Comment on Common Arguments Against a 7-Day Creation Week by Sean Pitman.
Dear Brothers and Sisters. You wrap yourselves in a cloak of “the Bible says” and you are sure you know “what Jesus thought” about the age of the earth. I have looked long and find no dates in my Bible on creation, only assumptions and suppositions–interpretations.
The question here isn’t about a specific “date” for creation. The question is if the Bible is correct when it says, quite clearly, that all living things on this planet were created in just 7 literal days. You argue that the Bible is not correct in this claim – that long ages could be represented and that the literal nature of the creation week is actually in question. However, it is clearly evident that the authors of the Bible themselves didn’t think so. They actually intended to convey, to their readers, the literal historical nature of the 7-day creation week. There simply is no rational way around this conclusion as far as I’ve been able to tell. To argue that they simply didn’t know what they were talking about does in fact undermine the overall credibility of the Bible’s claim to be the “Word of God.”
I find no statements by Jesus on the age of the Universe, only a promise that he had many things to tell us, but that his disciples couldn’t bear it at that time.
Again, we aren’t talking about the “age of the universe” here. As already mentioned, that’s simply not part of this discussion since the Bible itself claims that the universe pre-existed the creation week of our little planet. What we are talking about then is the literal nature of the 7-day creation week for our particular planet described in the Bible and even mentioned by Jesus Himself in literal terms. Jesus referenced Genesis several times as a literal historical account. He also strongly supports the truth of the writings of Moses. In John 5:45–47, Jesus says, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you — Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” Besides writing or compiling the Genesis account, Moses also copied the Ten Commandments that were originally written by God’s own finger – to include the passage found in Exodus 20:11 which states: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This only reflects the literal nature of the Genesis account of origins which Jesus clearly endorsed.
We should also note the way Jesus treated as historical fact the accounts in the Old Testament, which religious and atheistic skeptics think are unbelievable mythology. These historical accounts include Adam and Eve as the first married couple (Matthew 19:3–6; Mark 10:3–9), Abel as the first prophet who was killed (Luke 11:50–51), Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:38–39), Moses and the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14), Moses and the manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness (John 6:32–33, 49), the experiences of Lot and his wife (Luke 17:28–32), the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10:15), the miracles of Elijah (Luke 4:25–27), and Jonah and the big fish (Matthew 12:40–41).
As New Testament scholar John Wenham has compellingly argued, Jesus did not allegorize these accounts but took them as straightforward history, describing events that actually happened just as the Old Testament describes. Jesus used these accounts to teach His disciples that the events of His death, Resurrection, and Second Coming would likewise certainly happen in time-space reality.
We are also told elsewhere in Scripture how Jesus created: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6-9). We see the meaning of this when we consider the miracles of Jesus during His earthly ministry. All the miracles occurred instantly—at His Word. He instantly turned water into wine in His very first miracle, which “revealed His glory” as the Creator (John 2:1–11; John 1:1–3, 14, 18). It was the instant calming of the wind and the waves that convinced His disciples that He was no mere man. So it was with all His miracles (Mark 4:35–41). He did not speak and wait for days, weeks, months, or years for things to happen. He spoke and it was done. So, when He said, “Let there be . . .” in Genesis 1, it did not take long ages for things to come into existence.
We also know that Jesus is in fact called the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1–3).
In this light, consider Exodus 20:1: “And God spoke all these words, saying . . . .” Because Jesus is the Word, this must be a reference to the preincarnate Christ speaking to Moses. As we know, there are a number of appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. There is no doubt, with rare exception, that the preincarnate Christ did the speaking to Adam, Noah, the patriarchs, Moses, etc. Now, when the Creator God spoke as recorded in Exodus 20:1, what did He (Jesus) say? As we read on, we find this statement: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11).
There you have it. Jesus did explicitly say He created in six days. Not only this, but the one who spoke the words “six days” also wrote them down for Moses: “Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly” (Deuteronomy 9:10).
Jesus said clearly that He created in six days. And He even did something He didn’t do with most of Scripture — He wrote it down Himself. How much clearer and more authoritative can you get than that?
It took his church about 70 years to accept that the Jewish Christian wasn’t superior to the Gentile, about 1700 years to accept that there should be no slave or free, and we are still struggling with the idea that in Christ there is no male or female. Your basic principle is that the Bible is always right, and must interpret science, but the weak underbelly of that position is what you are really saying is, “My interpretation, and the interpretation of my fathers in faith must be correct.” The alternative is to accept that all Bible believers must understand that in all things we only see through a glass darkly, we know in part, only. That the Bible is the introduction to truth, not a limit on truth, and as the Bible can help us understand what we learn by science, also science should help us understand how to interpret the Bible.
