As someone who adheres to the Reformed version of Christianity, one of the bloggers that I enjoy following on social media is a man from Canada named Tim Challies. I respect him and would recommend him to anyone of the Reformed persuasion. However, I noticed recently that he had a guest article posted from another Reformed Christian named Thomas Purifoy, Jr., director of a movie aimed at Christian audiences titled, Is Genesis History? Purifoy is very solidly in the YEC (young-earth creationist) camp, and he wishes to convey the message of YEC to Christians everywhere. I do not personally know him. As an old-earth creationist, a Christian, and someone who truly believes in a historical Adam and Eve, I wish to write a kind and (hopefully) non-offensive rebuttal to some of the statements Purifoy recently made in the article he wrote (which was posted by Tim Challies) titled Six Reasons Reformed Christians Should Embrace Six-Day Creation. I will post excerpts from Purifoy’s entry in italics, and my responses will be in regular font.
“By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world. I recognize that among some Reformed Christians this is not a popular view of history. Instead, some have adopted the framework hypothesis, analogical days, or the cosmic-temple model to interpret Genesis 1.”
Curiously, Purifoy leaves out what I consider to be one of the most, if not the most, popular old-earth creationist interpretations of Genesis, which is the concordist (or day-age) interpretation, which also happens to be what I follow. The most well-known organization to uphold the banner of concordism is Reasons To Believe, headed by Dr. Hugh Ross (who is someone that Purifoy had a radio debate with a few months ago).
I suppose that the first item we need to look at together is, how does one define the word ‘day’ in Genesis 1? Young-earth creationist Christians, as well as certain Christians of the Reformed camp, interpret them as literal, 24-hour days. Sometimes, in Scripture, the term ‘day’ really is applicable as a 24-hour period.
But not always.
Dr. Hugh Ross writes: “The Hebrew word yôm, translated “day,” is used in biblical Hebrew (as in modern English) to indicate any of four time periods: (a) some portion of the daylight (hours); (b) sunrise to sunset; (c) sunset to sunset; or (d) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (from weeks to a year to several years to an age or epoch). Yôm cannot, however, be interpreted as indefinite (such as anytime or someday) or as infinite time. William Wilson, in his Old Testament Word Studies, explains that yôm is ‘frequently put for time in general, or for a long time; a whole period under consideration…Day [yôm] is also put for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens.’” (from Chapter 7 of A Matter of Days by Hugh Ross, NavPress Publishing Group, 2004)
Davis Young and Ralph Stearley write: “…with regard to the first feature of the convention, the first day in Genesis 1 is ‘day one’ or ‘one day’, not the ‘first day’, and the definite article is lacking. Regarding the second feature, the definite article is also not used for days two through five. Thus, the New American Standard Bible correctly translated as ‘a second day’ or ‘a fifth day’ rather than ‘the second day’ or ‘the fifth day’ as the New International Version did. As to the third feature, the definite article is used for day seven in Genesis 2:1-3 and probably also for the sixth day.” (from The Bible, Rocks and Time by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley, InterVarsity Press, 2008, p.200)
I would also like to invite the reader to spend $5.00—just $5.00—on a short booklet by Dr. Rodney Whitefield titled Genesis One and the Age of the Earth, available from http://www.creationingenesis.com . I have this booklet; it is described as “a brief explanation of the Hebrew text of the first chapter of Genesis as it relates to the age of the Earth question.” Here is a photo of its table of contents, just so you know:
“Then they [the old-earth creationists] accept the conventional chronology of universal history. This includes the slow formation of everything over billions of years starting with a Big Bang, the corruption, and death of trillions of creatures before the arrival of Adam and Eve, a Fall that introduced death only to mankind, and a local flood during the days of Noah.”
All of these issues and conditions will be dealt with over the course of this essay. However, there is one thing he says here that need to be addressed right away. One might notice a subtle antipathy by Purifoy to the ‘Big Bang’ theory in what he has written (well, maybe not so subtle). It seems that many young-earth creationists possess a great disdain toward anything that smacks of the Big Bang. Yet, between young-earth and old-earth creationists, both camps agree that the universe had a beginning. So what is the issue here? “It pains me,” writes Professor David Snoke, “that numerous Christian science textbooks mock the Big Bang as an atheist conspiracy. As Hugh Ross has emphasized in The Fingerprint of God, the Big Bang theory was not a product of atheist propaganda. It was, in fact, rejected by nearly all atheists, accepted only when the burden of evidence in favor of it became overwhelming…Modern atheistic cosmology has attempted numerous theories to explain away this beginning, using adaptations of quantum theory or inflation theory to argue that ours could be one of many universes to pop into existence, but these theories of multiple universes, unlike the Big Bang theory, have no observational support and are merely wishful thinking.” (A Biblical Case For An Old Earth, by David Snoke, Baker Books, 2006, p. 128)
Anyway, let us move on….
