Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 7 (part 2)

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Anchored in Scripture 

Either Dr. Ross was verbose in chapter 7, or he wrote quite a bit that needs reviewing and correcting…maybe a little bit of both

Having viewed many videos of Dr. Ross and even interacting with him online, he ties his old earthism to a unique understanding of Jeremiah 33 and the consequences of immutable physical laws. He discusses this on pg 70 after he discusses the perceived problems of the order of creation. Dr. Ross says that it would have ruined all of God’s creation had (as Genesis 1 reveals) the Creator made Earth first and then on day 4 created the sun/moon & planets. He brushes aside the fact that the Creator of the universe would actually have had no problem with Dr. Ross’s proposed physics conundrum

As a way around these enormous complications, some young-earth creationist leaders suggest that God could have radically altered physics.” While no Christian would doubt that He could have, both biblical texts and astronomical observations support the conclusion that He did not. For example, Jeremiah 33:25 explicitly refers to “the fixed laws of heaven and earth,”

Dr. Ross seems to be saying that “the fixed laws of heaven and earth” actually bind God not to do things that would be considered outside the bounds of physics, chemistry, or biology. 

Let’s look at what Jeremiah 33 is actually talking about.

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”

So, in the context of God declaring his faithfulness to his chosen people, He references a covenant with the day and night. Might we be able to find in scripture the origin of this covenant?

About 1,500 (actual; not old earther) years after the creation of the moon (when Dr. Ross says there were all sorts of physics problems), God makes his covenant with day and night:

Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

So, even if Dr. Ross’s wild interpretation of Jeremiah 33:25 is correct (which I will show next that it is not) then the covenant God made with the night and day was not even enacted until a millennium and a half AFTER there might have been perceived problems of physics that would have bound God from doing anything because of the “fixed order/patterns of heaven and earth.” 

But Dr. Ross is not correct that God cannot suspend the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology for his glory. We see examples all throughout scripture that God can and does uphold all things for his glory rather than being bound by laws of physics, chemistry, or biology:

  • Gen 19:24, 26 (physics)
  • Gen 21:2 (biology)
  • Gen 30:41 (biology)
  • Ex 3:2 (physics)
  • Ex 7-12 (physics, chemistry, biology)
  • Ex 14:21-28 (physics)
  • Num 17:8 (biology)
  • Num 21:8-9 (biology)
  • Num 22:28 (biology, ethology)
  • Josh 6:20 (physics)
  • Josh 10:12-14 (physics, astrophysics)
    • Interestingly, the point of the passage in Joshua 10 when God stopped the movement of the sun for about one full day is that ONLY the Almighty could perform such a miracle. The Rossians have this to say about the specific instance in Joshua 10
    • “God could have brought about such effects through a supernatural meteorological event that blanketed the region with heavy darkness or refracted or reflected extra light into the desired location”
  • Judges 6:36-40 (physics)
  • I Kings 17:1-6 (physics, biology)
  • 2 Kings 4:5 (physics, chemistry)
  • 2 Kings 4:35 (biology)
  • 2 Kings 6:6 (physics)
  • Isaiah 38:7-8 (physics, astrophysics)
    • As in the Joshua 10 passage, ONLY God could perform such a miracle. Why would the Rossians continue to insist that there is a naturalistic explanation for something that ONLY God could have done? It is because they start with the wrong presuppositions…that somehow, God is bound by natural laws. Here’s what the Rossians say about Isaiah 38
    • “It is hard to imagine, however, God manipulating meteorological conditions so that sundials over the entire region between Jerusalem and Babylon would have their shadows shifted by 40 minutes without bringing about far more disturbing meteorological consequences. Alternatively, God could have temporarily shone some kind of transcendent light, like His Shekinah glory, into the cities of Jerusalem and Babylon or even upon the entire region between Jerusalem and Babylon.”
    • Not once do they even consider what the actual text says… “So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down.”
  • Jonah 2:10 (biology)
  • Matt 8:3 (biology)
  • Matt 9:25 (biology)
  • Mark 4:39 (physics)
  • Luke 5:20-26 (biology) My favorite Bible story. Jesus is God who can forgive sin. But to validate in their eyes, his ultimate authority He also healed the man’s most obvious physical needs. And everyone praised God!
  • Luke 24:6 (biology)
  • John 11:44 (biology)

Doubtless, Dr. Ross would backpedal when confronted with this argument since he probably does believe in miracles recorded in scripture. Why then would he arbitrarily choose the examples in Genesis 1 & 7 during creation & the worldwide flood to hold God accountable for Ross’s interpretation that the fixed laws of heaven and earth cannot be broken? It seems rather fallacious to me.

