Refers to “Soulish Creatures”: Ross cites to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament which provides the following definitions of “nephesh“: “soulish creature; person; mind; land creature with the breath of life; creature capable of expressing yearnings, emotions, passions, and will; self-aware creature.” [Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2:587-591(1980)] Ross further contends that, in most instances, Scripture uses the narrower definition of “nephesh“ (i.e., a “soulish creature”). The broader definition (i.e., a land creature with the breath of life) is only used on occasion and, in such instances, the usage is clearly indicated by the wording of the text. For example, Leviticus 11:46 says, “These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every creature (nephesh) that moves about on the ground.”
CREATION OF LAND MAMMALS & HUMAN BEINGS
“And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle (behema), and creeping things (remes), and beasts of the earth (chayya) after their kind’: and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good.”
“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….’ And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them…. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Creation of Land Mammals
Again Ross points out that, in his view, the text does not purport to identify all the land mammals God made; rather, the text limits its reference to three specific kinds of land mammals made (‘asa) by God on Day 6:
“Behema”: Soulish creatures which are long-legged, quadruped livestock easily tamed or domesticated for agricultural purposes (e.g., cattle and sheep);
- “Remes”: Soulish short-legged land mammals such as rodents, hares and armadillos [NOTE: “remes” are mammals and do not include insects];
- “Chayya”: Soulish ong-legged quadruped wild animals difficult to tame but can be made into excellent pets.
Each of these animals were soulish creatures (i.e., nephesh) which would cohabit with man and support human life. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 53-54] The text does not provide the timing of the creation of every species or even every phyla and the text says nothing about the creation of dinosaurs, bipedal primates and many other species. [Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd Ed., pgs. 28, 48-49 (2001)]
Genesis 1:20-25 uses the verb “bara“ (vs. 21) and “‘asa“ (vs. 25) which suggests that God manufactured (“‘asa“) some aspect of the “nephesh“ (e.g., the body) and created anew (bara) another aspect of the nephesh from something that did not exist before (e.g., the soul). [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 47-50] Ross further notes that Genesis 1 indicates sea mammals appeared on Day 5 and the fossil record confirms sea mammals have persisted on Earth to the present time, but not without interruption. In Ross’ view, the repeated extinctions and reappearances of sea mammals suggest God reintroduced various kinds of mammals at various times due to changes occurring on Earth. As noted by Ross, Psalm 104:27-30 states it is the property of all life to die but that God re-creates:
“…. when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
[See, Hugh Ross, GENESIS ONE, A Scientific Perspective, pgs. 19-20]
YEC Objection No. 3: Ross Has Mis-defined the Terms “Behema,” “Remes“ and “Chayyah“: Ross asserts Genesis 1:24-25“does not purport to include all the land mammals God created. Rather, the text “focuses on three varieties of land mammals that would cohabit with and provide support for the human beings to come later.” Accordingly, Ross maintains the animals created on Day 6 were limited to three specific kinds of land mammals within the group of animals considered to be soulish creatures, i.e.. “nephesh“.
