Tag Archives: Genesis

Who Are the "Sons of God" in Genesis 6:2?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

The most popular view, among evangelicals, is that the “sons of God” mentioned in Gen. 6:2 are angels who seduce human women, the “daughters of men.”  This view, however, is highly problematic because Matthew 22:30 informs us that angels do not marry.

So who are the “sons of God?”  According to both Tom Howe and R. C. Sproul, two biblical scholars that I have great respect for, the “sons of God” are the very human descendants of Seth, who was the son that God gave Adam and Eve to replace Abel .  The “daughters of men” are the descendants of Cain, who was cursed by God for the murder of Abel.

Why do Howe and Sproul think this?  The preceding passages in chapter 4  focus on the two lines of Cain and Seth.  Cain’s descendants are wicked (note how Cain’s line ends with Lamech, who sings a song about murdering a man).  His female descendants are the “daughters of men.”  Seth’s son is Enosh,  and after he was born, “men began to call on the name of the Lord.”  Seth’s male descendants are the “sons of God,” the only hope for mankind to halt the slide into utter depravity.

So Gen. 6:2 is referring to the male descendants of Seth marrying the female descendants of Cain, marriage that would yield a harvest of greater and greater sin.  This is a continuing theme in the Old Testament where the people of Israel are warned not to marry pagans because of the religious syncretism that would surely occur.

The results of the “sons of God” marrying the “daughters of men” was disastrous for the human race, as humankind became so evil that God elected to bring a flood that would kill everyone except Noah and his family.

Does a 4.5 Billion Year Old Earth Prove Evolution is True?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

No, even though I often hear Christians talk as if it does.  Many believe that if you interpret the “days” in Genesis to be long periods of time and you accept the current scientific consensus that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, then you are “siding” with evolution.

The ironic thing is that when scientific evidence started showing that the universe is only billions of years old and not infinite, some bemoaned the fact that there just wasn’t enough time for the Darwinian mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection to work.  They had been assuming a practically infinite amount of time.  Billions of years was not a boon to evolution; it was a serious problem!

In fact, one of the greatest challenges for Darwinian evolution in the fossil record is the Cambrian explosion, where over 95% of known animal phyla suddenly appeared over a period of 5 to 10 million years.   According to the fossil record, evolution had to work in an extremely short period of time for these animal phyla to appear, so the situation is even worse than billions of years – they have to deal with only millions of years!

Bottom line: whether it is thousands of years, millions of years, or billions of years, it doesn’t matter.  The random process of Darwinian evolution needs far more time to manufacture the biological complexity and diversity we see on earth.  Whether evolution is true or not has little to do with the age of the earth being 4.5 billion years.

When thinking about creation, learn to decouple evolution from the age of the earth.  They are two completely separate issues that need not be considered together.  It absolutely does not follow that a 4.5 billion year old earth or 13.8 billion year old universe lead inexorably to the truth of Darwinian evolution.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 5

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In this series of posts, we are looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word yom as it is used in the first chapter of Genesis.  Does yom refer to a 24-hour day or to a long period of time?

Today we will review two final arguments from young earth creationists who assert that the 24-hour “day” is the correct interpretation of Genesis 1.  Again, we will use material from Norman Geisler’s systematic theology, volume 2.

First, young earth creationists accuse old earth creationists of actively supporting Darwinian evolution by interpreting long periods of time in Genesis.

It is well known that the theory of evolution (or common ancestry) depends on very long periods of time for life to develop from a one-celled animal to human beings. Without these long periods of time, evolution would not be possible. Thus, it is argued by young-earthers that granting long periods of time is an accommodation to evolution.

This is an important argument that persuades many Christians, so how would old earth creationists respond?

 In response to this charge, it must be observed that allowing for long periods of time for the development of life came long before the idea of evolution. Augustine (354–430), for one, held to long periods of time for the development of life (CG, 11.6).  Also, even in modern times, scientists had concluded that long periods of time were involved before Darwin wrote in 1859.  Furthermore, long periods of time do not help evolution, since without intelligent intervention, more time does not produce the specified complexity involved in life. Natural laws randomize, not specify. For example, dropping red, white, and blue bags of confetti from a plane at 1,000 feet in the air will never produce an American flag on the ground. Giving it more time to fall by dropping it at 10,000 feet will diffuse it even more.

The truth is that old earth creationists challenge the ideas of Darwinian evolution just as much as young earth creationists.  Neither group believes that evolution, alone, can explain how all of the diverse plant and animal species arrived on earth.  Both sides believe that evolution can explain limited change within species, but above the species level the evidence thins out rapidly.

