Strengths and Weaknesses of the Analogical-Day view Compared with Other Creation Day Views
An issue that is heatedly debated in the Christian church today is the interpretation of the Creation week described in Genesis 1 and 2 in the Bible. This resulted in various Creation-Day models each with their own weaknesses and strengths. These models are either accepted or rejected based on factors such as inconsistencies with scientific data, literal interpretation of scripture, Biblical inerrancy, authority of scripture and historical tradition. In this paper I will focus on the most recent model, called the Analogical-Day view and compare its strengths and weaknesses to other major Creation-Day models. I will attempt to show that this model fits the best as it accounts for all scientific data without sacrificing a “literal” reading of Genesis 1-2.
Throughout the ages Christians have argued for various interpretations of the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. These various interpretations have lead to the development of various Creation-Day models. Nine of the major Creation-Day models are a) Calendar-Day View, b) Gap Theory, c) Intermittent-Day View, d) Day-Age View, e) Revelatory-Day View, f) Analogical-Day View, f) Framework Hypothesis and the g) Fiat-Day View h) Palestine Preparation View i) Expanding Time View (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 177), (Rana, 2011, p. 1), (PCA, 2000).
In this paper a brief overview of each model is given in Section 1 and a more elaborate discussion for the Analogical Day view in Section 2 and a conclusion follows in Section 3.
Section 1: Brief Overview of Nine Major Creation Models
The Calendar-Day View, also known as the 24-hour View, Recent Creation View or Solar Day View is believed by those who hold it to be historically the oldest and most commonly accepted interpretation (Row, 2004, p. 2). This view accepts Genesis 1 as historically describing the creation week as consisting of six chronological 24-hour days followed by a 24-hour Sabbath. Adam and Eve were literally and historically the first human beings created as mature adults and placed in the Garden of Eden which included full-grown trees and animals. (PCA, 2000). This view concludes that by calling His creation “very good”, God meant to convey that the entire creation was a perfect paradise before Adam and Eve sinned. All death and suffering are therefore strictly the result of the fall of Adam and Eve (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 179). Using genealogies in the Bible (Gen. 11, Matt. 1), together with a six 24-hour creation week as well as historical beliefs of church leaders such as Archbishop James Ussher (Craig & Jones, 1982) this view holds that the universe and earth were created not more than approximately 6000 – 10 000 years ago – hence the name Young Earth Creationists. This view is still fairly accepted among protestant Christians today.
The Gap Theory, also known as Ruin-Restoration Creationism came about during the late 1700s with the aim of harmonizing the Bible and geology. This interpretation supposes that there were an initial creation account as well as a restoration creation account, described in Genesis 1:1 and 1:2-31 respectively. In-between these creation accounts an unspecified length of time passed (possibly billions of years) during which Satan rebelled and then “the earth became without form and void”, as they argue Genesis 1:2 should read. The six days of the creation week is proposed as ordinary 24-hour days during which the re-making of earth takes place (Collins, 2003, p. 92). This view maintains that’s the Genesis account is inerrant in matters of both scripture as well as scientific fact and asserts that certain facts about the creation of the Earth have been omitted from the Genesis account (Custance, 1989). This view was especially prominent in the first half of the nineteenth century, but it is fairly rare since then.
The Intermittent-Day View also aims to harmonize the Bible with the record of nature by proposing six chronological, non-continuous 24-hour days during which God was busy creating with periods of unspecified length (possibly billions of years) in-between as illustrated in Figure 1 below . This view therefore also argues that these six days match the six days in the Genesis account in duration however the total creative period is longer than an ordinary week (Newman, Phillips, & Enkelmann, 1977).
Figure 1: The Intermittent-Day View
Note. From (Newman, Phillips, & Enkelmann, 1977)
The Day-Age View, interprets the word “day” in Genesis 1 in the same sense as “in that day” (Isaiah 11:10-11) or “the day of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:12, Joel 1:15, 2 Peter 3:10). This interpretation implies periods of indefinite length and not of 24 hour duration. The six days are taken as very long (possibly billions of years) and chronological, but as overlapping and perhaps merging into one another as illustrated in Figure 2 below. According to this view, the Genesis 1 creation week describes events from the point of view of the earth, which is being prepared as the habitation for man (Ross, Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account, 2000). This view also upholds the position that the absence of the phrase “and there was evening, and there was morning” indicates that God is still resting from His creation miracles which implies we are still living in the Seventh day (Bontrager, 2008, p. 64).
