Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Definition of Day

One of the fun aspects of words is that they can have different meanings in different contexts. For example, in the phrase "in my father's day," the word "day" refers to a generalized period of time and not an actual day. Similarly, in the sentence "I went to the store that day," the word "day" refers to a specific 24-hour period. This can make language rather confusing but also pretty exciting and a lot of fun.

Much discussion exists over the meaning of the word "day" in the creation story. The text says that God created everything in 6 days, so everything hinges on the meaning of "day." As in the previous example, we must go to the context. At the end of God's work on each day is the phrase "There was evening and there was morning, one (a second/a third/etc) day." This very clearly describes a literal day - dark, light, then back to dark to conclude a 24-hour cycle. Furthermore, every instance in the Old Testament where the word "day" is surrounded by the mention of "evening" and "morning," it unarguably means one literal day.

This discussion over meaning never exists anywhere else in the Old Testament either. No one thinks the flood last 40 million years or 40 months or 40 hours. Similarly, Joshua's march around Jericho is generally understood to have lasted the 7 days as the Bible indicates, not 7 million years or any other measurement of time.

So why are we willing to accept God's word literally everywhere except in the creation story?

Because science offers up evidence to the contrary. This evidence deserves our attention and should not be discarded. However, we must remember that it is merely evidence and not proof - as the world would so often have us believe. Through the glasses of the world, a strong argument exists for millions of years instead of 6 days - even though, at some point, troubling questions emerge as to where everything came from and why so many exceptions to standard scientific laws exist. Through Biblical glasses though, we see that God created everything in 6 literal days. Either way, we have no proof, no certainty of how everything was really created. Only evidence which requires interpretation from a perspective. The difficult thing is that no human was around in the beginning to verify what really happened.

But God was.


Christa said...

First, let me just say that I appreciate the frequency of your blogging. Second, I like the things you have to say. thats all.

Jeff said...

i'm not sure what i think about this issue. But that's okay. Glad you shared your thoughts.

Alex said...

okay, so you know some of my thoughts about this from my post this summer. if you'd like a counter-point to the "answers in genesis" crowd that still takes the Bible seriously, I'd recommend "Creation and Time" by a guy named Hugh Ross.