Challenge 3: The Fiat Days view makes it looks like God used evolution to accomplish creation!
Answer: Then I have not clearly explained my belief in fiat creation. This misunderstanding could arise from the discussion of process being involved in creation, according to Genesis 2. (See response to Challenge 1.) Process implies time for sure, but the Fiat Days interpretation leaves open the type of processes used. Does this mean the Fiat Days view endorses the general evolutionary theory for life and man? God forbid -- not at all! The process described for the creation of Adam seems to completely preclude the evolutionary hypothesis of human ascent from non-human ancestors. Adam was made from dirt, not animals, or putative pre-human ape-like forebears. Nor do Genesis 1 and 2 indicate that any form of life sprang from another pre-existing kind. Indeed, Genesis 1 is very explicit that all the kinds were to follow “after their kind.” This does not remotely resemble the general evolutionary theory of life forming itself from non-living chemicals, and then diversifying from that original primitive cell to become all forms of life on earth. There are hints of process in chapter 1 in the statements, “let the earth produce plants,” and “let the earth produce the beasts.” But these do not necessitate an evolutionary assumption at all. On the contrary, they indicate in simple language a divine initiation of the natural cycle of life for plants and animals following the laws of physics, chemistry and biology designed by God.
There is no macro-evolution 17 implicit to the Fiat Days view. Both the inspired text and God’s natural revelation indicate that macro-evolution is NOT one of the laws God established in His design. All new kinds come into being at the right moment only because God so spoke on days three, five and six; not because nature randomly evolved all living things willy-nilly from a single ancestral cell. This misunderstanding may also come from some young earth proponents dogmatically asserting that any and all old earth views of creation are tantamount to accepting atheistic evolution. This is pure demagoguery and fear mongering in the name of God. (See the article “Young Earth or Old Earth Creationists: Can we even talk together?” at note 2.)
Others charge that accepting the processes suggested by modern physics (e.g., the Big Bang) as a candidate process God used to prepare the earth for His creative work is tantamount to accepting evolution. This is incorrect. The General Theory of Evolution is about how life came to be via biological processes. It does not address the formation and change of stars via processes of physics. The General Theory of Evolution is not dependent at all upon Big Bang cosmology. Indeed, Darwin formulated the Theory of Evolution in the early 1800’s well before the Big Bang was ever suggested in the middle of the twentieth century. If God chose to speak the entire energy-mass content of the universe into existence at the beginning of time, and then wait for that created energy-mass to do what it would by obeying the laws God designed for energy-mass (which means a spreading and cooling from infinite density energy-mass) – so be it. Nothing in Genesis 1 or the entire Bible speaks against such a view. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That statement sounds disarmingly correct to modern cosmology. 18
The Big Bang presumes creation from nothing; it is not an alternative to ex nihilo19 creation at all. Rather, it affirms creation. The data upon which the Big Bang theory of cosmology is based, and indeed the theory itself, argues in a very dramatic and convincing manner for a singular beginning for the entire universe, i.e., heavens and the earth. 20 Naturalistic atheists hate Big Bang cosmology precisely because it shows there indeed was a beginning to time, space, energy and matter. 21 Such a heavy theological finding is pure anathema to a philosophical naturalist/materialist. The philosophical implications of a universal beginning are overwhelming: a beginning of everything physical requires a Beginner outside of everything physical. Such requires a transcendent Beginner with sufficient power and wisdom to be an adequate cause of this universe. In short, a Big Bang requires a transcendent god just like the one in the Bible who speaks from on high and causes it to come to pass by the power of His Word: Jehovah God, Eternal God, I AM God. And what does a God-decreed Big Bang of something-from-nothing get us? A wet formless void earth, just like we read of in Genesis 1:2, and just like we see for all the other planets we can observe in the universe. Without God speaking it into shape, we get nothing more for earth. Earth is where we really can begin to see the hand of God as the creator of our special world. It is a very unique little blue planet just right for God to work out His plans for mankind. It was indeed very good. (See Brown and Ward’s Rare Earth, for more insight into how unique the Earth is, especially regarding its suitability for intelligent life.)
Challenge 4: If creation occurs over a long duration, how did plants live for so long without the sun? Nature has to be fully formed all at once, it can't come into existence spread out over eons.