Some proponents of this view, called Progressive Creationists reject Macro-evolution (evolution from one species to another) but accept Micro-evolution (variation within a specific species). Instead they claim that God miraculously intervened at specific times to create and destroy certain species. This continuous creation and extinction cycle from very simple to more advanced species (hence progressive creationism) prepared the correct conditions on Earth for the eventual human life. Other proponents of this view, called Theistic Evolutionists, accept Macro- as well Micro-evolution as the method by which God created all species (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 189).
Proponents of the Day-Age View asserts that there has been recognition among Biblical scholars since ancient times that the word “day” could mean an extended period of time (Ross, Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account, 2000). This view is also very popular among Christian scientists today as it provides an explanation that accounts for the inerrancy of the Bible as well as the latest scientific data from the geological, fossil, astronomical and biological record.
Figure 2: The Day-Age View
Note. From (Ross, Creation Timeline, 2006)
According to the Revelatory-Day View the universe and the world is created in an undefined period of time (possibly billions of years), but is only revealed to the observer or author of Genesis in six 24-hour days. This interpretation comes from the fact that the Hebrew word for “make” can be translated to also mean “show” or reveal”. In this way the reverence from Exodus 20:11 can be understood as “For in six days the Lord revealed the heavens and the earth”. There is night fall between the days as the observer needs to rest before his final rest on the seventh day after the revelation. This view says nothing about the chronology of creation, but only about the order in which it was revealed (Alberts, 2007).
The Analogical-Day View asserts that the workdays in Genesis 1 are God’s workdays which are analogous, but not identical to human workdays. They set a pattern for our rhythm of work and rest. The six days represent periods of God’s historical supernatural activity in preparing and populating the earth as a place for humans to live, love, work, and worship. These days are of undefined duration (possibly billions of years) and chronological, and may overlap in part, or they may reflect logical rather than chronological criteria for grouping certain events on certain days (Ross, Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account, 2000). This view accepts the literal inerrant interpretation of the Genesis account (including the literal interpretation of the word “day”) as well the scientific evidence that supports that the universe and earth are billions of years old (Whorton & Roberts, 2004).
The Framework Hypothesis asserts that Moses used the “days” as literary devices to frame various pictures of creation history. Each of the six days of creation is presented as a normal day, narrated in topical order, even though God’s creative work lasted an undefined period of time (possibly billions of years) and did not actually occur within a literal week (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 214). The workweek is therefore a metaphor for all the creation activities which God performed. Thus, God’s supernatural creative works are real and historical but the exact timing is left unspecified. The purpose of the metaphor is to call Adam to imitate God in work, with the promise of entering His Sabbath rest. Creation events are grouped in two triads of days: Days 1-3 (creations kingdoms) are paralleled by Days 4-6 (creation’s kings). Adam is king of the earth; God is the King of Creation (Ross, Four Views of the Biblical Creation Account, 2000). Proponents of this view argue that the Bible is full of carefully crafted literary structures which include Genesis 1 and therefore accepts the scientific evidence for an ancient creation while maintaining that the author of Genesis uses literal 24-hour days in his description of the creation week.
The Fiat-Day View proposes that God spoke the commands to create during the span of six 24-hour days, but the fulfillment of those commands took an undefined period of time (possibly billions of years) (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 209).
The Palestine Preparation View sees creation as restricted to Genesis 1:1 and argues that the account shifts in Genesis 1:2 to a description of the preparation of the Promised Land for Israel (Terry, 1999, pp. 548-552).
The Expanding Time View employs Einstein’s relativity theory, under the assumption that the six “days” are days from a different frame of reference than ours on earth, namely from the initial Big Bang (from our frame of reference, the universe is 15 billion years old). It was not only space that got expanded, but time as well. Under this scheme, the first day was 24 hours at the initial creation time, but looking back from our perspective it maps to 8 billion years. The second day, 24 hours from the beginning of time perspective, was 4 billion years long from ours. The third day from our vantage point was 2 billion years, the fourth day one billion years, the fifth day half a billion, and the sixth day was a quarter billion years long. This adds up to 15.75 billion years, the same as modern cosmologists’ calculation. The appeal of this view is that it does not need another meaning for “day,” and at the same time harmonizes with modern cosmology (Schroeder, Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery Of Harmony Between Modern Science And The Bible, 1991), (Schroeder G. , 2009).