Here is one final argument for the 24-hour “day” view.

Mark 10:6 affirms that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning.  According to this text, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’”  If God created humankind at the beginning of Creation, then they were not created at the end of millions of years, as the old-earth view contends.

The response is fairly straightforward:

First, Adam was not created at the beginning but at the end of the creation period (on the sixth day), no matter how long or short the days were.
Second, the Greek word for “create” (ktisis) can and sometimes does mean “institution” or “ordinance” (cf. 1 Peter 2:13).  Since Jesus is speaking of the institution of marriage in Mark 10:6, it could mean “from the beginning of the institution of marriage.”
Third, and finally, even if Mark 10:6 is speaking of the original creation events, it does not mean there could not have been a long period of time involved in those creative events.

Thus concludes an introduction to some of the most popular young earth arguments and responses to them.  In future posts, we will look at further lines of evidence from the old earth creation side.  There is much more to be said about the old earth view, and considering that this view is rarely heard within the evangelical community, we should study them here.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 4

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In this series of posts, we are looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word yom as it is used in the first chapter of Genesis.  Does yom refer to a 24-hour day or to a long period of time?

Today we will review two more arguments that young earth creationists make and the responses to these arguments by old earth creationists.  Again, we will use material from Norman Geisler’s systematic theology, volume 2.

Young earth creationists argue that plants and animals must exist at the same time because they rely on each other for survival.

Plants were created on the third day (1:11–13), and animals were not created until later (1:20–23). There is a symbiotic relation between plants and animals, one depending on the other for its life. For example, plants give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, and animals do the reverse. Therefore, plants and animals must have been created closely together, not separated by long periods of time.

This is more of a scientific argument than a biblical argument, but it is still worth reviewing in this series.  How would old earth creationists respond to this argument?  Can plants live without animals for a long period of time?

Some plants and animals are interdependent, but not all. Genesis does not mention all the plants and animals, but only some. If the “days” are six successive periods, then those forms of plant and animal life that need each other could have been created together. In fact, the basic order of events is the order of dependence.  For instance, many plants and animals can exist without humans (and they were created first), but humans (who were created on the sixth day) cannot exist without certain plants and animals. . . . In any event, the argument from the symbiotic relation of plants and animals does not prove that the six “days” of Genesis 1 must be only 144 hours in duration.

Another common argument made by young earth creationists is that there was no death before Adam.  I, myself, have heard this argument many times used by friends of mine.  Here is how it works:

According to the old-earth position, there was death before Adam. Nevertheless, the Bible declares that death came only after Adam, as a result of his sin: “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12; cf. 8:20–22).

But does the Bible really say this?  I asked one commenter, who posted on our blog, this very question, but I never received a response.  Here is why:

There are several problems with this argument.
First, Romans 5:12 does not say all animals die because of Adam’s sin, but only that “all men” die as a consequence.
Second, Romans 8 does not say that animal death results from Adam’s sin, but only that the “creation was subjected to frustration” as a result of it (v. 20).
Third, if Adam ate anything—and he had to eat in order to live—then at least plants had to die before he sinned.
Fourth, and finally, the fossil evidence indicates animal death before human death, since people are found only on the top (later) strata while animals are found in lower (earlier) strata.

The Bible does not, in fact, say that there was no death before Adam’s sin.  This argument just does not work.

In our next post, we will look at the final two young earth arguments.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 3

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Today we continue looking at arguments for a 24-hour view of the “days” in Genesis and arguments for a longer period of time.  Again, we will be using Norm Geisler’s treatment of the issue.

A seemingly persuasive argument for the 24-hour view is the comparison in Exodus 20:11 of the six-day work week to the six “days” of creation.  Here is the argument briefly stated:

According to the law of Moses (Ex. 20:11), the Jewish workweek (Sunday through Friday) was to be followed by a day of rest on Saturday, just as God had done in His “six-day week” of creation.  The Jewish workweek refers to six successive twenty-four-hour-days. This being the case, it seems that the creation week, like the workweek, was only 144 hours long.

Dr. Geisler addresses this argument in the following way:

It is true that the creation week is compared with a workweek (Ex. 20:11); however, it is not uncommon in the Old Testament to make unit-to-unit comparisons rather than minute-for-minute ones. For example, God appointed forty years of wandering for forty days of disobedience (Num. 14:34). And, in Daniel 9, 490 days equals 490 years (cf. 9:24–27). What is more, we know the seventh day is more than twenty-four hours, since according to Hebrews 4 the seventh day is still going on. Genesis says that “on the seventh day [God] rested” (Gen. 2:2), but Hebrews informs us that God is still in that Sabbath rest into which He entered after He created: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:10).

