A Young Earth Friendly Old Earth Creationism

Genesis 1 is the beginning of the Gospel, the beginning of God’s revealed will for humanity. It reflects His heartbeat; His desire to pour out love on something and someone other than Himself. It reflects His attributes; His immense power, creativity, and providence. We should therefore approach it, not just academically, but devotionally. We should not let it divide us, but let it draw us together in honest dialog.

This is a fairly long post, that makes an attempt to show how a literal reading of Genesis, like a YEC, could allow for an old earth, like an OEC. The details are important here

@thoughful, @r_speir, @AllenWitmerMiller, @davidson, and @deuteroKJ, I am curious what you think of this article. Where does his exegesis make sense? Where does it fall flat?

I’ll respond to each point:

  1. “beginning” (Gen 1:1) as indefinite period of time, not single point - AGREE
  2. Gen 1:1 as initial act (prior to 6 days) - POSSIBLE, but it could also be a summary of the 6 Days or a dependent clause (“When God began to create…”) with v. 3 being the first independent clause (cf. NJPS, NAB) [His view here influences much of the rest of his points]
  3. Universe created in Gen 1:1 not the 6 Days - DEPENDS on #2
  4. In Gen 1:2, the already-formed earth was uninhabited and covered with a localized darkness - OK with uninhabited part, but rest is iffy (by this point he’s too concordist for me)
  5. Days are literal 24 hour days - YES but in a metaphorical week (and I don’t think sequence maps onto history)
  6. Difference between “made” and “created” - NO, too much semantic overlap and both occur together in the text
  7. Day 4 not creation of celestial lights but phenomenon of lights in sky for land-dweller - ASSUMES other conclusions (and concordism) I don’t buy
  8. Days of God’s decrees but fulfillment could’ve taken longer - Only necessary if taking a concordist route
  9. Good means suitable for God’s purposes - FINE with this (but he also denies pre-fall predators, so I disagree with him on that)
  10. There are reasonable explanations for some pre-fall animal death (i.e., tied to Satan and Dembski’s retroactive view) - NO this part is a bit nuts
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Why not proclamation day? Then they would not be a metaphorical week…this seems to be, in fact, Walton’s view too.

The traditional proclamation-day view is that God showed Moses creation over seven days (I don’t see evidence for it, nor feel the need to find a literal week somewhere). This is not Walton’s view; rather, he takes these as days of God’s declarations of purposes of creation. I don’t accept Walton’s view b/c it denies any material creation in the words “create” and “make” (though I think Walton i is right that function/order is more of the emphasis). Also, both views are more concordist than I’m comfortable with.

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Agreed. So many times over the years I’ve gone over that traditional “made vs. created” argument, and I’ve always ended up with a long list of Hebrew concordance entry counter-examples. I can understand why a clear distinction would be exegetically appealing—but it just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

Likewise. It would be nice if dependency clauses resolved everything—but they don’t. I have read countless journal articles over the years putting tons of exegetical weight on vav-consecutive (or waw-consecutive, for those who prefer) in the early verses of Genesis. And there’s that whole “The vav-consecutives in Genesis 1 absolutely prove that it is an historical narrative meant to be interpreted literally—exactly as I am interpreting it so you must agree with me!” arguments that totally put me to sleep after several hundred pages. [I’m not referring to Chad Marinelli’s Wordpress article. I thought he did a nice job of summarizing his positions. I’m just reminiscing on the Genesis 1 topic in general.]

I can see how how the Days of Proclamation view can seem overly concordist. But it is something I always share in presentations in churches so that those who require a concordist solution can reasonably resolve their discomfort—and it illustrates for all of the other students that there is certainly more than two ways to read Genesis 1. I will admit that I’ve gone back-and-forth on it over the years. Sometimes it seems really comfortable and yet at other times I feel like it is hard to study the context of the ancient culture and not feel like Days of Proclamation is an anachronistic imposition with a crowbar and a backache.

I’ve thought it but don’t usually have the guts to say it. Kudos. (And that is despite the fact that I’m a very die-hard Molinist who wouldn’t necessarily seem to be put off by causation time-loops.)

@deuteroKJ is certainly far better trained in the Genesis text than I will ever be but it appears my conclusions even in my long ago seminary days were not that different from his.


