THE DAYS OF CREATION
by Wayne S. Walker
By nature, I am a fairly simple person (I did not say simple-minded!). Through the years I have tried to benefit from complex, heavily-footnoted articles written by others (and have even written a few of those myself). However, the older I become, the more I see the need to distill all those complex arguments so that all can understand. Also, my aim is to have a simple faith in God and His word, determined that whenever there is a seeming conflict between the fallible theories of men and what God’s word says, I will accept what God’s word says. Therefore, I have read with great interest discussions over the last few years among brethren regarding the days of creation. The Biblical account of creation is straightforward in Genesis 1:1 through 2:4, saying that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. However, the atheistic evolutionist is convinced that the Genesis account is just a myth because it does not allow the time which he claims is necessary for the universe to have evolved by purely natural means. Even among those who claim to accept the Bible, there are those who do not believe that it necessarily means what it says.
A few of years ago, a controversy arose over some brethren who, according to what I have read, were, and perhaps still are, affirming that God created the earth in a literal six days but that between each of those six days long periods of time may have occurred, so that perhaps the atheistic evolutionist is right when he claims that the earth is millions and even billions of years old. The purpose of this article is not to provide all the facts of the discussion, but simply to make a few observations that have been in my thoughts as a result of what I have read and heard.
On the One Hand
Although my goal is always to stand for truth and against error, I do not feel it incumbent upon me to characterize everyone with whom I may disagree as one who has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. None of us was present at creation, so aside from the rather sketchy record which God had Moses write, we do not have much information concerning the means and methods that God may have used. If a brother draws some different conclusions than I do and offers them merely as suggestions or possibilities, I may not necessarily decide that he is in ****able error even though I disagree with his opinions.
For instance, I had a teacher who, based on his knowledge of the Hebrew language and his study of the scriptures, was convinced that the word "day" in Genesis 1 did not necessarily mean a 24-hour day. He was quick to add that it could not be a long period of time, such as thousands, millions, or even billions of years, but could refer to a rather limited space of time such as, if I remember correctly, anywhere from two to six weeks or so. I was never convinced, but in spite of this, he is a well-respected brother and I know of no efforts that have been made to ferret him out as dangerous false teacher and blasphemous heretic.
Even among those who claim to be anti-evolutionists, some are "young earth creationist" and others are "old earth creationists." These periodically hurl anathemas at each other. It so happens that I find the "scientific creationist" theory of a young earth to be the most plausible, but the truth is that no one knows exactly how old the earth is. Rather than fighting among ourselves, we would accomplish more by putting our arguments over opinions aside and directing our attention toward the true enemy. Certainly, there can be no compromise of truth, and perhaps I am a bit naive, but that is how I feel.
On the Other Hand
At the same time, I cannot fathom why those who claim to believe in Biblical creation would feel the need to "harmonize" what the Bible says with the ever-changing and irresolute theories of men. The problem is that when we have "harmonized" the Bible to whatever the theory-du-jour happens to be, then when the theory changes, we have to "re-harmonize" the Bible to fit it. Why go to all that trouble? Why not simply acceptwhat the Bible has to say by faith and leave it at that (Hebrews 11:3)?
God put the Bible in a form to be understood by men. Therefore, the language is suited to the minds that He gave us. While figurative language is sometimes used, there is absolutely nothing in the context of Genesis 1 to suggest that Moses was presenting anything other than a historical account of what happened. The fact that Moses wrote that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, and then tied this to the command that the Israelites were to rest on the seventh day (a 24-hour period) of each week is strong evidence that Genesis 1 is to be understood exactly for what it seems to say. If we cannot trust the historical accuracy of the creation account, how can we trust the accuracy of any other Biblical account?
Someone may ask about fellowship. Can we continue to have joint-participation with those with whom we may differ on the days of creation? This is a question that individuals and congregations will have to decide on their own. There are some issues about which we disagree but continue to have fellowship. Other issues eventually bring about a break in fellowship. A lot depends upon the attitudes of those involved. However, "as for me and my house," we shall continue to accept the Bible for what it says, refuse all compromise with those who are enemies of God’s word, and let the chips fall where they may.
This article was not easy to write. In various media, I have sought to contend for what I firmly believe the Bible to teach, which is a literal, six-day creation as presented in Genesis chapter one. However, while I am convinced that theories which claim to accept Biblical creation and yet make room for millions of years are sadly misguided and mistaken, I still think that we need to be very careful whom we identify as false teachers or opponents of the faith even though we may be convinced that they are misguided and mistaken. (—taken and adapted from With All Boldness; December, 2000; Vol. 10, No. 12; p. 8)