Purifoy: “Ligon Duncan observed in an interview for ‘The Gospel Coalition’ that affirming the goodness of the original creation is non-negotiable. As the Westminister Confession [of 1646] states, the goodness of the original creation is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)”
OK, so that segment of the Westminster Confession of Faith also states that “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.” Ergo, the Confession’s framers were six-day creationists. One will also find an affirmation of six-day creationism in the London Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 4, with the very same verbiage. However, not all Christian creeds of that time were specifically six-day creationist in regards to their beliefs on creation. For example, from the Belgic Confession of 1566, Article 12: “We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by his Son, hath created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator.” Not a word is spoken about six literal 24-hour days. Also, it may be of interest that there is an old commentary, dated 1692, from a minister to King William III named Thomas Burnet titled Archaeologie Philosophicae, or The Ancient Doctrine Concerning the Originals of Things, wherein Burnet writes entries like these: “…let us now therefore return to the Nature of Things, and to the visible World; for in the Corporeal [the body] we have as many Arguments to confirm the same Antiquity of Matter; and sufficiently to demonstrate that the Mosaical Epocha of about six thousand years, does not comprehend the Original of the whole Universe, but the Age of our Earth, and the Time since it was formed out of its Chaos. If we again consider the Phenomena of the Heavens, and the Companies of both wandering and fixed Stars, we shall easily believe that so numerous a Progeny…could not be the Off-Spring of one earthly Chaos; nor admit of their Ages and Histories being included within the Limits of so small a time [six thousand years]…” (Archaeologie Philosophicae, p. 35)
But back to Purifoy: “What does that goodness [of original creation] look like? It is full of life-giving power and bounty. This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Genesis 1:30) and without corruption and death (Romans 8:21).”
Let us examine Genesis 1: 29-30 [NASB]: “Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you [speaking of Adam and Eve] every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.” “Every green plant” was given to the animals and birds and other creatures for consumption; however, there is no explicit prohibition of carnivory by animals, or carnivory between animals in this passage of Scripture. One plausible view, according to David Snoke, is that “these verses refer specially to life in the Garden, which I have argued was a special place separate from the rest of creation.” Snoke also writes: “Genesis 1:26-31 is, of course, parallel to Genesis 2:4-25. The latter story puts emphasis on the fruit trees in the Garden. Human beings, and the animals in the Garden with them, may have been specially commanded to eat only from the green plants and trees, while animals in the outer regions lived a different life.” (A Biblical Case For An Old Earth by David Snoke, p. 67)
Let’s look at Romans 8:21 in context with the surrounding verses: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:18-22, KJV). It is here that the KJV, along with a few other translations, such as Webster’s Bible Translation, has a superior translation of Romans 8:20 and 21. They render the word as “creature” instead of “creation”. There is a big difference here. Rocks, trees and animals were not made in the image of God like humans were; such things are not consciously wishing for renewal. In fact, the present heavens and earth will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10) and will be replaced by “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13, NASB). “The question we are examining,” wrote Rich Deem, “is the proper translation of the Greek word ktisis, which occurs 20 times in the New Testament and can be translated as either ‘creation’ or ‘creature’, depending upon the context. In Romans 1:20, ktisis obviously refers to the creation, since the verse describes the ‘world’ (kosmos). In other verses, such as Mark 16:15, ktisis obviously refers to unredeemed creatures (humans), since Jesus would not have commanded us to proclaim the gospel to the rocks and trees. Ktisis, in other verses often refers to the Gentile or non-believing world” (http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/romans8.html) Deem, in the same article, later writes, referencing Romans 8:19-23: “Ultimately, one must decide if Paul is anthropomorphizing the creation (i.e., the passage is figurative) or if he is really referring to creatures – the unredeemed Gentiles. The literal translation would be rendered ‘creature,’ since it fits the entire context of the words used to describe it. In order to claim that the passage refers to the creation, one must assume a figurative interpretation. It is ironic that young earth proponents opt for a figurative interpretation, whereas day-age proponents follow the literal interpretation.”
