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How old is the earth? What about carbon dating? I’ll discuss my weird, unconventional ideas about time in Genesis 1, which I take from the plain reading of the text.
Both 24-hour-day creationists and long-age-day theistic evolutionists take a look at Genesis 1 and seek to impose their definition of “day” on the text. Both approaches mangle the text on a Procrustean bed of their own presuppositions. I look at Genesis from the plain reading of the text.
Genesis 1 defines day as a cycle of a period of darkness, followed by a period of light. It doesn’t define day as a 24-hour period or a long age period. Nothing like Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday…” can be found in Genesis 1. Long-age-day theistic evolutionists are trying to make Genesis 1 compatible with evolutionary cosmology. It doesn’t work. They have to mangle Genesis 1 so badly that it’s shameful.
24-hour-day creationists are so averse to long ages that they ignore the plain reading of Genesis 1 and force a 24-hour day on Genesis 1 despite the obvious problem that the sun wasn’t created until Day 4 and the length of an hour came from the sun’s appearance to an earthdweller and man’s attempt to divide the part of the day where there was light into 12 hours using a sundial. Later, man developed water clocks so that time could also be measured at night.
So what’s the actual text of Genesis 1 that defines “day”?
God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day
And there was evening and there was morning, a second day
There was evening and there was morning, a third day
There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day
There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day
So, even in Genesis 1, “day” is ambiguous. “Day” is used to mean both “light” and “evening and morning”. For our purposes, we’ll focus on “evening and morning” as the definition of “day” that we care about. Is that definition a single occurrence? No, obviously, it’s repeated. Why is it repeated? It’s boilerplate. What does that tell us? We ought to regard all days in the same way–as a period of darkness followed by a period of light. Repetition is often a means of emphasis. The same boilerplate is used both before and after the sun was created. Does this mean that the length of time was the same both before and after the sun was created on day four? No. It merely specifies the important way we are to look at “day”. What matters about a day is what God is emphasizing. It’s a single cycle of a period of darkness followed by a period of light.
If we follow the theistic evolutionists ideas, then they make a figurative day into many cycles of a period of darkness followed by a period of light. That violates the text in Genesis 1. It doesn’t work. Theistic evolutionists have a cosmology that says that the sun came into being before the earth, which forces them into the position that there cannot have been a single cycle of darkness/light for days one thru three. Oops.
If we had somehow been running a clock on days one thru three, might we have seen it go for billions of years? Possibly. I’m agnostic about how long days one thru three were. I think that days four thru six had to be fairly short because green plants need sunlight. Green plants were created before the sun was created, according to Genesis 1 cosmology. Plants on day three and the sun on day four. Hence, a relatively short day is required for days four thru six.
NB: If we look at the text of Genesis 1, water was the first thing mentioned. The earth was huge. It was simply water. H2O. All the stuff “out there” came from this water. All the stars, etc. So, the mass of water must have been huge. Something that huge would have been very massive. Very heavy. Like heavier than the sun or any star or any galaxy. Heavier than any black hole. Black hole…hmm. Gravity in black holes can split atoms and nuclei. Gravity can create radioactive matter. We imagine that gravity in black holes can create all kinds of exotic atomic stuff. And the big mass of water would have had huge gravitational forces acting on its stuff. Something to think about.