Section 2: Elaborate discussion for the Analogical Day view
In principle the Analogical-Day View takes no stance on duration of the creation days – it is either long periods of time (billions of years) or short periods of time (24-hour days or shorter). Before I continue I would like to clarify the definition of “literal” in a scriptural reading context.
In ordinary speech, to “take something literally” usually means to read it in its most physical terms, without appealing to figures of speech. For example, we say that it can’t “literally” rain cats and dogs. In this sense “literally” means realistically (what is physical possible) and the opposite to “literally” would be “figuratively speaking” (not necessarily physically possible). Therefore, if we say in ordinary speech that something is not to be taken “literally”, it implies that it is a metaphor for something else and did not happen in reality that way. There were no real “cats and dogs falling from the sky,” it was just raining very hard.
But in theology, the word “literal” has a special meaning, namely that it refers to interpreting a Bible text in the sense which the author intended. In the ordinary speech sense, “literal” implies “real event” and “non-literal” implies “fictive event”. In theological sense, both “literal” and “non-literal” can imply “real event” or “fictive event”. “Literal” in the theological sense therefore means something the people of the original culture would have understood by that term and “non-literal” would mean something different that “the reader in another culture and time” might interpret it to be. This is the only meaning of the word “literal” that should carry any weight with us – “the sense the author intended”. That of course puts no limits beforehand on whether the passage has in it any metaphors or other figures of speech, meaning the text can be “figuratively” and still be “literal” if this is what the author intended it to be. Therefore when we say “we have to read the biblical text in a literal sense,” it implies that we should bend our efforts to finding out what a good reader from the original culture would have seen in the story (whether real or metaphorically) (Collins, 2003, p. 79).
Now, the big argument for why proponents of the Calendar-Day View only accept the duration of the creation days as 24-hour periods (or 36-hour periods) and reject any longer period of time is the “literal” interpretation of the word “Day” in Hebrew (Yôm). By this they imply that the author indented to show that the creation days were ordinary days during which work was done before nightfall. Therefore (speaking “literally”), if the original audience understood it as human days, it would be 24-hour days (or at least the daylight time of 24-hour days).
The Analogical-Day View argues that the author intended to show that these were in fact God’s days. A “literal” reading of the texts therefore imply that these days can be very long periods of time (possibly billions of years). This way it satisfies the main criteria of both the Calendar-Day View as well as the Day-Age View in the sense that the creation days are still read and understood “literally” but also allow for an ancient earth which is supported by scientific discovery.
Adding to this is the interpretation of the Sabbath that follows the creation week. In Exodus 31:17 we read that God “rested and was refreshed”. Clearly God did not literally need to catch His breath after the creation week, since God never sleeps or grows tired (Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 121:4, Psalm 3:5). He just refrained from creating. This implies that even though God expects us to follow the same pattern as He did, there are areas of distinction since God’s rest and human rest. Furthermore we as humans are incapable of creating plants out of nothing (ex nihilo) as God did, but we are able to water them and help them grow. Again there are points of similarity (the pattern) but also of distinction (we cannot create out of nothing) (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 201).
Therefore the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest describe a Creator’s work and rest that is similar (or analogical) to that of humans but not the same (or identical). Since a difference between the activities of these days exists between God and humans, surely the duration of the days can also be different. In fact, the scripture makes it clear that God is not limited by time as we are (2 Peter 3:8). From this point of view it seems likely that the main purpose of the creation account was to provide us with a model for work and rest and not to teach us the precise timetable for creation (Whorton & Roberts, 2004, p. 202).
A critique from the Calendar-Day View is that the association between man’s workweek and God’s six days of creation in Exodus 20, requires a exact equivalency between man’s days and God’s days of creation because it is the most straightforward reading (literal interpretation). This argument breaks down as I described above, since humans do not create and rest as God does and therefore an exact equivalency between God’s creation week and the human work week is impossible.
Further emphasis is placed on this “resting” of God by the phrase “evening came, and then morning” in Genesis 1. In Numbers 9:15-16 this exact phrase is used to mark the beginning and ending of “night-time” and thus refers only to the period of rest following each day’s labour as in Psalm 104:22-23. This is especially significant in the context of analogy between God’s workdays and man’s, since each day’s refrain foreshadow the weekly Sabbath day of rest when the six days of work are complete. Hence it seems that that the evening and morning are mentioned as a repeated foreshadowing of the seventh day of rest and not as actual notations of a 24-hour day. However, to be consistent with the analogical use of “God’s rest” to mean to “refrain from creating,” one should expect to find non-overlapping periods or “creation gaps” between the creation days in the fossil record.
