Monday, July 16, 2007

Yom - don't be ridiculous




Did God use evolution in Genesis 1-3? I did a study of this several years ago and as I concluded then, the more I conclude now, my answer is : I do not think so.

I came to this conclusion by studying the word "yom", the Hebrew word for "day" as used in the Hebrew Bible in Gen 1. Now, I am no Hebrew expert but I did take university subjects in Biblical Hebrew for a couple of years and I think I was taught enough to know what are the arguments going on surrounding this word. I believe the word "yom" stood for "24 hour day" as we know day to mean in the normal day to day usage of day (pun intended) to mean, ie just that. Why? I have several reasons, both linguistic, philosophical and theological.

1. If Moses wrote this to his contemporaries, "yom" could not be understood as a very very long period of time. The reason is that the ancients do not have sophisticated arithmetic notion of millions and millions of years. (My knowledge of maths come here too). So, in order to give a notion of evolution, Moses would have to say God took myriads and myriads of time for things to sprout on the earth. Also, ancient people are so into changes in seasons, they have this notion of cycles and at home with it. Evolution counters the notion of cycles, even if theistic evolutionist say that "yom" means epochs. This granting of cycles for day is an argument itself against the notion of evolution, for evolution has no cycles. It is just one long continuum of time when you come to think of it.

2. If theistic evolution is the way to understand Gen 1 narrative, then it rids itself of literalness. If day is not literal then, was there a tree? Was there an Adam and Eve? Was there a serpent? Or are we to understand these as representing something else? Was there an actual eating of the forbidden fruit? In effect, was there sin? This completely throws off the need for atonement. If Jesus died for a literal sin, then there must have been a literal Adam too, and so on, and hence it has to be a literal day for there is a literal world that God is stated to have created.

3. Evolution requires and implies death of previous life forms. Then death happened before sin came, and collides with, Rom 5:12. According to this verse, death only happened due to sin. Evolution presupposes dying and decay prior to sin thus it does not square with the other implications of Scripture. A friend of mine even suggested that the lions around have always eaten other animals during Adam's time. I said, then it was possible for Adam to have been mauled by a ferocious beast and could have died then. Think of these lions stalking and pouncing upon weak isolated water buffaloes, look at one here

4. Lastly, I do not have to resort to the validations of Science to affirm my faith. The concept of fiat creation is at home with the nature of a Supreme Creator who is by definition the Judeo-Christian God. I find it weak to say, God had to use evolution in the process. God does not have to be patient here although he is patient with sinners not desiring their destruction but their repentance.

This reminds me, of Balki, one of the main characters of Perfect Strangers, one which I enjoyed watching very much. His famous line is "don't be ridiculous". I hear some people out there telling me that now.

Frankly I do not mind being called ridiculous because I already believe in something that sounds ridiculous, one of them is the Gospel. Let me challenge you, if you think that the Gospel which says that this God takes the sins of the wicked world, dumps it and punishes it in his innocent Son is not ridiculous, you may have a natural understanding of the Gospel. The Bible says the world calls this thing foolishness. If I believe in something the world ought to be calling foolish, why should I not let them call me a fool for believing in a fiat Creation which Science says is contrary to "evidence"?

If our minds are not astounded by the Gospel, if it does not say "this thing is so good to be true", we may have gotten the Gospel wrong, it should sound ridiculous and radical. Of course, it is out of this world. Am I making sense?

8 comments:

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito,

Thank you very much for the above posting, which I wholeheartedly agree. There's much that I agree with you. Praise the Lord! I don't know why so-called Christians have to 'give in' to evolutionism when there's really no 'scientific' *basis* let alone the evidence in the first place.

Keep up the good work! Please let me know when you are down in Kuala Lumpur! I would like to meet up with you. Maybe I could also ask you to buy one or two books from Australia too. TQ

In Christ,
Jason

L P Cruz said...

Dear Bro. Jason,

I find too that we have much that we share.

You too, keep up your posting as well.

Perhaps when you are in Melbourne you can let me know too and I will do the same when God grants us to visit again KL and yes I shall be delighted to bring some choice books for you.

Peace in the Lord,

Lito

Anonymous said...

Lito,

My own personal view is that I buy into evoluion (because I know I'm not a feckin' scientist) but accept the plausibility of a literal Genesis. Perhaps just not enough faith? Perhaps.

Anyway, I'm a bit interested in your mention of Hebrew. Something did come to mind, namely the use of day as "age", such as "Day of the Lord", which we surely assume to be longer than 24 hours! So my question is whether or not "yom" is the same word for day in Gen 1 as in Isaiah and such when the Day of the Lord is spoken of. Obviously you see what I'm getting at with this, although it certainly doesn't eliminate the option of a literal rendering.

-Gavin

L P Cruz said...

Gavin,

Yes I have heard that arguement that way. The "day" of the Lord, now when it is mentioned like that I can believe it is a dawning of the age, or a perio, day of the Lord is like that, it is poetic. However back in Genesis, from a literary standpoint it sure looks like a narrative genre, so it is intended to be read as a story ie prose. The yom in Genesis, stands for ordinal days, ie 1st, 2nd, etc. so I have changed my mind from allowing theistic evolution to eliminating it. We come into more problems in Genesis if you do not think of it as prose, for if it is not prose, we have an allegory and there all hell breaks lose, may be Adam was not a real man but manking? But what was it trying to convey? What about sin, ie was there a tree whose fruit was eaten?