YECs contend Ross has mis-defined the terms “behema“, “remes” and “chayyah” to make the text fit his Day-Age theory:
Definition of “Behema”: YECs Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor assert “behema” “can refer to almost any animal, including ‘wild’ animals.” However, Van Bebber and Taylor do note the following definition of “behema” as contained in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: ‘[B]ehema can refer to both wild beast, though exclusive use as wild beast is less frequent, and domestic animals. When referring to domestic animals, behema usually includes both large cattle and sheep, but not the ‘creeping things.’” [See, Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1:92(1980)] Van Bebber and Taylor also argue “behema” need not be thought of as a mammal” noting that Ross only draws “this conclusion based upon a false assumption concerning the word nephesh.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 90 (1996)]
Definition of “Remes”: According to Van Bebber and Taylor maintain “remes” “could refer to insects and reptiles, mammals and almost any small, living creatures.” Although Van Bebber and Taylor note Ross’ definition of “remes” “basically agrees” with the definitions provided in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, they maintain Ross errantly limits the “remes” created on Day 6 to those who are soulish creatures (“nephesh”). [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 90 (1996)]
Definition of “Chayyah’: Van Bebber and Taylor assert “chayyah” has a much broader definition than that proposed by Ross and “can refer to all types of living creatures, not simply wild mammals.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 89 (1996)]
OEC Rebuttal No. 1 — At Least Some YECs Agree Day 6 Only Refers to the Creation of a Limited Number of Creatures: It should be noted that in support of their position that Adam could have named all the animals during the 24-hour period of Day 6, some YECs, such as Jonathan Sarfati, argue the Bible only says Adam named livestock (behemah), birds of the air (oph hashamayim) and beasts of the field (chayyah hassadeh). Sarfati asserts that since “kinds” are broader than species and that Adam only had to name a subset of the “kinds”, there were “probably only a few thousand animals involved at most.” [Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pgs. 89-90 (2004) citing to Kulikovsky, “How Could Adam Have Named All the Animals in a Single Day?” (2002)]
Creation of Human Beings
Ross notes the record of the creation of man on Day 6 is the third and final time the verb “bara“ is used in Genesis 1. However, as in the case of the “nephesh“, “‘asa“ is also used which Ross maintains indicates that something about Adam was completely new and something about him was not new. Because creatures with bodies and souls already existed (i.e., the nephesh), it appears the spiritual dimension is what was new about Adam and set him apart from God’s other creations. Only men bear the “image of God” and have a spirit. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pgs. 54-55] Zechariah 12:1 states: “This is the word of the LORD …. The LORD, … who forms the spirit of man within him.”
From a scientific perspective, anthropology studies reveal that throughout human history, humans have exhibited the following spiritualtraits: 1) Consciousness of a moral code; 2) concern about death and life after death; 3) a propensity to worship and a desire to communicate with a higher being; 4) a consciousness of self; 5) a desire to discover truth and the capacity to recognize truth. [See, Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, pg. 55]
YEC Objection that Ross is Reinterpreting and
Compromising the Plain Meaning of Scripture to Accommodate Science
YECs Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor readily acknowledge the YEC interpretation of “[t]he biblical record obviously contradicts secular science’s interpretation of the fossil record.” Examples provided by Van Bebber and Taylor include the following:
|VIEW OF SECULAR SCIENTISTS|
|Reptiles came after birds||Reptiles came before birds|
|Insects came after birds||Insects came long before birds|
|Birds and fishes appeared at the same time||Fish came millions of years before birds|
|Fish and sea animals came after fruit trees and land plants||Fish came long before the first fruit trees|
|Land mammals came after sea mammals||Land mammals came before sea mammals|
In the view of Van Bebber and Taylor, the order of events recorded in Genesis 1 so clearly support the YEC View that they believe the only motivation OECs like Ross could have in presenting a different view is to attempt to solve “well-known conflicts between the order of Creation in Genesis and the order of the appearance of plants and animals accepted by secular science.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 86-87 (1996)]
YECs such as John Morris and Ken Ham maintain that scientists like Ross who estimate the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the universe 13.7 billion years old have misinterpreted the scientific data because they have failed to consider the effects the global flood described in Genesis 6-8 had on Earth’s geologic formations and have failed to consider the fact that after the Fall nature began to degenerate. [See, John Morris, The Young Earth, pg. 39 (1994); Ken Ham, The New Answers Book, “Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days? (2007)]
YEC Henry Morris accuses OECs, such as Ross, of adopting a uniformitarian worldview of origins and then “superimposing the gospel” on that world view. [Henry Morris, “The Days Do Matter,” Back to Genesis (2004)] In Morris’ view, OECs compromise the plain meaning of Scripture to accommodate evolutionary theory. Some YECs have gone so far as to accuse OECs, like Ross, of causing others to desert the faith (i.e. becoming apostates). [See, Henry Morris and John Morris, Science, Scripture, and the Young Earth, pg. 67 (1989)] Henry Morris asserts that “[t]he only real reason for following Ross’ approach is to avoid disagreement with evolutionary geology and astronomy.” [Henry Morris, “The Days Do Matter,” Back to Genesis (2004)]
OEC Response No. 1: No Compromise is Necessary or Warranted Because All Truth is God’s Truth: Ross confidently maintains “[n]o compromise of integrity is required by either side, not by the Christian who upholds the inerrancy of God’s Word nor by the scientist who trusts in the established facts of nature.” [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 20 (2004)] In Ross’ view, if Genesis is correctly translated and interpreted and if the record of nature is correctly interpreted, both records will agree because God is the author of both records and all truth is God’s truth. Consequently, there is no reason to compromise the record of scripture to accommodate science or to compromise the natural record to accommodate one’s theology.