A further argument is that the most straightforward reading of Genesis 1 indicates that the sun and moon were only created on day 4. This however leads to a contradicting conclusion since the sun’s existence is required for the existence of a solar day in Day 1 already. Some proponents of the Calendar-Day View proposes that God created a temporary light source (for which the creation and removal of it is not mentioned in Genesis 1) for days 1-3. This solution, however, not only fails to provide answers on why God would have chosen to do this and would not have just created the sun on day 1 if those were ordinary human days, but also adds unverifiable assumptions about God’s creation acts. Furthermore, it gives the impression of a forced explanation to fit a certain interpretation of the text rather than a logical and simpler explanation. Using Occam’s razor this argument is most likely false. A better explanation which is supported by scientific discovery as well as scripture (as shown above), is that solar days existed much earlier in Earth’s history and the marker for days, months and seasons only appeared (from the Earth’s perspective) on day 4. It can even be argued that on day 4 it only started to perform its intended function of keeping time in order for human living and could even be related to the time the rotation rate of Earth decreased to the correct rate after the formation of the moon. The Analogical-Day View allows for this interpretation.
Collins (2003) and Whorton & Roberts (2004) provides a very good explanation for the apparent contradictions between the creation narratives in Genesis 1 and 2. They suggests that Genesis 2 elaborates on key elements on day 6 of Genesis 1. A better reading of Genesis 2:5-7 by translating “earth” (NASB translation) with “land” (ESV translation) provides a key element in understanding connection between Genesis 1 and 2. It thereby does not reference the “entire earth”, but most probably only a “piece of land” like the location where the Garden of Eden will eventually be. It reads:
“When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground – then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature”
Since it doesn’t rain during the summer in Palestine and the autumn rains brings about a burst of plant growth, these verses would make good sense if we supposed that they describe a time of year, when it has been a dry summer, so the plants weren’t growing – but the rains and the man were about to come so that the plants would be able to grow in the “land” (Collins, 2003, p. 88).
In this context we get a clear picture for these verses that in some particular land, in some particular year, at the time of year before the rainy season usually begins, but when the mist (or rain clouds) was rising – that’s when God formed the first human, planted the Garden of Eden and transplanted the man there.
The activities of day 6 includes the creation of Land animals, creation of Adam, the plant of the Garden of Eden, relocation of Adam to this location, lays instruction upon him, let him name the animals, put him through the search for a helper, casts a deep sleep over him and forms Eve from him at which point Adam exclaimed “this at last!” as if it took a long waiting time before Eve appeared on the scene. The conclusion from this is that the events that took place on day 6, possibly took a few months, seasons or even years to complete. Since the Analogical-Day View allows for this long duration this argument is in support of it.
- The Analogical-Day View allows for a “literal” reading of Genesis 1 (including the word for “day”) and is only supported by the Calendar-Day View, but without invoking any of their unique problems.
- The Analogical-Day View supports the scientific evidence for an old universe (13.7 Billion years old), which is only supported by the Intermittent-Day View, Revelatory-Day View, Framework Hypothesis, Fiat-Day View and the Expanding Time View, but without invoking any of their unique problems.
- The Analogical-Day View enjoys the clear analogy between God’s creation week and Sabbath and the human workweek and Sabbath which is only supported by the Day-Age View and the Framework Hypothesis, but without invoking any of their unique problems.
- The Analogical-Day View provides elegant solutions for the apparent problems of the Sun appearing only on day 4 which is only supported by the Day-Age View and the Framework Hypothesis, but without invoking any of their unique problems.
- The Analogical-Day View provides elegant solutions for the apparent contradictions of the creation narratives in Genesis 1 and 2 and is only supported by the Day-Age View and the Framework Hypothesis, but without invoking any of their unique problems.
- The weaknesses of the Analogical-Day View are limited to the fact that it infers a Metaphorical interpretation as opposed to a real interpretation of Genesis. In fact, except for the scriptural interpretation of the word for “day” in Genesis 1, the Analogical-Day View as well as the Day-Age View share the same strengths and weaknesses.
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