Justin Brierley hosts a weekly podcast called Unbelievable. Combing through his archives I found and listened to a debate about whether the earth was young or old. He moderated a debate between the Biblical Creationists (Andy McIntosh/Stephen Lloyd) and old earth creationists (Hugh Ross/Ken Samples).
There were several problems with the old earther’s positions. Ken Samples ridiculously claimed that the young earth position was peculiar, and that since a day can mean more than just 24 hours, then the proper interpretation for Genesis 1 is that the word day should conform to his meaning of millions (or billions) of years. He also wrongly claimed that days 1-3 couldn’t be real days because the sun and moon were not created until day 4. Projecting his own injection of poor scripture interpretation onto the biblical creationists, he called the youth earth model unbiblical.
Let’s analyze Samples’ claims using God’s Word and some common sense.
Genesis 1:14-15,19 says
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from he night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so…And there was evening and there was morning-the fourth day.
So, the Hebrew word for day is yom or yowm. And it can mean a 24 hour period, the hours when the sun shines, or a passage of time. In verse 14, the first use of the word “day” clearly means the hours of light in the daily cycle. The second use of the word “yom” needs no interpretation to understand that it is a 24 hour period, which is synonymous to the earlier meaning of identifying the light/dark cycle. But Sample’s peculiar and radical interpretation is to cram 14 billion years into the meaning of “yom” in verse 19. Samples re-interprets the final “yom” (in verse 19) to fit his preconceived notions rather than letting the same paragraph of scripture clearly speak as to the limits of the day in the context. In the same passage, the word yom means the daily cycle, but Samples wants his billions of years to be included in scripture, so he stretches the meaning of the word to accommodate his model.
Samples also ignores the passages in Exodus 20:9-11 and Exodus 31:17 that says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” So, God’s command was for the Hebrews to work for six days as He worked and then rest on the Sabbath as He did. Using Sample’s radical re-interpretation, the Hebrews would have needed to work for 14 billion years before finding rest. I prefer to stick with scripture rather than the old earth model.
Regarding Sample’s problem understanding how days 1-3 could be literal days before the sun existed, it’s really quite simple. What did Genesis tell us was the first purpose of the lights in the heavens? Time keeper. So, Samples is telling us that there could not have been time before the time keeper. Or put another way, prior to the invention of the stop watch, seconds didn’t exist, because we couldn’t measure seconds. I’m sure Kenny is a nice fellow, but his logic and Biblical interpretation are deeply flawed.
This is a problem because God revealed himself in scripture, and it clearly teaches that death is a penalty for sin. Jesus came to pay the price for mankind’s sin by dying in our place. If death is something that God created as part of his “very good” creation (Gen 1:31), then is brings into serious question why Jesus had to come at all. If death, disease, and suffering were just part of creation as Ross and Samples teach, then the coming of the Messiah to restore peace and defeat death (I Cor 15:26) are brought into question.
We can trust God’s revelation about the past, and that gives us hope that we can trust him with our future.