The next argument for 24-hour “days” in Genesis has to do with the creation of light on the fourth day.

Young-earthers claim that according to Genesis 1, light was not made until the fourth day (v. 14), but there was life on the third day (v. 1:11–13). However, life on earth cannot exist for millions (or even thousands) of years without light; thus, the “days” must not have been long periods of time.

As Dr. Geisler points out, there are several possible responses to this argument:

Light was not created on the fourth day, as defenders of the solar day argue; rather, it was made on the very first day when God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). As to why there was light on the first day when the sun did not appear until the fourth day, there are various possibilities. Some scholars have noted a parallelism between the first three days (light, water, and land—all empty) and the second three days (light, water, and land—all filled with bodies). This may indicate a parallelism in which the first and fourth days cover the same period, in which case the sun existed from the beginning.

Others have pointed out that while the sun was created on the first day, it did not appear until the fourth day. Perhaps this was due to a vapor cloud that allowed light through, but not the distinct shape of the heavenly bodies from which the light emanated.

An additional point can be made about the fourth day.  According to young-earth creationists, the sun was not created until the fourth day, but there could be no 24-hour solar days for the first three “days” of Genesis without the sun.  After all, the sun is what gives the earth a 24-hour cycle.  Without the sun, it seems nonsensical to call the first three “days” solar days.

As we look at each of the arguments for 24-hour “days” in Genesis, they may seem convincing at first.  After reading the responses to these arguments, they are not as persuasive.  As I said in an earlier post, interpreting these verses in Genesis is not easy, but we should still keep trying to find the truth, even if it is difficult.  There are still a few more common arguments made by young-earth creationists that we need to review.  We will do that next.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In the first post in this series, we introduced the topic of “days” in Genesis, but there are more arguments that need to be fleshed out.  We will continue using Norman Geisler’s treatment of this subject in his second volume of systematic theology.

Young-earth creationists point out that when numbered series are used in the Old Testament in combination with the Hebrew word yom, they are always referring to a 24-hour day.  Here is the argument:

Further, it is noted that when numbers are used in a series (1, 2, 3 … ) in connection with the word day (yom) in the Old Testament, it always refers to twenty-four-hour-days. The absence of any exception to this in the Old Testament is given as evidence of the fact that Genesis 1 is referring to twenty-four-hour-days.

How do opponents of the young-earth view reply?

Critics of the twenty-four-hour-day view point out that there is no rule of the Hebrew language demanding that all numbered days in a series refer to twenty-four-hour-days. Further, even if there were no exceptions in the rest of the Old Testament, it would not mean that “day” in Genesis 1 does not refer to more than a twenty four hour period of time: Genesis 1 may be the exception! Finally, contrary to the solar-day view, there is another example in the Old Testament of a numbered series of days that are not twenty-four-hour-days. Hosea 6:1–2 reads: “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” It is clear that the prophet is not speaking of twenty-four-hour “days,” but of longer periods of time in the future. Even so, he uses numbered days in a series.

A further argument of young-earth creationists has to do with the fact that the phrase “evening and morning” is used in conjunction with “days.”

Another line of evidence is the use of the phrase “evening and morning” in connection with each day in Genesis 1.  Since the literal twenty-four-hour-day on the Jewish calendar began in the “evening” (by sunset) and ended in the “morning” (before sunset) the next day, it is concluded that these are literal twenty-four-hour-days.

Here is the reply that is given to that argument:

First, the fact that the phrase “evening and morning” is often used in connection with twenty-four-hour-days does not mean it must always be used in this way.

Second, if one is going to take everything in Genesis 1 in a strictly literal way, then the phrase “evening and morning” does not encompass all of a twenty-four-hour-day, but only the late afternoon of one day and the early morning of another. This is considerably less than twenty four hours.

Third, technically, the text does not say the “day” was composed of “evening and morning” (thus allegedly making a twenty four hour Jewish day); rather, it simply says, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Gen. 1:5). Further, the phrase may be a figure of speech indicating a beginning and end to a definite period of time, just as we see in phrases like “the dawn of world history” or the “sunset years of one’s life.”

