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R. Moderator, Honoured Opponent, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Once I held the view that my honoured opponent advances here; that the
days of creation in Genesis are periods of geological significance, and
are aeons instead of solar days. Then I lent myself to a real study of
the question, and became honestly convinced that the Genesis account is
to be received as a literal week of time, seven days in extent, each
day of twenty four hours duration.
It might be said I had an intellectual and mental conversion: and I am
bold enough to suggest that when my worthy and honourable opponent has
read my argument he might himself be converted from the error of his
fallacious position! He will then accept what Moses undoubtedly
intended to convey; the idea that creation was consummated in
twenty-four-hour days, six in number. On the seventh solar day God
ceased from His works, as all had by then been finished.
My honoured opponent seems proud of the fact that he has five lines of
alleged and so-called proof; but the most careful examination of his
argument seems to demonstrate only one thing: a man of brains and ability can make out a plausible case for any side of any question, regardless of the truth of the matter.
But as for proof that the days of Genesis are literal ages, my friend
has failed to advance any real evidence. Supposition and human opinion,
even when that opinion is of the most scholarly is not
evidence or proof, and the "five
lines" seem to sort of fade out to a nebulous character upon thoughtful
examination. But I do not need to remind you of this, you have already
heard, or read, the Doctor's arguments.
Now, if there is any virtue in the number of lines of argument, and my
dear opponent seeks to impress you with the fact of his five points,
allow me to state that I will advance TWELVE
lines of evidence to show that the days of Genesis arenot
geological periods. I believe this is about the usual and logical
balance of data: for every five arguments in favour of my opponent's
side of the question, there are twelve on my side. So that in
establishing my case it is not my ability or knowledge which will
certainly win for me this debate: but the very evident fact that the
vast preponderance of the evidence is on my side of the question!
Dr. Riley will find, I am afraid, that while he might reply
successfully to certain of my proofs one at a time, when they are
massed and presented as a group, they are invincible. I am reminded of
the little boy who whittled a shingle (thin wooden slat) into a paddle,
and went down to the pasture to swat bumble bees. In the course of the
morning he successfully disposed of a dozen or more, and was highly
elated. An hour after lunch he set out to show his big brother how the
trick was done. The first bumble bee they found was starting down into
a hole, and the youngster said, "Now watch me swat him." The older
brother advised against it, but in spite of this advice the youngster
waited until the bumble bee was coming out of the hole, and hit it a
most glorious and enthusiastic wallop. Alas! he did finish that
individual bee, but there were more in the hole, and they came out in a
hurry. The boy fled, but not fast enough; and when his older brother
saw his swollen countenance an hour later, he laughed and said: "I
thought you were the fellow who could handle bumble bees. I thought you
said you killed more than a dozen this morning." The little fellow
replied, "I did. But these fellows were different; they were organized
and hung together." I am afraid that my revered opponent will find he
is badly stung, when he grabs hold of the business end of these twelve
lines of real evidence and convincing proof. The argument in the
aggregate is so convincing my friendly enemy here will probably be
converted; if not, at least I will have the satisfaction of seeing the
thinking part of this audience voting for my side of the question.
Riley is right when he says that this word, in the Hebrew language has
many varieties of meaning. He is also right when he says its meaning is
sometimes an indefinite period of time: but he then proceeds to argue
from this true premise to a false conclusion; that is, because the word
sometimes means an indefinite period it cannot mean a solar day in
Genesis the first chapter. That this is a fallacy we see at a glance,
when we note some of the instances where yom
is a time period indefinite in extent. A clear case of this kind is in
Genesis 30:11, where Moses writes:
"And it came to passabout this time (yom ) that Joseph entered the house about his business..."
Here the wordyom
is translated "time," and the context, "about this" shows that the time
element is indefinite in this case. Again we read in Genesis 4:3:
"And it came to passin process of time (yom ) that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord."
Here again the context shows by the words "in process of" thatyom
is to be translated as an indefinite period. The same is seen again in
Genesis 26:8, in Leviticus 20:15, and in many other references too
numerous to mention. But in every instance where
yomis to be rendered as an indefinite period the context clearly shows this to be the case!
This is the established rule in this matter: the context shows if the wordyom
is other than a definite time period. Now in the seven says of the
Genesis creation account, the context not only fails to show that the
time element is indefinite, but on the contrary clearly demands a
fixed, or solar day limit!
appears in the Hebrew text 1480 times, and is translatedday
1181 times in the English Bible. This then establishes the general rule
for the guidance of the investigator; the wordyom
is to be renderedday,
unless the context holds some reason and authority for translating it
otherwise. But please note that the authority is to be found in the text, not in the writings and ideas
of some geologist who came on the scene some thousands of years after
Moses had finished writing this Scripture by the inspiration of the
By this rule of translation, then, we are obliged to accept the days of
Genesis in the account of creation as solar days, literally as we
understand the word day in our own language. There is no textual
evidence, or warrant, for departing from the meaning of the word that
is established by a vast preponderance of cases.