^ This challenge forgets that God decreed light for the formless earth on day one, and thereafter there was evening and morning. Thus plants did not have to survive for eons without light. Light was decreed on day one and a day-night cycle was operating on earth prior to the call for plants’ arrival. 22 However, it is very likely from earth science that the earth’s first atmosphere would have been too dense to actually see the sun, moon or stars. Hence, it would have been like a very overcast day in which day and night still occur, but no sun is visible. Or, like it is on Venus still today. On day four the sun, moon and stars are made to serve as timekeepers for years and seasons in addition to days, which had already began with day one. One possibility is that with the fiat of day four the sky was changed so the heavenly bodies could be observed and operate in a new and more direct manner upon earth’s surface in preparation for the calling forth of animal life beginning with the fiats of days five and six.
In the larger picture, this challenge assumes God can only create within some presupposed time constraint inferred from present day operations. This unnecessarily limits God. If God wants to stretch things out, the way the natural record indicates He did, then so be it. I would further suppose in that case that God knew what was best, rather than us. 23 The natural record also indicates that things seemed to work quite nicely coming into existence in an orderly fashion over eons. Apparently, this challenge isn't even a physical constraint, much less a divine constraint. An analogy might be made with building houses. All elements of a house depend on each other: the foundation supports the walls and roof, and the walls and roof protect the foundation, etc. However, it would be folly to argue that therefore houses must be built instantaneously. Instead, we understand that houses need to be built at a pace and in a sequence consistent with the materials and processes used to make a house according to its builder’s design. So it was with creation.
Imagine describing how to build a house in only 31 verses. Why would we suppose that Genesis 1 contains all the details for creating the whole universe? As already explained, that was not its purpose at all. Indeed, if this Fiat Day approach is off the mark anywhere, it is likely to be in trying to read Genesis 1 as having anything to do with what has been learned by observing nature. It never was intended to be a science text, not even a very primitive one. Instead, Genesis 1 assured the Israelites that all those things so readily observed to exist and so readily worshipped (the sun, stars, moon, animals, waters, land, skies, man) were instead all created and made by God according to His purposes and by the power of Him just saying so. It suited His purposes perfectly. It was very good.
Challenge 5: It wouldn’t take a full day just for God to say, “Let there be light.”
Answer: Correct. The Fiat Days view does not imply that a whole day is required by God to form any of the pronouncements. But turning this challenge about, it would be just as fair a criticism of the young earth interpretation to say that a whole day is not required for God to instantaneously create light, so the young earth twenty-four hour creation day suffers from its own challenge. No young earth proponent of consecutive twenty-four hour creation days understands that God needed six twenty-four hour days. For example, they argue that the light was created to be everywhere instantaneously. Thus begging the question of what did God do with the rest of the first twenty-four day? I believe it is better for both views to understand these statements in an entirely different manner. For example, if I say I was born in 1952, no-one understands that to mean I think it took a whole year for my birth. Likewise, when God said on day one “let there be light”, no-one should understand God to mean He needed twenty-four hours to say it.
Challenge 6: When the Hebrew word yom is used with a number in scripture, it always means a twenty-four hour day. Therefore the creation days are twenty-four hour days, not long ages.
Answer: First, the grammatical premise of this challenge is fatally flawed. There is no such rule of Hebrew grammar that supports this claim. One will not find such a rule in any standard text on Hebrew grammar. Further, there are certainly instances in the Bible where this claim is demonstrably false. For example, Deut. 10:10, as noted in Young’s concordance, uses the word yom with the cardinal “one” (exactly as in Genesis 1:5) to mean forty days, not one 24 hour day. Hence, it is translated “the first time” rather than “day one” which would make no sense in that verse. So yom with a number does not always mean a twenty-four hour day. There are other similar examples, but one example suffices to show the fallacy. (See 1 Sam 7:2, 1Chrn 29:27, Hosea 6:2, and Zech 7:14.) Of course there are many cases where day with a number means a calendar day since most such instances involve the “seventh day.” This of course refers to a particular day of the week. And since the seventh day was so prominent in Jewish life, this form (day + number) shows up often in scripture. But the fact that it usually means something doesn’t mean it must always mean that. This challenge is based upon a false rule of Hebrew grammar.
Second, this challenge is irrelevant to the Fiat Day view, since the Fiat Day view accepts that the usage of yom in Genesis 1 most probably means a calendar day based primarily upon the “evening to morning” formula.