POSTSCRIPT: I’ve not told an old-rambling-professor story in a while (paging @Dan_Eastwood) —but memories flooded back when Marinelli talked about John Sailhamer and his Genesis Unbound. Back around 1986 or so, John invited me to his house when we were working on an informal project together, and I was surprised that such a young Assistant Professor could afford a lot of expensive computer equipment and such an impressive private library while raising a large family in a expensive suburb with very high property taxes. Then this huge bear of a dog walked into his study (I forget the name of the breed) and John said, “She’s about to pay for the difference between what I really need to cover my sabbatical and what the school will be paying me.” He explained that her pups would sell for about $350 each and she produced between nine and eleven per liter each year. I no longer can recall which of his writings were produced in that next sabbatical but I rarely see mention of a John Sailhamer book without wondering if his home dog-mill helped sponsor it.

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love this backstory! I loved John, crankiness and all. I just wrote a chapter in my book outlining his position. I had to distinguish his “hard version” from a “soft version” that I find more palatable. Brilliant mind with great insights, but still went to far to press his points at times.

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How exactly are they concordist?

historically concordist, i.e., having to find a real week where such-and-such happened.

That seems to beg the question.

Concordist, as I understand its negative connotation, means reading modern scientific knowledge into Scripture. But, it doesn’t take modern scientific knowledge to think the 7 days are ordinary days (but it does to think they are 24-hour days). So that can’t be concordist, certainly not how Proclamation Day works or how Walton’s view works. They think it was real days, but not days corresponding to days in material creation, so they are not arguing that modern scientific knowledge is in Scripture.

What you seem to be saying is merely “that isn’t what I think it says,” which isn’t really connected at all to concordism in a negative sense.

What am I missing?

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Introducing Chad from Middle Ground

@swamidass you are correct. A concordist interpretation is one that works hard at fitting scientific views into Genesis. Demanding a literal fulfillment of Genesis is the antithesis to concordism. In fact, I would argue that views which have figurative days are heavily concordist. I was once an Analogical Day adherent (convinced by Poythress), but I realized that I had no exegetical support for the shifting meaning of yom from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2, or thereafter.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Introducing Chad from Middle Ground

Concordism, as you know, has many definitions (I laid out many in my Biologos article: Discordant Views on Concordism - Articles - BioLogos). I don’t consider it necessarily negative in principle. I’m using a broader sense of the word in trying to harmonize the biblical text with history or science (whether that means reinterpreting the text to fit with modern notions or vice versa). Since I don’t think the text is trying to make specific historical or scientific claims, I find concordism (broadly construed) unattractive. I could be wrong, of course. But right now I don’t find the textual claims to be saying something definitive about the timing or order of creation (or proclamation). Walton, as far as I understand does see these as actual 24 hour days of God pronouncing functions. I don’t find this necessary.

He would not see them as 24 hour days (hours is a modern concept), but he does see them as ordinary days. His pretty clear about this, and I’ve asked him directly to be sure. For Walton, the 6 days of Genesis one are 6 ordinary days during which the temple is inaugurated.

So if we got in a time machine and went back, there would actually be a 6-day period in which this temple inauguration happened? That’s how I understand him.

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Yes, that’s right. So (for Walton) the six days of the Genesis 1 text correspond to six actual days in history. I don’t think that makes him a concordist.

Of course, that view is subject to criticism. Perhaps he is wrong. But it is hard to see this idea as “concordist,” unless we just mean concordism to say “that guy interprets this passage with more historical reality than I think is warranted.” But in that case, the term “concordism” really distracts from the real questions of whether there is any warrant to that interpretive layer of the text.

Curious your thoughts on this @chad: A Telling in Six Ordinary Days

Distracting or not, it is how “concordism” is sometimes used. In the end, I don’t think it’s necessary to find an actual six days in history where these events/proclamations happened.

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As I’ve laid out, this is only one definition of concordism (and not the one I’m using).

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@deuteroKJ so you aren’t willing to consider my literal exegesis because of supposed historical concordism, yet is not your figurative exegesis induced by scientific concordism? Would you be looking for a figurative interpretation of you had no access to modern science, billions of years, evolution, etc?