Ross ends this section of the book with the quote

This exegetical approach not only arises from a modern understanding of the structure of and formation of stars and planets, but also dates back to at least the 1680s.

First, Ross is NOT using an “exegetical approach”. The previous 2 paragraphs are full of quotes like 

  • “2 parts in 10,000,000,000,000,000…”
  • “past 12 billion years”
  • “Thus research confirms”
  • “God transformed Earth’s atmosphere from translucent to transparent”

Exegesis is using scripture to interpret scripture, and none of those quotes are in scripture. Dr. Ross is bringing his outside sources as authorities to interpret scripture, which is called eisegesis

Secondly, Dr. Ross is saying that for the full extent of human history until the 1680s…or more likely until he wrote A Matter of Days (2nd edition) that the people of God understood God’s revelation of origins incorrectly. (sarcasm font) Thanks Dr. Ross for revealing God’s meaning to THIS generation. Too bad all other generations missed out. (close sarcasm font). We’ve already covered in Chapter 4 of the review that Dr. Ross is incorrect when he claims that the church has ALWAYS thought the creation took billions of years. Instead the church has historically held that the Bible is true in what it proclaimed throughout – God created the universe in 6 literal days. 

In the next 2 sections, Dr. Ross critiques the views of biblical creationists’ understanding of the 6th and 7th days. With great personal incredulity, he declares that Adam could not possibly have done the things described in Genesis 2 on a single day:

Considered together, many weeks, months, or even years worth of activities took place in this later portion of the sixth day:

  • Adam engaged in four different careers, or apprenticeships, on the sixth creation day (gardening, studying animals, naming animals, and learning how to relate to Eve).

  • Adam and Eve learned how to manage Earth’s resources for the benefit of all life. To be meaningful and beneficial, such important education and training could not have been crammed into only a few hours.

 

Careers? Four career? Let’s analyze what the text of Genesis 2 actually tells us about Adam’s four “careers”

  • Gardener – Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” There doesn’t seem to be a mention of a career there. From the actual text, we see that God did yet even clearly tell him to work the garden…just the Adam was put in the garden to take care of it. 
  • Zoologist – Dr. Ross said Adam had a career of studying animals, but I couldn’t even find a verse in Genesis 2 that would remotely describe Adam as a zoologist. But didn’t Dr. Ross title this chapter: Anchored in Scripture? Looks like AGAIN, Dr. Ross brought his own interpretations into the text. Dr. Ross is indeed an Eisegesis Ninja
  • Zoonominalogist – This is a career? A Quick internet search shows that approximately 0% of humanity is employed as a zoonominalist. When we read Gen 2:19-20, it’s clear that God brought the beasts of the field and the birds to Adam for him to name. But someone might ask, “Aren’t there millions of species on Earth? How could Adam name millions of animals in a single day.” It’s a fair question, but the (false) assumption is that Adam named each SPECIES. Adam could have taken care of his God-given task in seconds by saying “Mammal, reptile, amphibian, behemoth, birds, and those accursed Philadelphia Eagles.” Perhaps another tactic Adam could have taken would have been to identify them by their locomotion, “quadruped, bipedal, tree-swingers, flighted birds, flightless birds, and those evil Philadelphia Eagles.” This article from creation.com describes how easily Adam could have named the animals in as little as an hour.
  • Husband – Hardly a career, but truly one of the most rewarding experiences in life is loving one’s wife with God’s love. From the text, again it is clear that Adam was not expected to know everything or be perfectly harmonious with his wife on their 1st day together. I’m not sure where Dr. Ross gets his expectation that Adam had a career’s worth of knowledge in dealing with his wife from the short text of their introduction such that it “could not have been crammed into only a few hours.”

Ross’s case against the clear reading of scripture is based on his personal incredulity, misunderstanding of the text, and his commitment to old earthism.

Of the seventh day, Ross writes:

While each of the first six creation days is marked by a beginning (“morning”) and an ending (“evening”), no such boundaries are assigned to the seventh day, neither in Genesis 1 and 2 not anywhere else in the Bible. Given the parallel structure in the narration of the creation days, such a distinct omission from the description of the seventh day strongly suggests that this day has (or had) not yet ended.

Ross appears to be saying that since the Bible never explicitly defined the end of day 7, that day 7 persists from then to now and beyond. So, he makes the connection, that since he can interpret “day” 7 to be very long, then he can interpret the other “days” to be epochs. 