What about creation itself, though? It was subject to futility from the very beginning, through the laws of thermodynamics, entropy, and decay, among other things. David Snoke writes: “…the exact language of Romans 8:22 favors the view that it [creation] has been subjected to futility since the beginning. This verse says: ‘We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.’ The phrase ‘right up to the present time’ is best translated as ‘all the way up to the present time’; in other words, ‘from the beginning up to now,’ not ‘from some intermediate time up till now.’” (Why Were Dangerous Animals Created? by David Snoke, http://www.christianscientific.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/animals.pdf )
Purifoy: “If one adopts the conventional chronology, one must accept that the Earth was absent from the universe for its first 9 billion years. After a galactic cooling event, the Earth slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments. God eventually created the first complex marine life, then progressively created or evolved different types of organisms. These experienced death and massive extinction events that led to the destruction of trillions of living creatures. All this happened long before the appearance of Adam and Eve.”
It is here that I would like to kindly invite the reader—whether young-earth creationist or old-earth creationist—to look at Dr. Hugh Ross’s excellent book, Improbable Planet, and a new website by Dr. David Bossard titled The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible (www.creationnarrative.org). Both of these provide great scientific insights into how galactic events, and early Earth creation cycles, carefully paved the way for modern humanity to exist and thrive. One will learn about how supernova eruptions near our early solar system during its formation helped provide a large quantity of heavy elements (and light elements) for Earth; one can discover how events during the Cambrian period prepared enormous deposits of oil, coal and ores which would eventually become necessary to sustain an advanced, global civilization, and many other things. (I also need to say that I am an old-earth creationist, not a theistic evolutionist, as Purifoy made a passing reference to when he wrote the words ‘progressively created or evolved’. However, I will not get into theistic evolution in this essay. To those who are interested, I would like to suggest searching Stand To Reason at https://www.str.org for articles about theistic evolution)
Purifoy: “According to the conventional chronology, corruption has always been a part of the universe…In this view, Adam’s sin could not have been the ultimate cause of universal corruption. As a historical event, his disobedience occurred long -after- corruption was present. But according to 6-day creation, Adam’s sin -precedes- God’s curse on the creation. The suffering and death of animals came as a result of Adam’s disobedience, not prior to it. Thorns and thistles were a part of the curse, not before it.”
The first thing I would like to point out is that thorns and thistles would not have just appeared in creation subsequent to Adam’s sin, and here is why: during the six ‘days’ of Genesis 1, God was always busy, creating and molding creation. But on the seventh day, God rested from his creative works. Thorns and thistles would have to have been created prior to the creation of Adam and Eve. They would not have existed within the confines of the Garden of Eden, but they would have already been around in the surrounding world, although probably in lesser quantities. Here is what God says in Genesis 3:17-18: “…Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field.” My belief is that God increased the number of thorns and thistles that existed outside the Garden as part of the curse on the ground.
Kevin Nelstead, a Natural Resources Specialist who operates the GeoChristian website, has this to say about the topic of animal death before the Fall: “The Bible is silent on the topic of animal death before the fall, and does not even say that animals were created to be immortal. Instead we see in the Scriptures that carnivorous activity is a normal part of God’s good creation. In Job 38:39-41 and Psalm 104:21-22 (which is a re-telling of Genesis 1 in poetic form), God is the one who provides food for the predators, with no hint that this is evil or something less than good. We may cringe a bit when we see a cheetah take down a gazelle in a documentary, but there is no sign in the Bible that either God or the ancient Hebrews viewed predator-prey relationships as evil or as the consequence of Adam’s sin.” (https://geochristian.com/2018/02/19/six-theological-reasons-why-christians-do-not-have-to-embrace-six-day-young-earth-creationism ) All of God’s creatures—whether they are bouncy chinchillas and popcorning guinea pigs, or fierce tigers and deadly grizzly bears—glorify God in some way. 1 Timothy 4:4 says that “everything created by God is good” (NASB) Creatures like lions, tigers and polar bears did not just transmogrify into fierce beasts in a few moments after the Fall like characters in a certain popular children’s anime, where the creatures would evolve into higher forms within instants in the heat of a battle. No, it doesn’t work that way. Fossil records of the distant past confirm that there have always been, since the Cambrian Explosion several hundred million years ago, dangerous animals on the face of the Earth.