Challenge 7: Jesus’ marriage reference arguing “from the beginning of creation” in Mark 10:6 clearly shows that the creation was a very short period consistent with a week, not spread out over a long time.
Answer: This is a fairly recently-voiced argument as far as I can find. No commentary I’ve researched seems to be aware that Jesus was really commenting on the young-earth/old-earth issue when He gave this teaching on the permanence of marriage. Uniformly among the commentators, His reference is simply taken to mean that ever since the very first marriage, God’s design for marriage was one man with one woman for life. The force of Jesus’ argument is carried by referencing the first marriage of male and female during the creation, not when the first moment of creation occurred. The parallel passage in Matthew 19:4 explicitly makes this point. So when Mark records “from the beginning of creation” in the context of God’s design for marriage, it is clearly seen that Jesus refers to Genesis 2:21-25, and clearly NOT Genesis 1:1.
This argument is self defeating if it is taken as literally as the argument presumes. If Jesus really meant that marriage existed from the beginning of creation, then Jesus was wrong, which is inconceivable. The beginning of creation is Genesis 1:1. The inspired text says so. Marriage is the very last event in the whole creation account, not the beginning event. It is part of the day-six events, as recorded in Genesis 2:23-24. If meant to be taken so literally regarding the span of the creation week, Jesus should have said from the end of creation, not from its beginning. For Jesus to be wrong by six days is just as huge a challenge as to be wrong by six millennia – but only if He meant it to be taken precisely in the first place, as this challenge incorrectly presumes.
Now, those who advocate this challenge argue that it’s okay for Jesus to speak of a mere six days as “the beginning,” but inconceivable that He would accommodate a span of billions of years as “from the beginning.” That of course presumes that God experiences the same time limitations as we do. But of course scripture explicitly tells us God does not experience time as we do. In particular, Psalms 90:1 and 2 Peter 3:8 both inform us that God indeed sees what are mind-boggling millennia from our view as mere days from His view. So, this challenge is explicitly defeated by scripture. Also consider that God often speaks of long time frames in terms that would seemingly indicate a very brief span. For example, in Act 2:16 Peter tells us at Pentecost that they were witnessing the fulfillment of the “last days” prophecy of Joel. Yet, instead of those last DAYS encompassing only a few literal days that surrounded Pentecost, the last days period is the whole period that merely began on Pentecost as Christ’s reign opens up the kingdom to receive sinners into Christ. What began with those first converts on that day, continues up to now, nearly two thousand years later. “Last days” equals thousands of years. So, it is no linguistic foul in this regard if “beginning days” also spans a much longer time. Therefore, the language of Mark 10:6 does not in any way constrain the length of God’s creation process which culminated with the first marriage referenced by Jesus as the basis for marriage union ever since. Beginning days, last days – what a beautiful parallel. Unfortunately, just as the Jews and even early Christians mistook the prophecies of last days and judgment as being very immediate and short term, so now many mistake the language of creation as meaning it must have all been over and done with in a matter of hours. We make the same interpretive mistake on both ends of the time spectrum.
Today, when we want to cite book, chapter and verse we use the system published in today’s Bibles. In Jesus’ day there was no such system. To give a scripture reference in those days, teachers of the Law would cite the reference by the name of the prophet, or as part of the Law, Psalms or Prophets (e.g., Luke 24:44), or by citing the passage intended, or by summarizing the incident involved. In Mark 10:9, as any good teacher of God’s Word does, Jesus is giving His scripture reference: Genesis, The Beginning of Creation. This was especially forceful for Jesus’ argument because He thus showed that from the very first marriage (“Remember, it’s back there in Genesis in the story about the beginning of creation.”) … from the very first marriage, God’s will has been the same: one man with one woman for life. It’s a far stretch to make Mark 10:6 into commentary on the span of the prior creation week. Notice that in this passage Jesus said nothing at all about the days of creation. To claim He did is a gross twisting of the scriptures to prop up a preconception being imposed upon inspired text.
Challenge 8: If the six days of creation are spread out over vast eons as God-decreed natural processes operate, then animals were dying for a long time, in contradiction to the doctrine that all death on earth being the result of Adam’s sin, as taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5-6 and 1 Cor. 15.