Let’s analyze that first claim about day 7 not having an ending. Is it reasonable to say “Since the Bible did not explicitly state something, then it did NOT happen” ? The Bible never explicitly said that Eve ever slept. Are we to conclude that Eve never slept? Of course not, but this is the progression of thought that Ross is employing here. Secondly, we know that the United States declared its independence from England on July 4th, 1776, and the United States is still a country. Does this mean that it’s been July 4th ever since that time? Again, Ross’s logic is flawed. We can verify this by looking in scripture in Exodus 20:9,11 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 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. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

If as Ross contends, the LORD made the heavens and earth in six epochs and then rested (and continues to rest) for the 7th epoch, were God’s people expected to work continuously for millions and billions of years until God gives them 7th epoch rest? 

We can notice from the passage that God’s pattern is clear: Just as He worked 6 days, his people are to work for 6 days. And just as He rested on the 7th day, his people are to rest on the seventh day. The expectation is that the weekly cycle resets after the 7th day, but Ross’s theory fails to consistently  address this continual reset.

An inset on pg 74 tries to explain the fossil record from an old earthist perspective. Ross proposes that new species “came into existence” in previous millennia, but he doesn’t say how. If we exegete Ross’s writings, we know he favors naturalistic evolution for the emergence of space, stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, chemicals, water…One has to wonder that although he states his distaste of Darwinism, why he breaks from his naturalistic evolutionary dogma of the cosmos when it comes to biology (?)

Also, instead of using the biblically defined biological categories of kinds, Ross joins Darwinists in his description of the emergence and extinction of life by species, which are not the same as kinds. We’ll show how Ross’s interpretation of the fossil record is full of epicycles and just-so-stories rather than the biblical explanation of the global flood in future chapter reviews. Suffice it to say now that the worldwide flood of Noah’s day accurately accounts for the layers, fossils, and age of the earth in much greater accord than Ross’s incongruent theory.

Ross closes out Chapter 7 with a section titled Biblical Clocks. His idea is that one should be able to grasp the billions of years of history from the texts below:

Bible writers often compared God’s eternal existence to the longevity of the mountains or the “foundations of the earth.

  • Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. (Psalm 90:2)

  • When there were no oceans, I [wisdom] was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. (Proverbs 8:24-26) 

  • Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever….All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again….It was here already, long ago. (Ecclesiastes 1:4,7,10)

  • Hear, O mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. (Micah 6:2)

All these passages depict the immeasurable antiquity of God’s presence and plans. The brief span of a 3,000-year terrestrial history

But 3,000 years IS A LONG TIME! Only from Ross’s old earthist perspective is 3,000 years just a blink. But for the writers of scripture, 3,000 years is 150 generations. From David’s and Solomon’s and Jeremiah’s perspectives, the earth and it’s mountains were ancient. From our perspective today, the 1,000 year old castles of Europe are almost unfathomably ancient. Several times, Ross used translations of Hebrew words like everlasting, which modern translations (ESV) show as “enduring”. 

What’s even more interesting to me, is if when Adam and Noah and Moses were given their accounts of creation, why God did NOT choose to refer to the Earth or mountains as ancient from their perspective. Since for Ross, 3,000 years is just a blink, why did God not communicate to Adam that the Earth was ancient? It’s because, as God confirms in Mark 10:6, Adam was formed at the BEGINNING of creation…not the end.

Praise God for the consistent nature of his revelation. As Christians, we do not have to redefine the words in the Bible to accommodate modern academic paradigms or cultural changes in sexuality or political revolutions as we have seen Dr. Ross do. God’s Word is eternal and we can trust God to keep his word regarding the future since we can trust his revelation from the past.

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 7 (part 1)

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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 introductionregarding 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

EmptyBox

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.

Nothing? NOTHING?!?!?

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

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 6

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Toward Better Interpretations

As Christians, we should all be like the Berians in Acts 17 – examining the scriptures everyday to make sure that the words spoken are true. Dr. Ross has written words in a book, so we will examine the scriptures to see if what he has said is true. The following is a picture from p53

Ch6

I agree with the bullet point list that Dr. Ross has included. This is a good start, and a point of agreement between biblical creationists and old earth advocates. 

On the same page, Dr. Ross writes 

Second, the Bible also declares that the record of nature is a reliable and understandable means for God to speak to people

He goes on to list Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:18-20 as confirmation of this statement. But what does he mean by “record of nature”?

As already noted in the Introduction and The Creedal Climate, Ross views the record of nature as the 67th book of scripture – with the same authority as the eternal word, so I won’t go into that same rebuttal here. What I will say is that what Ross means is 

record of nature = “the old age interpretation of observations”

But this is NOT true. The record of nature looks exactly as one would expect from a biblical creationist’s perspective.

Ross then raises three reasons why there is a controversy between old and young earth proponents:

  • Language Barriers
  • Human Limitations
  • Inadequate Testing

Language Barrier

In the section on language barriers, he attributes the disagreement between old and young earth views to the English language.