In Ross’ view, YECs have misinterpreted the Genesis Creation Account and when the account is correctly interpreted, there is no conflict between Genesis 1 and science in any of the above scenarios.
OEC Response No. 2: Before the Advent of Evolutionary Theory, at Least Some Early Church Leaders and Jewish Scholars Interpreted the Genesis Creation Account as Occurring in Something Other than Six 24-hour Days: Ross argues YECs unfairly accuse OECs of compromising the plain meaning of the word “day” for the purpose of accommodating evolutionary theory because even before the theory of evolution developed, several church leaders and Jewish scholars had already interpreted the Genesis creation account as occurring in something other than six 24-hour days. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pgs. 17-23 (1994)] Since these men lived “long before astronomical, geological and paleontological evidences for the antiquity of the universe, of the earth and of life existed,” they cannot be accused of compromising the plain meaning of Scripture in order to accommodate evolutionary theory because the theory had not yet been proposed. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 24 (1994); Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pgs. 48-49 (2004)] According to Ross, “Christianity’s early leaders interpreted the length of the creation days different ways” and they “often expressed doubts about the interpretation of the creation days as six consecutive 24-hour periods.” Ross also suggests that those who did not outwardly recognize that such a challenge existed, “implied the same in their studious avoidance of any specific comment on the subject.” [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 24 (1994)] However, Ross does admit that “since so many writings of the early Christian leaders have been lost, conclusions about their views must be held lightly.” [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 20 (2004)] Nevertheless, Ross maintains it is significant that “nearly all of the key figures acknowledged that the length of the Genesis creation days presented a challenge to their understanding and interpretation.” [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 24 (1994)] Moreover, although it is true that none of the early writers spoke of millions or billions of years, this was simply beyond the scientific understanding of their day. Ross’ point is that the early church leaders did not agree, or at least recognized that there were questions, on how the Genesis creation days should be interpreted and, yet, there is no evidence that they sharply debated the issue, rather, they apparently tolerated diverse views. Ross states he wishes modern-day YECs would do the same. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 24 (1994)]
YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Philo and Josephus Were Not Church Leaders: Initially, it should be noted that Jonathan Sarfatiaccuses Ross of referring to Philo and Josephus as “church fathers” when, in fact, they were Jewish historians. Sarfati then states that if “Ross was so careless in historical research on this point, we should wonder about the rest of his statements.” [Jonathan Sarfati,Refuting Compromise, pg. 109 (2004). However, at least in his book Creation and Time, Ross clearly identifies Philo and Josephus as “first-century Jewish scholars,” not church fathers. [See, Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 16 (1994)]
YEC Rebuttal No. 2 — A Majority of Early Church Leaders Clearly Held a 24-Hour View: Jonathan Sarfati cites to portions of writings early church age writers to dispute the statements Ross attributes to the early writers and/or to dispute the meaning of the statements Ross attributes to the writers. In sum, Sarfati asserts nine of the writers held a 24-hour view, four of the writers believed the days were figurative and in twelve instances it was unclear what their beliefs were. [See, Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pgs. 109-122 (2004)]
OEC Response No. 3: Historical Church Creedal Statements Did Not Require a 24-Hour Day View: Ross points to multiple creedal statements in church history noting that “none of the church creeds contain any exclusive language with respect to the nature and duration of the Genesis creation days.” [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 20 (2004)] Ross’ conclusion is supported by the findings of the council of theologians empaneled by the Presbyterian Church to examine the limits of permissible interpretations of the Genesis 1 creation days. According to that report, “the issue of the length of the creation days was apparently not taken up in any ecclesiastical council and never became a part of any of the early ecumenical creedal statements.” [PCA Historical Center, “Report of the Creation Study Committee” (2000)]