Answer: That doctrine is flawed. The scriptures do not anywhere teach that no animals died before Adam and Eve sinned. No animal death before Genesis 3 is an inferred doctrine that is not so stated in scripture. Romans 5-6 (and 1 Cor. 15:22) concerns only the death of man as a result of man’s sin. It argues a contrast between Adam and Christ. By Adam sin entered the world and death by sin. In contrast, Christ brought salvation from sin to mankind. If the death that came by Adam’s sin encompassed the death of animals, then the salvation that comes by Christ also “saves” the animals from their sin. This is untenable. This doctrine of no-animal-death-before-Adam’s-sin was not actually taught by Paul. He was only speaking of human sin, human death and human salvation. Notice that Romans 5:12 is explicit in this regard. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” All men, not all living creatures.
However, advocates of the no-animal-death-before-sin doctrine point back to Genesis 1:31. It states that God viewed the whole creation in its completion and pronounced it “very good.” The self-serving claim is made that if animals had been dying it wouldn’t have been possible for God to say it was a very good creation. This is pure speculation. And it is circular speculation at that. It presumes what it argues: that “very good” equals “no animal death.” If God designed a world to perfectly accomplish His purposes (and He did), and in that world which perfectly accomplishes His purposes, animals die according to His perfect design for their role in creation, then who is so presumptuous to say God cannot pronounce His perfectly suited creation “very good?”
^ Many young earth proponents say if there was any death, or even any pain, it wasn’t “very good,” it wasn’t a perfect creation. Often times such believers have told me their belief in no-animal-death-before sin is because of their belief in certain doctrines concerning original sin. Many believers extend the idea of death as a consequence of original sin, to include all death of all living things as a consequence of Adam’s original sin “infecting” all mankind and all creation with sin and death. It is absolutely true that sin entered the world of men with Adam and Eve’s first sin, but the Bible does not teach that all men are sinners because of inheriting Adam’s sin. This idea of an inherited guilt of Adam’s original sin is directly refuted by the prophet Ezekiel in 18:14ff. Rather the biblical idea is that the world into which each person is born is since then a world in which sin dominates the lives of humans, and it has been so since the day of Adam and Eve, so even our loving parents are sinners just as were Cain and Abel’s parents. On that day the “world” was 100% infected with sin. Every living soul (Adam and Eve) were sinners. And it has remained so ever since. Thus we are born into sin, as David noted in Psalms 51: 5. David wasn’t a sinner himself as a newborn, although Psalms 58:3 indicates that sin comes very early into the lives of some. (Clearly newborns are not liars – they can’t even talk yet. This is an example of poetic hyperbole in Psalm 58.) David fell to the temptations of the world into which he was born and thus he sinned, becoming a sinner along with the rest of us. Satan roams the earth seeking to devour whomever he can, just like he pursued Job – with the Devil’s temptations giving way for our sins. It makes for a world of corruption, temptation, evil, suffering and wrath that appeals to the base aspects of our very being (Eph. 2:1-3). Result: every one of us has sinned just as Adam and Eve did (Romans 3:21). Thus, through one man sin entered the world. But we did not inherit Adam’s original sin. We are all sinners because of our own personal sin. Nowhere does the Bible speak of inherited sin, other than to say explicitly it isn’t inherited from father to son. So there is no reason to extend the consequences of Adam’s original sin to the animal and plant world. Plants and animals die because the “very good” perfect design created by God for plants and animals includes their physical demise, not because Adam sinned.
Were it not for the tree of life in the garden, it seems the same natural end would have prevailed for Adam and Eve, but by the grace of God, there was a tree of life for them. They were protected from physical death until they were prevented from eating of that tree, as a consequence of their sin. Then, they died spiritually being separated from God; and from that day forward they were dying physically as well, Genesis 5:1, as promised by God in 2:17. Without their sin, neither form of death would have happened. The same is true for us. We die physically because that’s the way God designed our physical bodies and we do not have access to the tree of life to prevent it. We die spiritually when we sin, and thus become separated from God because we cannot stand before Him in our un-right state. And one cannot do anything to recover righteousness lost. We all do it, we all sin. All except Jesus. Once Jesus came and overcame sin, He also overcame death. Just as in Adam all died, so in Christ all are made alive. He took the sting out of death so that believers no longer fear physical death because we have been made alive, reborn in baptism, (John 3 and Romans 6) unto a new life in Christ: a spirit life, not a fleshly life. (Romans 8) Sin and Satan no longer dominate us as their slaves (Romans 6). We have been made free from sin! (Galations 4) Our hope is for a new resurrected body living in Heaven with God where the tree of life stands beside the river of life for the saints to live forever with God! (Revelation 21-22) Sorry – got to preaching there.