By no coincidence does the creation-day controversy rage most fiercely among English-speaking Christians. Such readers of the Bible may be unaware of the nuances of meaning in the various Hebrew verbs used to describe God’s creative activities in Genesis 1 and 2.

There are English speaking scholars, to whom this topic is quite important, and Dr. Steven Boyd is one such scholar. In his technical paper: Statistical Determination of Genre in Biblical Hebrew: Evidence for an Historical Reading of Genesis 1:1-2:3, Dr. Boyd has determined with 99.9973% accuracy that the text itself is narrative as opposed to poetic. 

NarrativeVsPoetry

While I’m quite sure many English speakers are unaware of nuances in the Hebrew language, I’m not nearly as sure that Dr. Ross is aware that the Hebrew calendar is different from the more common (in the west) Gregorian calendar in use today. The Gregorian calendar year, as I write this is 2020. The Hebrew calendar is calibrated to count years forward from the creation week, and the current Hebrew calendar year is 5780. And while modern Hebrew language is not exactly like the biblical Hebrew, it is easily recognizable as the same language. So, the Hebrew-speaking people, who are more familiar with Hebrew language nuance celebrate 5780 years since creation. So, Dr. Ross, shouldn’t claim authority in the Hebrew language, when the Hebrew calendar strongly supports biblical creation rather than old earthism. 

In the very next sentence, Dr. Ross says of the Hebrew word “yom”:

With so many words in English to describe long time periods (having specific start and end points), many readers don’t realize that in biblical Hebrew only once such word exists.

This is totally false

There are several Hebrew words that describe long time periods

  • Zeman H2165 – appoint time, season (Ecc 1:1)
  • Eth H6256 – time, occurance (Ecc 1:1)
  • Qedem – Ancient
  • Olam – days of old
  • Tor – Generations of days/nights
  • Tamid – Continuation of days
  • Ad – forever
  • Shanah – Year, or in the plural could mean a very long time

Yet, God chose to communicate his creative works as having taken six days, which is a word that has clear meaning both in the Genesis 1 text and confirmed to be ordinary days in Exodus 20:11. To communicate something like what Dr. Ross proposes, God could have chosen to use

  • Any one of those Hebrew words for long time periods as shown above
  • Plural of “yom” in conjunction with a word for a great multitude of days
  • Poetic language of a great magnitude of days like He did with Abram: Gen 15:5 (stars of the sky, sand on the seashore)

But this is not the case. God used the word “yom” and it has definite boundaries of meaning, which do not include billions of years. Nowhere in scripture can we find anything that means what Dr. Ross would like to attribute to the word “yom”. He has no exegetical grounds to make this claim.

 

Human Limitations

In this section, Dr. Ross tells a story of “more than one young-earth creationist leader”, who is unwilling to study further or have ongoing dialogue. It sounds like he is leaning towards using the sweeping generalization fallacy against ALL young-earth creationists: Since a few think this way, they ALL must think this way. Had he done any reading on the teachings of biblical creationists at ICR, AIG, or CMI, he would know that Bible study is very important to these well-qualified scientists and scholars. 

I wonder if Dr. Ross is willing to reconsider his view based on the rebuttals included herein (or by other faithful Christian scientists/scholars)…or if Dr. Ross’s encouragement for people to “overcome biased and incomplete interpretations” is intended only for his opponents.

Testing Interpretations

In the first part of this section, I am in agreement with Dr. Ross when referring to John Moore’s analysis of creation vs. evolution, where Moore says “(creation) is based on faith” and “(evolution) is based on confirmable evidence.” Dr. Ross writes:

Current culture subscribes to this false dichotomy: facts and faith don’t mix. Yet the Bible claims that faith is built on reasonable evidence. Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the importance of testing, of making sure the evidence supports the truth claims.

The creation account in Genesis is eye-witness testimony from the Almighty, who knows everything, and is eternally faithful. We can trust his revelation from the historical account in Genesis…so we would expect the observations of evidence to match his revelation. This is exactly what is observed today

Conversely, those who claim that science has disproved the Bible, or in Dr. Ross’s case – forced a radical re-interpretation of scripture to accommodate the modern paradigm, are burdened with conflicting observations:

Ross continues:

Both the and New Testaments emphasize the importance of testing, of making sure the evidence supports truth claims. Moses instructed the Israelites to test individuals who claimed to be speaking or writing under divine inspiration (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). The prophet Malachi quoted God as saying,

“Test me in this” (Malachi 3:10). The apostle Paul urged Christ’s followers, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The apostle John similarly wrote, “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1John 4:1).