There is abundant evidence of this, and out of the scores of
references we might advance, we quote only these: Genesis 7:10:
"And it came to pass after seven days (yom ) that the waters of the flood were upon the earth."
The presence of the numerical article, seven, denotes the fact that
these days were literal solar days, of some twenty four hours each.
Again, in Genesis 8:4, we read:
"And the ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day (yom ) of the month, on the mountain of Ararat."
Here the presence of the numerical article, seventeenth, shows beyond
the shadow of doubt or the possibility of controversy that it was a
literal solar day which is intended. We see the same thing illustrated
in Genesis 8:10:
"And he stayed yet other seven days (yom ) and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark."
The presence of the numerical article, seven, here makes it imperative that we accept these sevenyoms as literal days, as we understand that word in our English speech today. It is not necessary to multiply these instances indefinitely, but many scores of cases can be shown where this rule is faithfully followed: the presence of the numerical article shows that the day is a literal solar day. All these references that we have given, and many others more that could be given, are from this same book of Genesis, and from the pen of the same Moses who tells the story of creation in six periods, called days. What does Moses mean by the word day as used in this creation account? There can be no question here: he prefixes the word in each case with the definite numerical article, and it is absolute violence to every rule of translation and interpretation to call the days so designated anything but solar days. Thus we have the clear statement: "And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day."
This phrase is repeated again and again, with only the article changed; Day one, second day, third day, and so on through the seven days. The appearance of the number in each case demands that we accept it as a day of literal meaning, that is, twenty four hours.
My learned opponent admits the strength of my case here, and the
weakness of his own, when he seeks to confuse the issue by quoting a
text from the Greek of the New Testament (!) to refute a rule of
translation and interpretation from the Hebrew of the Old Testament!
The many debates he has had on evolution have taught him at least one
thing: he learned this method from his enemies! But we have heard him
skin those enemies too many times for these same tactics, to let him
get away with it here and now; and we call him back to "taw" and tell
him to "knuckle down" and stick to the Hebrew for Old Testament
philology! Indeed, the Greek text does
say that there is a day
that is to the earth as a thousand years: but the entire context of the
third chapter of Second Peter tells us that day is the day of judgement
that is to come on the earth. It does not say in the Greek that all
God's days are a thousand
years long: if they are, my eminent opponent has knocked his own case
into a cocked hat: for he contends that these "days" were tens of
thousands of years long, and then quotes Peter to show that they are
only one thousand years in duration. The fact remains, however, that
Peter is talking of the day when God's wrath is poured out, and he is not
talking of the days of creation. We wish to remind our hearers once more, that in theHebrew,
in which Moses wrote this account, the numbers, connected with the day,
is a textual demand that the literal solar day be accepted.
That is granted: but what has it to do with the matter of the time element in the first chapter of Genesis? On this very day, even while I am writing this paper, the snow is swirling through the atmosphere, and right here in Minneapolis the rays of the sun have not reached the earth for the entire twelve hours of daylight. True, the light has been feeble and grey, and I have reinforced it with the aid of the electric bulb, which I have been forced to keep burning all day: but it has been a day just the same!
What is it that makes a day? Dr. Riley is under the infantile error that it is the shining of the sun. Not at all: a day is the diurnal revolution of the earth on its axis. Out in space the sun is shining, whether we see it or not, and the earth is spinning in the face of that sun at such a rate of speed it turns every longitudinal plane of its surface to the sun's direction once every twenty four hours for convenience sake; but a solar day is nothing more or less that the time it takes the earth to make one complete revolution on its axis. Whether the sun is visible during that time, or no, has nothing to do with the question: the time consumed in the complete revolution of the earth is what constitutes the "day."...