All of creation—star formation, supernovae, our Sun, surrounding planets, the geological and hydrological cycles of the Earth, animal life, animal death, volcanoes, etc.—all of those things serve, in God’s plan, as a backdrop for the drama of human redemption. Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts write: “This world was not intended to be an eternal state of bliss in which Eden was the sum total of God’s plan, but rather it was designed with built-in obsolescence and a plan to reach perfect fulfillment in the future through Christ. This creation is the stage on which the drama of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation is unfolding.” (Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Creation, Holman Reference, 2008, p. 60) For more on what might have occurred, had Adam and Eve not sinned, visit one of my blogs: https://oldearthcreationism.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/what-if-adam-and-eve-had-not-sinned
Purifoy: “If the universe contained death and corruption that wasn’t the result of Adam’s sin, what does that mean for Jesus’s redemption of both man and creation?” Where does the Bible say that Jesus died for creation? (hint: it doesn’t) Our Lord Jesus did not take on the substance of rocks and trees, neither did He take on the substance of angels, but he took on the seed of Abraham when he came to Earth (Hebrews 2:16, KJV)
Purifoy, again: “Consider His miracles: He was re-forming the world according to the goodness of the original creation. Whether Jesus was healing the sick, raising the dead, or feeding the hungry, He was showing that redemption results in tangible bounty to actual people.” Jesus did come to feed the hungry, raise the dead, and heal the sick. He also quotes Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:17-19 about Himself: “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’” Yes, Jesus did so many of those things. But was he ‘re-forming the world according to the goodness of the original creation’? I would say no to that question. His primary purpose for being here was to die for sinners, be resurrected for the justification of believers (Romans 4:25), and to be a high priest in Heaven for believers in His name (Hebrews 9). Those were His main purposes when He walked the Earth. Colossians 1: 20 does say that Jesus was reconciling “all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross, through Him…whether things on earth or things in heaven”, but that does not mean that He provided redemption for creation. All things, including creation, will be destroyed and made new one day (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:5)
Now that does not absolve us from caring for God’s creation in this age, for that was one of the instructions given to Adam (Genesis 1:28). Dr. Hugh Ross says: “God assigned them [Adam and Eve] as caretakers of all Earth’s resources.” [the same would also apply to all of us] Ross continues: “To carry out their responsibilities, they would need helpers, and they would need to spread out. They and their progeny would need to search out the geographic distribution of the various kinds of life; determine the size, habitat, characteristics, and needs of these species; and learn the ways each species enhances the well-being of others, including humans. They also would need to ascertain the kinds and quantities of physical resources required for life and discern how these resources could best be managed for the benefit of all life.” (Navigating Genesis, by Hugh Ross, RTB Press, 2014, p. 101). This is how things should have been. But, as we know all too well, it does not always work out this way in a fallen world.
Purifoy: “Whether it is Moses connection creation week with a normal week in the fourth commandment; or Isaiah affirming God created man at the same time He created the heavens and the earth; or Jesus explaining the global destruction of the Flood in light of His second coming; or Luke tracing the history of the world through a single genealogy; or Paul relating the work of Adam to the work of Christ; or Peter showing the relationship between the creation, global flood, and judgment to come, there is only one historical sequence that consistently fits: 6-day creation.”
Let’s start with Moses and the fourth commandment. The Scripture that Purifoy is referencing is from Exodus 20:8-11, particularly verse 11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” However, we must remember that the word ‘day’ in Scripture, as we looked at earlier, can mean different things. For the Israelites of Moses’s time, those days would be literal 24-hour days. But for God, time is different. The simile used in Scripture is that a day is like a thousand years to God, and a thousand years like one day (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). God, in this instruction to Moses, was setting a pattern for the Israelites, not specifying that the creation days were literal 24-hour periods. Hugh Ross, from chapter eight of his book A Matter of Days, quotes the late Hebrew scholar Gleason Archer: “By no means does this [Exodus 20:9-11] demonstrate that 24-hour intervals were involved in the first six ‘days’, any more than the eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles proves that the wilderness wanderings under Moses occupied only eight days.” As for Isaiah, since Purifoy did not reference a specific verse from that book, I cannot comment.
What about the extent of the Flood? Was it entirely global? More localized to the Mesopotamian/Arabian regions? Maybe partially global? It’s a good question. Remember that Peter wrote that God “brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5) and that the Deluge was unleashed upon “the world at that time” (2 Peter 3:6). Those verses do not definitively say that the Flood was entirely global in extent. Hugh Ross, in his book Navigating Genesis, David Snoke, in his work A Biblical Case For An Old Earth and other old-earth creationist writers have written much about the extent of the Flood. I have also written a three-part series about the geographical extent of the Deluge on my website, https://oldearthcreationism.wordpress.com that I would encourage the reader to examine if they want.
