Critical Review by:

Ray Williams, Reader

"Gentlemen,

    I have been an old-earth creationist for many years and from time to time have studied or listened to speakers concerning eschatology. After all this, I have not resolved to my satisfaction the problems associated with each of the pre, post, or a-mil doctrinal positions.
 
    Your book has been an eye opener and I appreciate the research and analytical work you have put into it. You have provided many sound biblical arguments in a logical and convincing way.
 
    But, my bubble of enthusiasm burst when I got to Chapter 13 and read the section on "A Biblical Reading of the Days of Genesis" and the following associated sections. I think the information you presented indicates a negative influence by so-called young-earth literalistic interpretations while also failing to recognize that the church has historically been mislead by defective English translations because of the pre-suppositional views of Hebrew to English translators. The result is that these sections diminish the credibility of your book and introduce an element of doubt about the validity of your preterist arguments.
 
    I believe we can agree that the Bible is not a science textbook but, on the other hand, neither does it convey erroneous scientific information. Over the years, scientific investigations have revealed much about our universe and have enabled the determination of how stars are born and the mechanisms by which solar systems are formed. Since these discoveries are now well established, a proper interpretation of Genesis 1 ought not to be in conflict with them. The creation interpretation you presented in your book does just that!
 
    Fundamentally, Genesis 1 is written in a narrative form and, with the exception of Genesis 1:27, is not poetic in nature. An expert in Hebrew text-linguistics, C. John Collins, states it very well when he writes, "it is exalted prose narrative" and "we must not impose a 'literalistic' hermeneutic on the text."(1)
 
    To illustrate the harmony of Genesis 1 with modern scientific evidence, let me present a brief analysis of a few key verses, which, if their proper sense had been incorporated into your book, would have sharpened your criticism of the young-earth literalistic hermeneutic. It's unfortunate that the reviewers of your manuscript did not recognize this problem and point out the deficiency prior to press time.
 
    A major problem of interpretation, exhibited by many, is a failure to fully appreciate the extent of what God did during the initial period of creation. This time period identified only as "In the beginning" (Genesis 1:1), was a period when the tremendous power of God was unleashed to bring the universe into existence from nothing that existed previously. During that time, God created all the seen and unseen things of the universe (heavens and the earth) including the elements of space-time, energy-matter, and the fundamental forces of nature, which subsequently operated to progressively form stars, galaxies and our solar system including the Sun, Moon and Earth. All of these heavenly bodies were wondrously created prior to the six creation days, during which time the earth was gradually transformed from having an environment that was hostile to life (Genesis 1:2) into a place where mankind could live in a literal "Garden of Eden."
 
    In Genesis 1:3 we read, "Let there be light, and there was light." (ESV)  This English expression has often been misinterpreted to mean that light was created on Day One. But, "let there be" (Hebrew hayah) is not the equivalent of "create" (Hebrew bara) but instead, it means the coming-to-pass of light penetrating to the earth's surface through a cloud cover of decreasing density such that day could be distinguished from night as the earth rotated on its axis and being similar to what can be observed today on a cloudy day.

    From a scientific standpoint, the visible phenomenon we call light is only a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is a manifestation of the tremendous energy created at the beginning of the universe. Therefore, the energy radiating from the billions of stars created "in the beginning" included the full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation consisting of gamma rays, x-rays, ultra-violet rays, visible light, infrared rays, microwaves and radio waves. Similarly, the earthly light referred to in Genesis 1:3 was just a small part of the radiation coming from our Sun.
 
    This leads to another common misinterpretation, which claims that the Sun and Moon were not created until Day Four. Again, this results from a misleading translation of the Hebrew verb tense in Genesis 1:16 and also it violates known scientific theory because its necessity to have a star or sun of large mass to gravitationally initiate the formation of an orbiting planetary system.
 
    In Genesis 1:14 we read, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens [for the purpose of] to separate the day from the night." (ESV) Note that the verse is stating a purpose for the lights and the expression "let there be" does not mean their creation as indicated previously in the case of light. Verse 16 does reference the lights being made but the Hebrew verb tense was not translated properly and should be understood to mean, "had made" sometime in the past. Some translations insert the word "made" in reference to the stars but they make a note that this word is not in the Hebrew text. The ESV translates it correctly as "--- and the stars." Therefore, the same verb tense for the lights applies to the stars also.
 
    As confirmation that the Sun was in existence prior to Day One, consider what happened on the second and third days. On Day Two, God separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. Stated in other words, God established an earthly water cycle. On Day Three, dry land appeared and vegetation was brought forth. If radiated energy from the Sun had not been available to provide for warmth and growth, these activities would have been impossible because the earth would have been like a frozen ice ball. Therefore, it should be clear that the false claims about when the Sun, Moon and stars were created should be put to rest.
 
    A complete analysis of the entire creation account could be made to refute the young-earth creationist interpretation concerning the use of the Hebrew word yom, the duration of the creation day, and an analysis of the evening and morning refrain but for the purpose of this review let it suffice to say only that light was not created on Day One and the Sun, Moon and stars were not created on Day Four!"
 
Ray Williams
Blairsville, Georgia

 
  
Note:
 
(1) Genesis 1-4, A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary, C. John Collins, (P&R Pub., 2001), p. 44
 
 

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