I agree, that we should test. The Bible is correct again! Where Dr. Ross stumbles, is the STANDARD by which we are to test. His claims are that we should test against the findings of modern academic paradigms. As Christians, we should test against SCRIPTURE. The standard is God’s special revelation in his eternal Word…not the ever-changing interpretations of observations.

To be fair to Dr. Ross, he does not entirely miss the importance of testing against the scriptures as he writes:

In addition, Luke affirmed the importance of testing by complimenting people in Berea who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). The Bereans set an important example for us as they tested Paul’s words and checked his teaching against the law, history, songs, and prophecies preserved through the centuries with confirmed accuracy

Even in that quote, we can see that Ross expects outside sources to be accurate authorities by which scripture can be confirmed. But outside sources (indeed all of creation) must bend the knee to God and his eternal Word.

Later on p57, I find myself again agreeing with Dr. Ross when he pens

History reveals that the scientific method of investigation-a method developed by Renaissance men well-grounded in God’s Word-has its roots in Scripture. Biblical convictions and values, as well as intellectual drive and prowess, gave rise to the scientific age. The modern scientific revolution emerged at both the times and locations of the Protestant Reformation. Scottish theologian Thomas Torrance and an interdisciplinary team of scholars have documented how Christian theology (and Reformed theology in particular) played a critical role in the birth and development of the scientific method that led to amazing advances.

God’s revelation permits and encourages science. Believers need not fear science. ALL truth is God’s truth, and the more that is discovered, the more God’s special revelation is corroborated. The more we can glorify God for his amazing designs

In his section titled “Evaluating Interpretations”, Ross writes

Much of the conflict concerning the creation account comes from the presumption that the biblical teaching on creation resides primarily in Genesis 1 and 2. Christians and non-Christians tend to develop their interpretations of Genesis 1 and 2 without testing them for consistency with the other 21 creation-relevant passages in the Bible.

Ross then includes the chart on the following page:

p59Chart

Since this section is titled evaluating interpretations, let’s evaluate this chart. As Hebrew scholars note, Genesis 1-11 is intended by the author for his readers to see the text as historical narrative and not poetry. The rest of Genesis is also history, but old earthers want to arbitrarily segment Genesis 1-11 as somehow metaphorical in nature to avoid the refutation of their view that comes with consistency. So, Genesis is historical narrative and should be read as intended: history. This is in opposition to the Psalms, which are considered poetic in nature. In Ross’s interpretations, he values Psalm 104 above all other creation-relevant passages because he feels this passage restricts the worldwide flood of Noah’s day to a mere local flood. However, in the same passage that Dr. Ross feels in ironclad proof, Psalm 104 includes these poetic phrases:

  • You (the LORD) are clothed with splendor
  • He wraps Himself in light as with a garment
  • He stretches out the heavens like a tent
  • He lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters
  • He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind
  • He makes the winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants

All of these statements are true, but they are not literal. They are poetic and should be interpreted as such. Yet, counter to proper hermeneutics, Dr. Ross re-interprets the historical account of Genesis 6-9 (and Isaiah 54:9 and 2 Peter 3:5-6) based on this graphically symbolic poetry  and mandates that the rest of Psalm 104 is giving historical & chronological accounting. Not good exegesis.

Digging deeper into his chart, Dr. Ross denotes that Genesis 3 tells of the introduction of sin into God’s very good creation. We know that God’s creation (prior to sin) was “very good” because seven times in Genesis 1, God calls his creation “good” and on the pinnacle seventh time, He says “very good.” And we know that animals and humans were mandated to consume fruits, nuts, and vegetables prior to the rebellion of mankind. But Dr. Ross believes there was millions of years death, cancer, suffering, predation and thorns prior to the sin of mankind. Yet, Genesis 3 tells us specifically that the curse of sin is death, suffering, and thorns. How does Dr. Ross get away with such extreme contradictions? He unsuccessfully tries to accommodate death, disease, suffering and thorns as “Very Good” in Chapter 9. We’ll cover more about that in a couple of chapters. But even now, you can see that he simply inserts his own assumptions & definitions into the text in DIRECT OPPOSITION to the actual words to save his old earth theory.

Looking again at the chart, why would Dr. Ross NOT include key creation-relevant verses like Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:17, Isaiah 54:9, Matthew 23:35, Matthew 24:38-39, & Mark 10:6? Could it be that he avoided them because they refute his old earth theory? We’ll discuss these specific passages in the subsequent chapters when Dr. Ross does finally recognize and try to account for them.

 

Testability and Predictability

In this section Ross writes a plea to those who are interested in testing opposing creation models. 

