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?