OEC Response No. 4 — Modern-Day Church Councils Have Concluded that a 24-Hour View is Not Essential to Belief in Scriptural Inerrancy: Ross references three investigations conducted by modern-day councils convened to investigate the creation account in Genesis 1:
Findings of the ICBI: The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) heard from three individuals: Walter Bradley (a professor of mechanical engineering and former YEC), John Morris (YEC and president of ICR) and Gleason Archer (professor of Old Testament and Semantic Studies). Ross reports the council concluded “that adherence to six consecutive 24-hour creation days was not essential to belief in Bible inerrancy.” [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 242 (2004)]
Findings of the PCA & WTS: Ross reports the Presbyterian Church in America and the Westminster Theological Seminary “convened panels of scholars to study the Bible’s teaching on creation” and charged them “with determining the limits of permissible interpretations of the Genesis 1 creation days.” The PCA deliberated over a two year period and the WTA over a one year period. According to Ross, “[b]oth panels concluded that the Genesis creations days could be faithfully interpreted as long time periods.” [Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, pg. 57 (2004) citing to PCA Historical Center, report of the Creation Study Committee (2000) and “Westminster Theological Seminary and the Days of Creation: A Brief Statement.”]
In the Ross’ view, since God is the author of the record Scripture and the record of nature both records are true. However, that doesn’t mean every man’s interpretation of those records is accurate. Any perceived inconsistency between Scripture and the record of nature regarding the age of the universe and the earth is either because Scripture has been misinterpreted and/or because the record of nature has been misinterpreted.
Ross proposes that when the Genesis Creation Account is interpreted from the vantage points identified by the author and is interpreted as the author intended, Genesis 1 states that God (a transcendent Being) created the universe and everything in the universe in six unequal, yet definite, periods of time at a finite point in the past (“[I]n the beginning”). As contended by Ross, the Day-Age View of the Genesis Creation Account is not only scripturally sound, but is compellingly consistent with what scientists have learned about the beginning of the universe, the history of the earth and the advent of life on Earth.
© 2014 by Andrina G. Hanson
Published: March 19, 2014
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
Krista Kay Bontrager, The Bigger Picture on Creation: A Bible Study Guide for Individuals and Small Groups (Reasons to Believe, 2008)
J. Ligon Duncan III (author), David W. Hall (author), Hugh Ross (author), Gleason L. Archer (author), Lee Irons (author), Meredith G. Kline (author), David G. Hagopian (editor), The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation (Crux Press, 2000)
Alan Haywood, Creation and Evolution: Rethinking the Evidence from Science and the Bible (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004)
Henry M. Morris, Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science (Craig Press, 1978)
John D. Morris, The Young Earth: The Real History of the Earth – Past, Present, and Future (Master Books, 2007)
Robert C. Newman and Perry G. Phillips, Genesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed. (2007) free download available at: www.newmanlib.ibri.org/NewmanPhillips_Gen1OrigEar/GN1OE-pics-071109-small.pdf
Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy(NavPress Publishing Group; 1st edition, 2004)
Hugh Ross, Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy(Navpress Publishing Group, March 1994)
Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (NavPress Publishing Group; 2nd edition, 2001) (C)
Hugh Ross, “Creation Time line Chart” and the “Creation Time line” Table available at www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/creation_timeline]
Don Stoner, A New Look at an Old Earth; Resolving the Conflict Between the Bible and Science (Harvest House, 1997)
Mark A. Van Bebber and Paul S. Taylor, Creation and time: A report on the progressive creationist book by Hugh Ross (Eden Communications, 1996)
John C. Whitcomb, The Early Earth-An Introduction to Biblical Creationism, 3rd Ed. (BMH Books, 2011)
John C. Whitcomb, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications (P&R Publishing, 1996)
E. J. Young, Studies in Genesis One (P & R Publishing, 1999)
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