Look, none of the examples in your list of things the church had to unlearn flew in the face of any clear Biblical statement(s). Rather, all of these things that had to be unlearned were based on cultural or social norms and ideas – not on the actual “Word of God” found anywhere in Scripture.
Now, while it is true that science and the Bible, both gifts of God, shed light on each other, it is not true that very clear claims found in the Bible, such as the literal nature of the 7-day creation week in this particular case, can therefore be viewed as falsified by popular claims of modern scientists – while yet maintaining the notion that the Bible is still the “Word of God”. Such claims are referred to, by Mrs. White, as “science falsely so called.” (Link).
As Mrs. White explains:
“God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science; but the book of nature and the written Word do not disagree; each sheds light on the other. Rightly understood, they make us acquainted with God and His character by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which He works.” (The Signs of the Times, March 20, 1884).
“There should be a settled belief in the divine authority of God’s Holy Word. The Bible is not to be tested by men’s ideas of science. Human knowledge is an unreliable guide. Skeptics who read the Bible for the sake of caviling, may, through an imperfect comprehension of either science or revelation, claim to find contradictions between them; but rightly understood, they are in perfect harmony. Moses wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and a correct theory of geology will never claim discoveries that cannot be reconciled with his statements. All truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 114).
“Since the book of nature and the book of revelation bear the impress of the same master mind, they cannot but speak in harmony. By different methods and in different languages they witness to the same great truths. Science is ever discovering new wonders, but from its research it brings nothing that, rightly understood, conflicts with divine revelation. The book of nature and the written Word shed light on each other. They make us acquainted with God by teaching us something of the laws through which He works.
But inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have led to supposed conflict between science and revelation. In the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the Word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the Creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the earth to evolve from chaos. In order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years.
Such a conclusion is uncalled for. The Bible record is in harmony with itself and with the teaching of nature.” (True Education p. 77)
The fact is that you yourself reject the claims of mainstream science when it conflicts with at least some of your religious views. For example, you don’t accept the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection as being responsible for the diversity of life on this planet. You’re not really a Darwinist then. Why not? You’re evidently a theistic evolutionist. But, why do you reject the conclusion of the vast majority of scientists along these lines in particular? – while accepting their conclusions regarding the overall age of life on Earth? You reject the naturalistic mechanism for the diversity of living things forwarded by mainstream science, but accept the naturalistic time frame proposed by the very same scientists? Again, it seems to me like you’re just not being consistent in the reasons for the positions you accept vs. the ones that you reject…
I have had to cling to Ellen White’s statement that things we have always believed will not suffer from careful investigation, and her prophecy that we will have many things to unlearn as well as many things to learn, if we are to know the mind of Christ for us in this present age.
Of course there are many many more things to learn and unlearn – even for you I dare say. However, that doesn’t mean that some of the clearest statements of God found in the Bible and in the writings of Mrs. White are therefore open for potential falsification – if one wishes to maintain that these writings are really “Divinely Inspired”.
Again, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t keep invoking Mrs. White as some kind of voice of authority in support of your position when she specifically claims that she was shown, directly by God, the literal nature of the creation week and that this truth would be foundational as a basis of the 7th-day Sabbath until the end of time. She also goes on to claim that those who present alternative views of long-ages for life on this planet, in an effort to harmonize the clear claims of Bible with the claims of “infidel geologists”, are engaging in the “worst form of infidelity”. So, I really don’t think Mrs. White is someone that you should be trying to use as an authority figure in support of your arguments here. She simply doesn’t help your cause.
If Adventism fossilizes it will become a relic.
Having solid “pillars of faith” isn’t the same thing as “fossilization” or lack of growth potential. Just because some truths are set in stone does not mean that additional truths cannot be found.
You see, if you view everything as open for “reinterpretation” you really have no solid basis for viewing the Bible as authoritative on any subject. For you, the popular views of scientists trump the even the clearest claims of the Bible. Why then view the Bible as authoritative on anything? – if it is so inconsistent and obviously false when it comes to some of its clearest empirical claims?