One of the most important tests of an interpretive model (detailed interpretation of a particular phenomenon or a related set of phenomena) is how well the model survives vigorous attempts to falsify it and how accurately it ‘predicts’, or anticipates, discoveries.

That’s not an unfair statement, but before considering falsifiability, one must have an ultimate authority. For the Christian, the ultimate authority is God and his Word. So, before any testing of conflicting creation models empirically, the models must be consistent with scripture. As shown and will continue to be shown as the review continues, old earthism fails to be consistent with scripture unless massive redefinitions of key words and passages is performed.

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Scripture Corroborated

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This writer offers an excellent analysis of the argument between a local and global flood. Old earthers argue that if there even was a flood, it was a minor local flood in the Mesopotamian valley. You can see from the critique below, that this local flood view is in direct conflict with scripture and the evidence seen today

The Noachian Deluge: Does Scripture Say Global, or Local?

 

From the article:

In sum, believe the local flood theory faces many more practical issues than the global view, not the least of which is the lack of support from Scripture.

Any support found for the local view seems to be based on spurious hermeneutics and fallacious exegesis, and the same is true of passages leveled against the global view. Further, as we saw, the local view faces what I think to be insurmountable difficulties both Scripturally and scientifically, and the assumptions involved are the real crux of the matter.

Once we abandom uniformitarian assumptions, the global view is not only possible, but seems to best and most reasonably explain the data from science, Scripture, and even culture.

I therefore conclude that, with respect to the Noachian Deluge, Scripture emphatically says “global!”

Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 5

The Creedal Climate

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In chapter 5, Ross attempts to build a case that the ecumenical creeds produced by historical Christian counsels failed to include any mention of the importance of the Genesis 6 day creation account. He writes:

If all pre-Darwin Christians unanimously and unambiguously held one view on the length of the creation days, evidence for such a position would likely be found in the creedal statements written during the first 1700 years of church history.

What Ross fails to realize here is that one of the purposes of the early Christian creeds  was to identify and resist heresies from becoming malignant in the church. Old Earthism, including death, suffering, thorns, and predation prior to the sin of mankind did not infect the culture or church until the 19th century. So, the authors of the creeds would have seen no need to protect the church from old earthism or its effects. 

In both the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith and the The Westminster Confession of faith from 1643 the unambiguous message of chapter IV states:

“It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.” [emphasis mine]

If, like Ross and the followers declare, death, disease, suffering, predation, and thorns were present in God’s good creation from the beginning (prior to the sin of mankind), what’s the big deal about God’s curse in Genesis 3? Adam could have heard god’s curse and said, “There’s already death, suffering and thorns. Looks like it’s not that big a deal” The Rossians must conclude that God intended death, suffering, predation, and thorns to be very good.

While death, disease, suffering, and predation prior to sin brings either God’s character or the plain meaning of goodness into question, the discovery of fossil thorns in rock layers that old earthers date prior to mankind brings their entire theory into jeopardy.

From the article A Thorny Issue:

To reiterate, Christians who accept the secular millions-of-years interpretation of the geologic layers and the fossils embedded within have to face up to the issue of thorns (and pain, death and suffering) before sin.

But with a correct (biblical) view of thorns, Jesus’ death on the cross takes on greater poignancy. On His head he bore the consequences of the first man’s rebellion against the Creator.

As Ross stated before, the Heidelberg and Belgic confessions did not address the issue of the age of the earth, but on p49 Ross points to Article 14 of the Belgic confession as having special importance. The Belgic Confession says:

“We know him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God”

Ross changes the phrasing of this section to build a doctrine onto which he constructs the framing of his old earthism

Belgic Confession: “We know him [God] by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God…All these things are enough to convict men and to leave them without excuse. Second, he makes himself known to us more openly by his holy and divine Word.” [emphasis mine]

Ross Confession: “believers are to treat nature’s record as a beautiful book with the same authority as the Bible.”

The authors of the Belgic Confession clearly did not have the same thing in mind as Dr. Ross. Dr Ross conjures up this doctrine with the claim that it was what the Belgic authors intended. As mentioned before, the creation (which according to Gen 3 & Rom 8) has been subjected to corruption, CANNOT be of the same authoritative supremacy as God’s Holy eternal word. Yet, over and over Dr. Ross elevates his “book of nature” over scripture and changes the definitions of words in scripture to be in accordance with the modern paradigm’s interpretation of observations. 

To end this chapter, Dr. Ross does indeed mention the Westminster Confession of Faith. He attempts to discredit the “young-earth” views of most of the authors, but falls short of his intended smear. Knowing that he was fighting an uphill battle from a compromised foundation, on p51 Ross says, 

In one sense, what the Westminster divines personally believed about the dates for creation remains immaterial.