the "Land of the Midnight Sun" six weeks go by, and the sun is never
seen. Midnight blackness covers the land for six weeks: the sun's rays
do not reach that section of the globe, but forty two days go by nevertheless:
why not three such in the first week of time? Age after age, the earth
has revolved in Stygian blackness, and darkness and gloom have hidden
Earth's face from the light of the sun. Now the voice of God is heard,
and while the flaming beauty of the sunrise and the sunset is absent,
yet the black pall is relieved by the influence of the sun that is as
yet unseen, and the pale light of Creation's first day prevails where
impenetrable darkness long has reigned. This condition prevails for the
first three days, or revolutions of the earth on its axis, then the
command of God is once more heard, and the planet is freed entirely
from the fog and vapour that have so long obscured the light of the
sun. Spinning in its ceaseless motion, as it long had been accustomed
to move, the earth suddenly is gladdened by its first sunrise. Brighter
and warmer beams the beauty of the direct days that now for the first
time shine upon the globe, and in a flaming burst of splendour they
finally fade below the horizon, testifying with their colour and glory
that a new order has been established. But the diurnal revolution of
the earth has not been changed: and the reason the sun faded from sight
on the Fourth Day was because the earth kept right on turning, as it
had the first three days, and aeons before these days began. This
argument of my beloved opponent should be dealt with in the spirit of
charity we accord all feeble and tottering things; the next time you
live a day or a week through the rain or fog, and do not see the sun's
direct rays, take Dr. Riley's authority and say they are not days. Your
landlord, however, may insist on collecting rent for every time the
earth makes a complete revolution on its axis, whether the sun is
visible or not. And if Dr. Riley owns and rents property, he will do
It may be argued from the English translation, that a time-period is
possible in the meaning of the word day, but the Hebrew Text is
emphatically the reverse. As an instance, on the first day the text
"And God said,ye hi or, wa ye hi or !"
There is no absolute literal translation from the Hebrew into the
English of this phrase, but the nearest we can come to it is perhaps:
"And God said, Light, exist: and light existed!"
The entire phrase is one of instant, absolute obedience to a pressing
command, and implies an act consummated in the instant of its
inception. Here, on this day, more than on any other perhaps, the era
theory of my esteemed opponent appears extremely ridiculous. Why in the
name of common sense should it take the Omnipotent Creator five hundred
thousand years to receive a response to His command, "let light be!"?
Especially when the text may be transliterated "Then God said 'let
light be!' and light was!" Did it take God a half million years to
speak this sentence, or was the light slow to obey? Or did it come at
once, and God then waited five hundred milleniums before he started any
further activity? Truly the proponents of the age theory are like those
of old who strained out a gnat and swallowed the camel!
To help Him out, we are asked to accord Him the Geological crutch for His aid. Indeed, my friendly opponent in this debate implies as much, if he does not say so outright, when he infers that the vast events of the creative days are too stupendous for one solar day, but possible to a geological age. This, his peculiar argument, does not apply with its implication of limitation, to the God Whom I recognize as the Creator: "He speaks, and things are done; He commands, and the hills are formed." I most emphatically challenge the eminent Doctor whose enthusiasm and unquenchable Irish spirit have led him into defending the wrong side of this question to answer simply and boldly this question, "Could God have accomplished the events of any one of the six days in a period of twenty four hours?"
When he replies in the affirmative, as he indeed must, he will then
have spoiled his case for the time-factor of ages and ages for each
day, by the concession of all we contend. For God, twenty four hours was enough!
Indeed for Him twenty four minutes was more than ample for the work of
each day. But, as He in the beginning established the rate and speed of
the diurnal revolution, as twenty four hours, what more natural than
that He should conform to the order He Himself had established?
This is the profusion of fossil records, attesting to the vast amount
of life in ages past. It is contended by the proponents of this era
theory that each rock system contains too vast a number of individuals
to admit they came in twenty four hour creation. We, however, who are
content to accept the simple fact of the Mosaic intention, that these
days were solar in duration, do not contend that the vast numbers of
individuals all came on the day that saw the birth of their order, but only that the original ancestral pair of each kind were created on that day.
We do not say that in twenty four hours God covered the entire earth
with pine forests in their present profusion, with wild ducks by the
millions, with humans by the myriads; but only that on each day in
which a certain work is done the origin of beginning of that kind is
recorded. There has been plenty of time since for the natural reproduction
of the innumerable progeny of animal, plant, fish, bird, reptile,
insect and human kinds, and for the fossilisation of some of them as
well. My respected opponent has elsewhere contended that many of the
fossils may have been formed at the time of the flood of Noah; well,
there was plenty of time between Adam and the age of Noah for this
multitudinous life to have developed. Indeed, this was the literal
command of God in the day He created them:
"Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth."
wildest flights of my honourable opponents fancy (and some of them are
wild!) cannot go as far as to say that Moses intended to convey the
modern geological idea of aeons in each day of creation. This is an
idea born of science that came long after Moses, and he, in his simplicity penned the words of God with the evident intention of conveying the accepted idea of a day as we know it.
If, then, we try toread into
the Mosaic account theories and ideas Moses never intended to express,
are we not liable to the charge that we are "wise above what is
written," and are we not in a very definite sense "adding
to" the sacred record? All the ancient fathers of Israel accepted the
text of Moses as being solar days, and it was not until the Church
Fathers became enamoured of the new Grecian philosophy that any
suggestion of an aeon, or era, or geological age was read into the text.