If you wish the Bible said, God so loved the Adventists that He gave his only begotten Son….then keep on holding dear your present understandings and close your mind to any challenge to previously held beliefs. But if you believe God so love the world, then some of you who are still flexible enough and in love with Jesus enough to give up your cherished opinions in the face of rather clear evidence, ask the Holy Spirit His opinion on this, not mine, Sean’s, or Ellen White’s.
And how does the Holy Spirit speak to you? – contrary to the claims of the Bible or a modern prophet like Mrs. White? Do you think you have access to more direct communication with God than Mrs. White or the even the authors of the Bible? Really? How then are we supposed to “test the spirits”? (1 John 4:1 & Isaiah 8:20).
And let me be clear I don’t think it important that you change your opinion on the age of the earth. I think it only important that you don’t elevate your opinion or belief to status of a doctrine.
The literal nature of the creation week has always been elevated to the status of foundational doctrine for the Seventh-day Adventist Church since it was first established by the found fathers, and mother, of the SDA Church. Mrs. White, in particular, wrote an entire chapter on the literal nature of the creation week as a foundational concept and truth in chapter 9 of her seminal work “Patriarchs and Prophets” entitled, “The Literal Week.” (Link).
That you refuse fellowship and blessings on fellow believers in the Advent Message and mission in this world, who feel that progressive creation and intelligent design are paths that bring us back to a place where we can become again useful in the conversations and issues of our age, instead of marginalized outsiders purifying our little lives while the world goes to hell in a handbasket without a Jesus they could believe in, untarnished by scientific feudalism and unsupportable chronologies. It is not your belief in a young life creationism that is the problem, it is your insistence that it is the only valid belief and exclude the considerable other interpretations of Scripture and understanding of science.
First of all, where have I argued for “refusing fellowship” with those who don’t yet accept the claims of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Fellowship isn’t the same thing as membership or being a paid representative of a particular organization. Some of my best friends are not Adventists (shocking I know!). Some are agnostic or even atheistic in their views. Yet, we are good friends just the same. It’s just that they don’t claim to be “Seventh-day Adventists”. They are not as inconsistent as you seem to be. Remember, its Ok not to be an Adventist. Non-Adventists can still be good people and having a saving relationship with Jesus. It is just that, if you one claims to be an Adventist, one would think that such a claim means something – as in the idea that taking on the title of an organization means that you actually believe in and support at least the primary goals and ideas of the organization you claim to represent.
Beyond this, where is your solid scientific support for doubting the claims of the Bible? I mean, what you’ve presented so far as “science” seems pretty weak, at least to me – especially in the face of numerous strong evidences for a recent arrival of life on this planet. Why not at least try to address some of the problems, that appear fundamental to me, with your “science” that I’ve presented in my discussion of your claims? – as well as some of the evidences that seem to strongly argue in support of Biblical position on origins? Such a discussion would be most interesting – at least to me.
For now, it seems to me like you really haven’t thought very critically about the arguments you’ve presented. It seems more likely you’re simply parroting various claims you’ve heard from others without doing very much of your own personal investigation into the actual credibility of these popular but misguided claims of modern “science”.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Common Arguments Against a 7-Day Creation Week
Jesus talked about Genesis in literal terms – to include the literal 7-day creation week and the worldwide nature of the Noachian Flood. Clearly then, the credibility of the Scriptures mattered to Him since He often cited Scripture, and the accuracy of its historical claims, as the basis of authority for many of His arguments against His opponents.
So, while it is possible to be saved in ignorance of the Scriptures and their credibility (by living according to the Royal Law that is written on the hearts of all mankind), it is the Bible that is the means by which God offers us meaningful hope in and understanding of the reality of the “good news” of the Gospel Message in this life – a message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in order to bring us a solid hope and rational understanding of a new and better life beyond this current evil world. It is this hope that gives the Christian who has such knowledge an edge, a serious advantage, in this life. This gospel message of hope, based on historical knowledge of real events, helps to make this life more bearable. And, it is this hope that we are told to spread to those around us who are living in darkness without a conscious hope of a bright future to come while living in this evil world.
So, when someone undermines the credibility of the claims of the Biblical authors they are also, at the same time, undermining the rational basis of the Christian hope. After all, even Paul said, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19). Notice here how Paul ties in the basis of hope and rational meaningful faith with a real historical event – the resurrection of Jesus.
The same is true for the rational basis of the Christian Hope today. It’s all based on the credibility of the claims of the Bible.
Common Arguments Against a 7-Day Creation Week
Thanks Wes. You’re most kind 😉
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Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:
“Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.”￼￼￼￼￼ Gal3:23-26
Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:
Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31
For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10