Advocates of no-animal-death-before-sin will often point to Paul’s statements in Romans 8:19-22 that the whole creation groans in travail to bring forth the salvation of Christ. 24 Romans 8 has absolutely nothing to do with animal death. Read it carefully. There is not one word about animals dying, pro or con. In fact the figure Paul employs is just the opposite of death: it is a figure of birth, where the birth’s labor is further illustrated by laborers in bondage being set free, just as birth sets free the newborn. Romans 8:19-22 has absolutely nothing to do with death at all, it is a passage of deliverance for all of suffering mankind, and by metonymy all of creation, being born again and set free through eternal life in Christ. Indeed, we know from other passages that this physical creation is not “redeemed” like the souls of man. Rather, it will be destroyed by fire so the even the elements burn up, 2 Peter 3:10ff. The saved are collected by Jesus from the earth at His return prior to that eternal destruction, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. And the destroyed earth is replaced in His scheme of things by “a new heaven and new earth.” 2 Peter 3:13. It is this new heaven and earth which is described in Revelation 21 and 22 as the eternal home of the faithful.
Consider Psalm 104. This psalm is easily seen to be a parallel to the creation account in Genesis, as noted by all the standard commentaries. For example, verse five reads, “He established the earth upon its foundations so that it will not totter forever.” This is clearly about when God created the creation. As part of that description of the creation designed by God in particular notice verse 21.
“The young lions roar after their prey, And seek their food (meat) from God.”
From this, there should be no question that the creation God designed included the death of animals as part of His overall design from the beginning, not as a consequence of the sin of man. While this may or may not have been the rule within the Garden of Eden, protected by the tree of life, it was how God designed the whole of nature operating outside the garden from the beginning. Eden was a limited place with boundaries set by the four rivers. Beyond that we do not have any inspired description of what the creation was like, unless it is here in the 104th psalm. In that creation description, animals die.
Consider two arguments that animal death was a known factor to Adam before they sinned.
1) Eating fruit from the tree of life in the garden of Eden is what kept Adam and Eve alive, not a complete absence of the life-death cycle. In fact, if death could not operate on earth at the beginning why did they need a tree of life to keep them alive? But if death was prevented from operating on Adam and Eve by the tree, nothing in the text indicates that the tree served any similar purpose for the animals. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that animals would have been dying in accord with the natural designs for their bodies and systems. This is a good thing. For example, for Adam to eat and digest an apple requires the death of billions of rapidly reproducing organisms and cells that live in the human gut to aide in digestion. All such microscopic organisms, which play a vital role throughout the entire ecosystem, must die just as rapidly as they reproduce or else before long, a matter of only a few hours actually, the whole world would be just one big bacterial colony. Death of organisms is how life is designed to operate. Human death for Adam and Eve was held off in the garden by eating from the tree of life. As part of their punishment for sin they were isolated from the tree of life. Thus, as Genesis 5 so starkly tells us, “he died.” Ever since, man has not been able to eat from the tree of life. However, one day we will find that tree again beside the river of life in Heaven, Revelation 22. Then we will enjoy the blessings of life eternal with God.
2) In Genesis 2:17 God warns Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil saying, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.” This implies that Adam already had a concept of death. Today we claim this passage meant his spiritual death rather than physical death. This is claimed primarily because it is rather obvious from the story itself that Adam lived for hundreds of years after the day he first sinned. We correctly note from other passages that spiritual death is a separation from God. Since on the day of their sin they were cast out of the garden and thus separated from God, we conclude that is the type of death meant in God’s warning in 2:17. Well that sounds like a good argument, but ask yourself this. Is that spiritual meaning, “the plain ordinary meaning which Adam would have gotten from the warning?” Or, would Adam more likely have understood it to mean just plain ordinary physical death? I argue that Adam would have been far more likely to have understood this warning only in the sense of physical death of the type he witnessed occurring with the animals, which weren’t protected by the eating from the tree of life. But if that is the case, what about the promise to die the very day they ate from the forbidden tree? I would argue that indeed they did begin to die physically that very day. They certainly “died” spiritually as well, but that death hopefully was not permanent. Physical death was certain from that day forward for Adam and Eve. Why? Because God said so.
If God speaks (2:17), it happens (5:5)!