As far as genealogies, it has been proven that there are, sometimes, significant gaps in the Old Testament genealogies. They are in chronological order, of course, it’s just that the writers of these genealogies only included certain people. Also, the Hebrew word for father in certain verses in the Old Testament can also mean ‘ancestor.’ For more information, I will provide links to these sites, which thoroughly explain gaps in Scriptural genealogies: http://www.michaelgstrauss.com/2017/06/genealogies-and-creation-of-heaven-and.html , https://tnrtb.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/qa-what-is-the-purpose-of-the-numbers-in-the-genesis-genealogies , and this 5-part series about genealogies from Reasons to Believe at: http://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2012/07/23/from-noah-to-abraham-to-moses-evidence-of-genealogical-gaps-in-mosaic-literature-part-1
Purifoy: “…if the thick fossil-bearing rock layers are the result of a global flood, they are a physical reminder of God’s global judgment on the earth in the past—as well as in the future. If, however, one adopts the conventional chronology, those huge layers are merely a testimony to millions of years. God’s judgment is erased from the earth—and perhaps overlooked in the future.”
At this point, I’m going to defer to the writings of old-earth Christian geologists in an amazing book that I highly recommend titled The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth. (The Grand Canyon is a focal point for both young-earth and old-earth creationists) In Chapter 7 of this beautifully illustrated book, Stephen Moshier and Gregg Davidson write about something called uniformitarian geology: “Today, uniformitarian geology recognizes that there are many places and times where catastrophic events have contributed to shaping the Earth’s varied layers, and that the physical conditions on Earth, such as the chemical makeup of the atmosphere and oceans, have not always been the same as they are today.”
These two go on to say: “Flood geologists [young-earth creationists] commonly demonize uniformitarianism by misrepresenting it as being synonymous with materialism or evolutionism. Yet when they seek to find scientific evidence in support of a young Earth, they actually apply uniformitarian principles!” Later, Moshier and Davidson write: “Flood geologists further depart from uniformitarian principles (and from Christian doctrines of God’s consistency and providence) when they assume that natural laws describing physical and chemical processes must have been different during the creation week, before the fall in the Garden of Eden, or at various points during Noah’s flood. Some Young Earth advocates write that the natural laws in the whole universe are a consequence of God’s ‘curse’ or punishment for the fall. These arguments fail to be supported by either science of Scripture. In science, all observations point to a consistency in the laws of nature, back to the first microseconds of the universe. The Bible likewise says nothing about the fundamental laws of nature being altered after man’s sin.” (The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth, Kregel Publications, 2016, p. 74)
Young-earth creationists are fond of criticizing and demeaning modern forms of scientific dating, whether with geology, the universe, or other facets of creation. However, the General Theory of Relativity, the laws of physics, gravity, entropy, radiometric dating, and a host of other scientific theories and principles have been proven over and over again. Yes, certain theories and trends in sciences will change or pass. Others, not so much. Here is a small chart from page 91 of The Grand Canyon: Monument to an Ancient Earth that details dating techniques and the age ranges for said techniques:
Science is not our enemy, and later in Purifoy’s article, he attempts to sow the seeds of doubt of the veracity of modern scientific methods in the minds of his readers. He talks about a book by Thomas Kuhn called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which Kuhn, according to Purifoy, “explores the history of science in light of [presuppositional] thinking”, and, eventually, Kuhn “effectively questions the absolute epistemological authority of modern science”. Kuhn concludes section 6 of his essay by quoting Isaiah 2:22 (ESV), which says, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” Purifoy seems to be attempting to strike the fear of God in the hearts of his Reformed readers and listeners by appealing to Scripture in efforts to discourage and dissuade them from modern science. It almost seems—almost—like he is trying to bully his audience away from any old-earth creationist inclinations that they might have or believe in. (I’m not saying for sure that he is bullying his audience; I just say that as a possibility)
Purifoy ends his message with a quote by a great writer and preacher named Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, who said, “I have no gospel unless Genesis is history.” Many old-earth creationists like myself will agree with him….its just that we think God took a little longer than six calendar days to create this vast universe and an Earth capable of sustaining complex life.
Thank you so much for reading this, if you’ve made it this far.