They are itsirreconcilable
enemies, and their programme does not call for reconciliation with the
Scriptures, but rather eradication of the Scriptures.
was born to uphold the contentions of the enemies of the Bible, and we
owe them no consideration in the matter. Now, since the evolutionary
geologists have been so uniformly mistaken in their every other
contention, why should we assume that they are right here, and yield a
concession in the time element that they so glibly demand?
indeed "carry their quiver full of aeons:" why should we stock them
still further, and load their quivers with darts to be cast at us? The children of God do not need to borrow ideas from the sons of the world:
the Book of God needs no interpreters from among the ranks of its
enemies. So we stick to the idea of the writer, Moses, that creation
was finished in six days, and concede evolutionary geological theories
nothing in the matter of aeons.
This is without exception the method Moses used in each of the six days of Genesis. He defines them each as a day with an evening and a morning. Now we gleefully challenge our erudite and esteemed temporary opponent to give us a verse in the Hebrew text where a geological age is thus described, "And there was evening, and there was morning, one geological age." Even the scholarly gentleman who debates this question with us will admit the impossibility of that: the evening and morning exclude any other interpretation but that of a solar day.
Indeed, the entire body of Scripture reference supports this solar idea of the creative days to the exclusion of any other idea. Let us note, as an instance, the sixth day and the seventh. On the sixth day Adam was created, and on the seventh day God rested. Which "day" are we now, the sixth, or the seventh? If the sixth day was a geological age long and we are in the seventh day (and the text tells us it has already followed the sixth day), then it has been at least five hundred thousand years since Adam. And Adam lived over from one geological age to another, since he was alive and cast out of Eden after the seventh day of God's rest, thus establishing a record for longevity that beats Methuselah all hollow!
Another Scripture reference that should settle the matter, and would,
if my dear opponent were not [an idiot], is the quotation in Hebrews
4:4, where the inspired writer refers directly and specifically to this
seventh day in the book of Genesis. The reference reads:
"For he hath said somewhere of the seventh day in this wise, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."
In the Greek text of the New Testament this word is "hemera," and it
always means solar day. If the days of Genesis are aeons, why did the
inspired writer of the New Testament call them "hemera" (solar days)
instead of "aeons" (ages, or eras)?
In giving the Law on Mt. Sinai, God speaks through Moses, and Moses merely reports God's words when He says:
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work, but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord thy God; In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: therefore Jehovah blessed the seventh day and hallowed it."
Here, then, is the reason the Jews were to observe the seventh day: God rested on that day.Are the Jews to work six geological ages and rest the seventh geological age?
Such a contention is silly! The plain words of the text say, "Work six
days and rest one day." Why? Because God did that and the Jew was to
commemorate His finished work. Why twist this entire paragraph out of
its evident meaning, and make Moses to say, "Six
days shalt thou labour, and on the seventh rest, because God worked six
geological ages, and rested one geological age!"
Moses used the
same word for the six days of God's work as for the six days the Jews
were to work: he used the same word for the seventh day of rest as he
did for the time span that God is said to have rested. Why cannot we
accept the plain statement of the text, and rest content therein?
On the third day of creation three stupendous works are wrought, that only the Almighty could perform. The ocean is formed: the dry land appears: and botany is born! This third day is characterised, as are all the others, by evening and morning. Now, if the rays of the sun did not reach the planet until the fourth day, if this was a geological day, the vast world of botany lived half that age in absolute darkness, and the other half in what my eminent opponent calls "a pale cosmic gleam"; and between the half of the age that was dark, and the half that had some kind of light from the first day source, these plants lived some five hundred thousand years without any direct rays of the sun to nurture them. And yet my most distinguished opponent was raised on a farm! I will leave this argument to any farmer or horticulturist in America; could the plants have survived an entire geological age, of some half million years, with no sunshine at all? They could have easily survived, on the other hand, if the days were solar days in duration: many green plants have to last through several days of cloud and fog without the direct rays of the sun. But the thought implied, nay, demanded, by the era school, that the plants grew, matured, bore fruit and seeds and reproduced their kind through a half million years of no sunshine will not hold water. And then think of the chaos in the world of botany on the fourth day, which is also divided into two periods of light and dark, the evening and the morning. Two hundred and fifty thousand years of sunshine when the sun appears, then two hundred and fifty thousand years of darkness when the evening lasted, and the plants survived. If this "reasoning" establishes the theory of geological ages for the days of creation, it is the reasoning of the mad house, and not of sane and sober students of the Word of God.