So we introduce more problems. Evolution requires death of the previous generation and if there was no sin, there would be no death too. Hence, my friend even suggested that the lions in the first place were trained to eat lambs, ie there was no change in their nature before or after the fall, they were created to maim and kill.


Hope this helps bro,


Lito

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Mr Cruz,

I wonder whether this quote from the Statement of Faith of the Australian Evangelical Lutheran Church might be of interest.

P. 8-9:
Creation
Despite numerous theories regarding the origin of the universe, it is clearly and explicitly taught in the holy Scriptures that God Himself created heaven and earth by His almightyWord, out of nothing, in six days of normal duration, of one evening and one morning each. He did this in the manner and order so clearly set out in the historical
account of Genesis chapter 1. We believe with Scripture that originally everything that God created was very good. This means that at least in the case of human beings there was no corruption, sickness or death. These evils came into the world later through sin. We accept the many references in the Scriptures as the only reliable source for discovering the origin of the universe. Since no human being was present when God created the world, we must accept by faith
God’s own account of creation as the truth. We believe that the universal flood at the time of Noah explains many of the geological conditions of the world as it is today. Though there is limited variation within particular kinds, this is not evolution. We believe that plants and animals were created in such a way that they reproduce only according to their
own kinds. We believe that all continuing productivity in creation is due to God’s ongoing blessing. The Bible is very precise in relating how long each patriarch lived before a particular son was born, and there are few real
uncertainties about Old Testament chronology. It is obvious from the scriptural record that creation did not occur millions of years ago.
The doctrine of creation determines not only man’s relationship to his fellow-creatures, but also to God Himself, and so is the basis of all true morality. It is, moreover, presupposed by the redemption and is the foundation of it. Jesus
Christ, the second Adam, has set right all that was ruined by the first Adam. This means that every attack upon the Scriptural doctrine of creation is also an attack on the Gospel and on true morality.

We reject attempts to treat the scriptural account of creation in Genesis as a figurative tale or a myth.119 Those who attempt to do this cannot show where alleged myths end and where factual accounts in Genesis begin.
We reject every attempt to treat science, nature, history, revelation, and faith as separated and unconnected disciplines. The God of creation and the God of revelation is the same God. The Gospel rests on events in this real world. Jesus put right what went wrong in Adam.

Jesus was crucified at the time of Pontius Pilate in the real history of this world, and rose again on the third day. To say that denial of the historicity of the events in Genesis 1-3 does not affect the Gospel reflects a serious misunderstanding of the Gospel itself.

We reject the teaching that Adam and Eve were not historical persons, from whom alone the rest of human beings have descended.
To regard Adam as mythical attacks the Pauline Gospel contrast between Adam and Christ.

We reject the assumption that the forces that now operate within God’s creation were the same uniform forces as brought the universe into existence.

We reject the assumption that the world and all life on it evolved slowly over multi-millions of years.

We reject the claim that the first three days of creation were not days of normal duration. Though there was no sun, they are called days of evening and morning, just as the days after the creation of the sun and the moon.

We reject every attempt to compromise the scriptural doctrine of creation with the theory of evolution by asserting that the biblical account is only myth, legend, or allegory, and should not be taken as literal or historical truth.

We reject the assumption that God created creatures through natural selection, and the assumption that, if God was involved, and created
the world through a process of evolution, He did not create it as a very good world. These assumptions ignore the Fall into sin, and make
God responsible for evil in the world.

We reject the view that Genesis 1:1-2:4 and Genesis 2:4-25 present contradictory accounts of creation."

L P Cruz said...

Dear Mr. Mild Colonial Boy,

I am indebted sir for your post. Thank you for this rich comment and quote from AELC's position on creation.

It articulates well what I could not put in words ...for exampleWe believe with Scripture that originally everything that God created was very good. Evolution presupposes that what God created was not good in the Biblical sense and Hebrew sense so far as I know means - perfect, complete lacking nothing even improvement!!!!,

But what does theistic evolution teach? It teaches that creation went through improvements! The first batch was not god enough and was not in the right state.

Another thing implied in that quote is that in evolution, one treats time as a continuum, yet in Genesis, creation was accounted in discrete terms, 1st day, 2nd day... in evolution there is no such discrete phases violating therefore Scripture's account.

Thanks for pointing this out (BTW I am aware of you blog and I have visited a while back too).


Lito

solarblogger said...

A couple things to note:

1. A lexicon or dictionary will tell you literal meanings of words. Those meanings do not limit what figurative meanings can be derived from the literal ones. I am surprised that the discussion ends up focusing on what the word "yom" can mean in Hebrew. I think there are few languages where any word is so constrained that a dictionary or lexicon could really answer the question.

2. There are people who read Genesis One differently from the kinds of literal readings cited in the post, who do so without regard to the question of evolution. My Old Testament professor, Meredith Kline, was one of them. Here is his argument that Genesis One cannot be read as a literal sequence without violating teachings found in Genesis Two:

http://www.asa3.org/aSA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

L P Cruz said...

Solar,

Before this post I entertained a fair bit theistic evolution being influenced by Gleeson Archer so I am a bit aware of Evangelicals having this non-literal view hence the reason for my bloging on the subject.

It is not literal but exegetical.

BTW I came to these present conclusions long before I became Lutheran

Lito

12:44 PM