Anchored in Scripture
I love the title of this chapter. As Christians, we should find solid footing for justifying morality, purpose, and doctrine. Now, let’s see what Dr. Ross has to tell us about being anchored in scripture
The opening paragraph reads:
Genesis 1 records a dramatic story: “within six days” God miraculously Transformed a “formless and void” Earth into a well-furnished home for humanity. He then created two human beings, male and female, to live there. How strange that in the awesome scope of this account the meaning of one word, “day,” should become the focus of ferocity. Is the length of a creation day 24 hours? Or can the word “day” refer to millions of years?
Speaking of “how strange”…how strange is it for someone to read the text of Genesis 1 and be struck with the reflection, ‘I wonder if the word day means millions of years.’ Like we talked about in the introduction, regarding the word puddle. If you were to read the poem Wild Peaches by Elinor Wylie which includes the lines
“The autumn frosts will lie upon the grass
Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.
The misted early mornings will be cold;
The little puddles will be roofed with glass.”
Would one reflect on the word puddle to say, ‘I wonder if the word puddle means a tiny collection of rainwater or billions of cubic miles of water.’ That’s what Dr. Ross is asking us to believe the biblical text suggests as possible.
Yet these two examples are in the same range of absurdity. For Dr. Ross to (out of nowhere) ask “can the word day refer to millions of years?” means he is NOT anchored in scripture, but has brought his own modern paradigm into his biblical interpretation. Being anchored in scripture means that God’s special revelation is one’s very foundation for knowledge.
Dr. Ross may give lip service to being anchored in scripture, but we can clearly see, his methodology is to bring his own agenda into the interpretation of scripture…making his agenda the anchor.
On pg 65, Dr Ross makes an attempt to discredit the use of the Hebrew word ‘yom’ from meaning ‘a standard day, or single rotation of the earth on its axis’ in Genesis 1.
The Hebrew word yom, translated “day”, is used in biblical Hebrew (as in modern English) to indicate any of four time periods: (a) some portion of the daylight (hours); (b) sunrise to sunset; (c) sunset to sunset; or (d) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (from weeks to a year to several years to an age or epoch).
One can go through scripture and find examples for sections a, b, c and the 1st parts of d. With scripture as our anchor and so that Dr. Ross could have some justification for applying that usage to Genesis 1, where in scripture is there an example where the Hebrew word, yom is used to mean 10 billion years? Included in the box below is a comprehensive listing of the passages in scripture where yom means billions of years
Then he must have brought that understanding with him into the biblical text since it is nowhere in the Bible.
Maybe Dr. Ross will do better when he tries to explain away the specific context words that define yom to mean a standard day: evening and morning
Some people see the words translated as “evening” and “morning” as evidence that yom refers to a 24-hour period.
This is true. Biblical creationists do see this as a powerful contextual reason to not introduce wild interpretations into the text. He continues
In examining other biblical texts’ occurrences of yom, some people who promote young-earth perspective attempt to make a statistical argument. For example, authors Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor wrote, “This phrase [evening and morning] is used 38 times in the Old Testament, not counting Genesis 1. Each time, without exception, the phrase refers to a normal 24-hour-type day.”
That’s not a statistical argument. That’s using the text to interpret the text. If evening and morning are boundaries to a day that is repeated 6 times in Genesis 1, and confirmed 38 other times in scripture without exception, why would you base your entire argument on an unnecessarily imposed outlier?
Another reason that biblical creationists reject old earthism is the sequential nature of the days since the Hebrew words for “the second day, the third day, the four day…” appear in the text. This clearly indicates that the days were ordinals as opposed to cardinals (day 2, day 3, day 4…)
But Dr. Ross fights against this clarity with the following obfuscation
The claim that yom, when attached to an ordinal (second, third, fourth and so on), always refers to a 24-hour period must also be questioned Van Bebber and Taylor have said that 358 out of the 359 times yóm is used in the Bible, outside of Genesis 1 and with an ordinal modifier, it represents a 24-hour day. However, in examining each passage, the reader discovers that only 249 of these usages are the singular form of yom, and all 249 are in the context of human activity or human history. But Genesis 1 speaks of divine activity or natural history apart from, and unrelated to, human activity. Furthermore, no rule of Hebrew usage or grammar requires that when yôm appears with an ordinal it can only mean a 24-hour period.
Again, this is not as helpful to Ross’s case as he would like. Rather than building up his case for why yom can mean billions of years to accommodate his old earthism, he simply asserts that his “50 ton camel” can get through the “eye of the needle” that he claims is left open by Hebrew syntax.
In the following paragraph, Dr. Ross evaluates the writings of theologian Andrew Steinmann, who has shown that the ordinal numbers and evening/morning descriptors of the word ‘yom’ shows them to be standard days,
Steinmann’s assertions may be interesting, but do they constitute an air tight case? A word-by-word translation of Genesis 1:5b from the Hebrew reads as follows: “And was evening, and was morning day one.” Nothing in this sentence explicitly establishes yom’s duration.
That WHOLE sentence explicitly establishes yom’s duration. Conversely, how would Dr. Ross suggest God be MORE clear that He created using standard days?
Yet, using Dr. Ross’s own wording I would say “Nothing in this sentence explicitly establishes yom being able to mean 10 billion years.” Nothing in the scripture even comes CLOSE to validating the beliefs of Dr. Ross that ‘yom’ can mean anything close to 10 billion or 5 billion or 1 billion or half a billion years.
The last sentence of pg 67 reads
In either case, the wording of this verse [Gen 2:4] challenges the assertion that the word “day” (yom) in the creation account can only refer to a 24-hour period.
And yet, the context of yom in Gen 2:4 is different than the context of yom in Gen 1. Biblical creationists agree with Dr. Ross in this sentence. But the meaning of yom in Gen 2:4 is not in dispute. We are discussing the meaning/context of yom in Gen 1. And as we have discussed, the context of yom in Gen 1 (as well as the exegesis of yom in Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:17) demands that the boundaries of yom be standard 24-hour days.
Regarding the creation of the sun, moon, and stars on day 4, Ross is incredulous of biblical creationists when he writes on page 69
The problem with such a proposal is that even in a time period as brief as 24 hours, plants (and, indeed, all life) require more than just the equivalent of the Sun’s heat and light. They need everything God established during the first three creation days-a stable planet no longer hostile to life (or “formless and void”). For a stable, hospitable Earth, many specific solar characteristics, especially the Sun’s gravity, must be operational.25 In the absence of the Sun, Earth’s orbital path, rotation, atmosphere, oceans, continents, and water cycle would suffer catastrophic consequences.
Is creation too large a task for God? Are Ross’s insignificant complaints about the timing and order worth considering in light of Colossians 1:16-17?
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
“In Him all things hold together” Yes, Ross’s complaints of timing and order are insignificant in light of scripture. Especially considering that according to Ross’s beliefs, ecosystems and symbiosis between plants and animals is impossible:
Dr. Ross was verbose in this chapter, and there’s more to analyze, so we’ll pick up the remainder of the chapter 7 review in the next blog post