Fourth, if every day in this series of seven is to be taken as twenty-four hours, why is the phrase “evening and morning” not used with one of the days (the seventh)? In fact, the seventh day is not twenty-four hours, and thus there is no necessity to take the other days as twenty four hours either, since all of them alike use the same word (yom) and have a series of numbers with them.

Fifth, and finally, in Daniel 8:14, “evenings and mornings” (cf. v. 26) refer to a period of 2,300 days. Indeed, often in the Old Testament the phrase is used as a figure of speech meaning “continually” (cf. Ex. 18:13; 27:21; Lev. 24:3; Job 4:20).

There are several more arguments to be reviewed, so stick around.

What is the Meaning of the Word "Day" in Genesis? Part 1

Post Author: Bill Pratt

The Hebrew word yom is used eleven times in Genesis, chapter 1.  When you read Genesis 1 (and you should before proceeding to read this post), it is clear that the author is describing the creation of the heavens and earth by God.  As the author describes this process, he uses the word yom to denote periods of time that pass between each major creation event.  Here are a few verses (Gen 1:3-8) to show what I mean:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.  And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.”  And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

This pattern continues through the sixth “day” until the initial creation account ends with Gen 2:1-3:
 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
 The word yom can mean several things in Hebrew.  It can refer to a 24-hour period or it can refer to longer periods of time.  Which is the correct interpretation in Genesis 1?
As Norman Geisler records, those who argue that the “days” are 24-hour periods argue like this:
 It is contended that the usual meaning of the Hebrew word yom (“day”) is twenty-four hours unless the context indicates otherwise. The context does not indicate anything but a twenty-four-hour-day in Genesis 1; hence, the days should be taken as solar days.
 (Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 637.)
The response to this view is as follows:
 It is true that most often the Hebrew word yom (“day”) means “twenty-four hours.” However, this is not definitive for its meaning in Genesis 1 for several reasons.
First, the meaning of a term is not determined by majority vote, but by the context in which it is used. It is not important how many times it is used elsewhere, but how it is used here.
Second, even in the creation story in Genesis 1–2, “day” (yom) is used of more than a twenty-four-hour period. Speaking of the whole six “days” of creation, Genesis 2:4 refers to it as “the day” (yom) when all things were created.
Third, and finally, yom is elsewhere used of long periods of time, as in Psalm 90:4, which is cited in 2 Peter 3:8: “A day is like a thousand years.”

(Norman L. Geisler, 639)

These are the just the basic introductory arguments for these views, and much more could be said.  But we have to start somewhere and we will continue batting these views back and forth in future posts.

What Do Evangelicals Think About Creation?

Som people believe that if you are an evangelical, then you must believe that God created the earth and the entire universe in a six day period of time, about 6,000 – 10,000 years ago.  In addition, you must believe that the entire universe was also created 6,000 – 10,000 years ago.  This view is known as young-earth creation, and it is certainly popular with many evangelicals.

However, it is not true that this is the only position that evangelicals take.  There are several other positions, such as the literary-framework view, revelatory-day view, alternate-day-age view, and gap theory.

Perhaps the leading contender to the young-earth view, among evangelicals,  is the old-earth or progressive creation view.  Proponents of old-earth creation view the events in Genesis 1 and 2 as real, historical occurrences, but they interpret the “days” in Genesis as long periods of time.  They endorse the findings of geology, astronomy, and physics, which date the earth at about 4.5 billion years old and the entire universe at about 13.8 billion years old.

Some evangelicals dismiss old-earth creation (truth be told, many aren’t even aware of it) because they believe it does not interpret Genesis literally, but that is not the case.  A literal interpretation simply means that a person interprets the meaning of a writing as the original author intended, taking into account the literary style and structure of the writing.

For example, almost all evangelical scholars believe that the events depicted in Genesis were written in the form of historical narrative, and not in the form of mythology or allegory.  Writers of mythology and allegory often provide clear textual queues that indicate those genres.   The text of Genesis, however, reads like a historical narrative.

Many well-known evangelical scholars, who believe that the creation events of Genesis are part of a historical narrative, have interpreted the “days” in Genesis as long periods of time, and not 24-hour days.   It is simply not true to claim that young-earth creationists are the only ones interpreting Genesis literally.  There are several possible literal interpretations of Genesis 1-2, and young-earth creation represents one of those possible interpretations.

There is a further point that needs making.  The age of the earth is not an issue that divides Christian from non-Christian.  It does not determine anyone’s salvation.  All of the views mentioned above assert that God created the universe in a supernatural way and that He created the first human beings in a supernatural way.  So let’s keep these disagreements in perspective.