Except they were clearly in disagreement with Ross’s old earthism

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 4

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Wisdom of the Ages

In this chapter, Dr. Ross laments the idea that biblical creationists have published saying that for the balance of church history, the church has taught and believed in a recent creation. Dr. Ross gives examples of scholars from the 1st – 4th centuries that had doubts of the six day creation.

  • Philo – “It is quite foolish to think that the world was created in six days or in a space of time at all.”
  • Justin Martyr- Dr. Ross mentions Martyr, but not why he believes Martyr questioned the teachings of scripture.
  • Hippolytus – from Dr. Ross “most of his writings have been lost. What scholars have recovered gives no explicit indications of what he believed about the duration of the creation days or about the dates for creation beyond his statements that humans have resided on Earth for only several thousand years”
  • Eusebius – from Dr. Ross “However, nowhere did Eusebius address the universe’s or Earth’s creation dates or the length of the Genesis days.”
  • Ambrose – “Scripture established a law that twenty-four hours, including both day and night of one day should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.”

If those are the scholars upon which Ross is relying to build a case that the church has historically held an old earth view in contradiction to the “young earth” view, he is sorely lacking in having built a case to favor his view. Instead of constructing an airtight case that the church has historically held to an old earth view, his outliers didn’t really help his case. 

In deafness to his own plea from chapter 1 not to be disrespectful to those Christians with whom he disagrees, on p42 Dr. Ross is disrespectful to those with whom he disagrees:

Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first, and the second, and the third day, and the evening and the morning existed without the Sun, Moon, and stars?

For an astronomer and astrophysicist, I would have expected Dr. Ross to know that the definition of a day is simply “a single rotation of the Earth on its axis”, but instead he mocks biblical creationists for their understanding of scripture’s teaching that there were days prior to the creation of the sun. This is not a problem at all for biblical creationists. From looking through scripture (2 Cor 4:6, Isa 60:19, Micah 7:8, Rev 21:23), it is not a stretch to say that God provided the necessary light until on day 4, He placed his created light sources in the heavens to bring Him glory. 

The problem is for the old earthers, who must account for billions of years prior to the sun/earth standard for defining a year.

  • How do the old earthers calibrate a year without the emergence of the sun/earth pair that defines a year?
  • What were time units called before the sun/earth combination?
  • How do they know there were almost 10 billion years…or ambiguous time units prior to the stellar objects necessary for the definition of a year actually existed?
  • They have a genuine problem with time, whereas the biblical creationist does not. 

A few pages later on p45, Ross continues his analysis of the early church fathers when he writes:

They wrote long before astronomical, geological, paleontological evidence for the antiquity of the universe, Earth, and life had been discovered.

Since he is trying to build a case that the universe is old instead of young, rather than actually building a case here, he simply states it. This is the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

Chapter 4 was both short in length and short on compelling arguments for Dr. Ross.

 

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Review – A Matter of Days – Chapter 3

The Clouds Burst 

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In this chapter, Ross attempts to plant the idea that “young-earth creationism” is a modern day cult. On p30 he writes

By 1980, nearly every American evangelical church and the school had been swayed by young-earth creationist teachings…Societies along the lines of the CRS (Creation Research Society) and ICR formed in more than two dozen nations.

Simply by reading God’s word, one sees the that “young-earth creationism” is the logical conclusion. With deeper and more comprehensive Bible study, a Berian finds that the “simple” reading is confirmed. It’s even a fabulous bonus that organizations committed to the authority of scripture in their scientific research (Answers In Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and the Institute for Creation Research [ICR] ) find that the evidence is in perfect alignment with both the simple reading and the comprehensive study of God’s special revelation.

In an inset on p33, Dr. Ross inadvertently destroys his only basis for knowledge when he ridicules presuppositionalism. He writes:

According to some of its advocates, presuppositionalism says all human reasoning and interpretation of scientific evidence must be subordinate to a “biblical” interpretation of reality.

 

It might have sounded hyperbolic to say that presuppositionalism is the only basis for knowledge. Much has been written on this topic, and you can see an example of this apologetic method here, but I will provide a short primer below

 

  1. Since all of humanity suffers from the influence of sin, even our reasoning and senses are subject to the curse of sin. (Genesis 3:17-19, Romans 1:18-23,Romans 8:18-27). So, trying to place one’s epistemological foundation on human reasoning or scientific observations of a corrupted creation is insufficient for true knowledge. By the gift of grace, when a person repents of their rebellion, a person can have an epistemology that is uncorrupted (Pr 1:7, Isa 33:6, Ps 111:10, Col 2:3).
  2. God has revealed Himself in creation, which has since been corrupted by the curse of sin. God has revealed Himself in his special revelation, which is the eternal Word of God. God has revealed Himself in Jesus
  3. God is the foundation of truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic, which are immutable, abstract, & absolute. All of these things are necessary for empiricism. Empiricism works because these absolutes are unchanging. (Prov 1:7, Isa 33:6, Psalm 111:10, Col 2:2-3)
  4. God is immutable, transcendent and absolute, so He provides a sufficient and necessary justification for truth, morality, induction, knowledge & logic.
  5. Presupposing God is necessary to know anything, and because God has revealed Himself in the uncorrupted person of Jesus and His Word, we can be certain of everything He has revealed in his word. If outside sources (corrupted) have authority over the interpretation of God’s Word (uncorrupted), then the perfect epistemic foundation is no longer the highest authority but subject to those outside sources.

From pages 32-34 the “appearance of age” theory is panned by Dr. Ross. The “appearance of age” theory was a model introduced by a few biblical creationists in the early 1970s.  Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Gary North, who pushed the model:

The Bible’s account of the chronology of creation points to an illusion…The seeming age of the stars is an illusion…Either the constancy of the speed of light is an illusion, or the size of the universe is an illusion, or else the physical events that we hypothesize to explain the visible changes in light or radiation are false inferences.

Today, most creationists reject this model because there are too many time-limiting “clocks” that limit the age of the earth to under 10,000 years…just like the Bible says.

Also in this section, Dr. Ross quotes Dr. Marvin Lubenow who said, “There is no general Bible-science conflict if one recognizes the domain of science to be primarily in the present and involving the investigation of present-day phenomena.”

I agree with Dr. Lubenow on this point. Scientific concepts can assist with finding out about past events, but not at the expense of eye-witness testimony from the Almighty…which Dr. Ross tries to do time and again.

On a side note, I highly recommend Dr. Lubenow’s book, Bones of Contention. It has been one of my favorite books. If you have an interest in fossils and completely refuting the old earther’s story about human evolution, you will appreciate this book too.

On pg35 Ross introduces the idea that young-earth creationism drives people away from God.

Many people who have never looked into the matter for themselves assume that Scripture clearly says God created everything in 144 hours, just 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Given the scientific implausibility of such a position, many people reject the Bible without seriously considering its message.

  1. Ross pans biblical creation because of its “scientific implausibility”. Can anyone else think of other things (besides creation) recorded in scripture that are scientifically implausible?
    1. Exodus 14:21-22 The waters of the Red Sea parted at God’s command (scientifically implausible)
    2. 2 Kings 6:6 Axhead floats (scientifically implausible)
    3. Matt 1:18 Virgin gives birth (scientifically implausible)
    4. Luke 24 Jesus rose from the dead after 3 days in the grave (scientifically implausible)
    5. There are many other examples of “scientifically implausible” events that God brought about for his glory. So for Dr. Ross to hinge his argument on the “scientifically implausible” account of creation, brings his unbiblical old earthism into serious question.
  2. If one cannot trust God’s account of creation, why should they trust his ability to forgive rebellion? The same Creator, Jesus, provided his own body as the vessel to take on God’s wrath for sin, so that salvation for mankind could be achieved. Trusting the Creator (even if that account of creation seems implausible) is faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
  3. Ross gives an example “One physician I know, though hungry for spiritual truth, ignored the Bible and the Christian faith for years because he couldn’t get past some believer’s insistence that the Bible’s first page taught a recent 144-hour cosmic creation.”
    1. Could this physician get past a virgin getting pregnant?
    2. Could this physician get past complete & instantaneous healing of a quadriplegic man?
    3. Could this physician get past the resurrection of a body after being dead for 3 days?
    4. The problem for this physician and with others who reject the miracles of the Bible (including creation) is not miracles, but the God of miracles. If miracles could be explained naturally, they wouldn’t be miracles that bring glory ONLY to God. God revealed his great power over nature, and by having faith in God’s revelation, we praise Him. 

To close chapter 3 Dr Ross says: 

Now is the time to make every effort-short of compromising either the words of the Bible or the facts of nature-toward a peaceful resolution.

As I spoke about in my review of the Introduction, Ross again erroneously claims that the “facts of nature” have the same authority as God’s eternal Word. All facts are interpreted according to one’s worldview. So, if Ross assumes modern academic paradigms are the highest authority, he will use that framework to interpret scripture. But as I’ve already said, nature has been subjected to corruption (Genesis 3, Romans 8), and so any interpretation one gets from observations of nature are also subject to that corruption. Trying to elevate the corrupted “facts of nature” over God’s eternal Word is an exegetical no-no!

 

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