One of the objectives of Biologos is to convey the message that seals the unity between science and religion and to recreate faith to those who are troubled by scientific observations that seem to be contrary to the Word. The main question is: what is causing this separation?
Indeed, the field of religion is so vast that there are subjects that cannot be included in these discussions. This is the case, for example, of faith and the mysteries that accompany it, as Jesus said: "If you have faith, you can move mountains ». (Mt 21:21). Moreover, Saint Paul himself said: “Faith is a firm assurance of things hoped for, a demonstration of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). It is understandable why this cannot intervene in the debates between unity and science. In order to account for this, we notice that in these debates, everything revolves around the questions that are related to creation.
By following these debates in different forums, we have been able to notice that many divergences are due to misunderstandings. Indeed, how to put on the same table a story that dates back to 1500 years BC compared to new scientific terms created 2000 years after JC? To defend or to demonstrate to scientists that we often speak the same language and have the same conception, we ourselves must first understand the biblical scheme of creation beyond what we read and bring it to the table of debate.
In the experience of faith, sometimes the words that come out of the mouth do not reflect what is going on in the heart.
In one biblical account, we are told about Pharaoh’s dream (Gen. 41). If the secrets of this dream were not revealed by Joseph, today everyone will read it as such. People will start interpreting about the cows, while Joseph’s first sentence was that these cows represented years of abundance. And, in the following, we saw that he was indeed right.
Thus, to better engage in the debates between science and religion, we ourselves will have to ask ourselves if we understand what we are defending beyond what is written. If not, it is better to ask questions to understand the subject we want to address.
My contribution to these days in this forum is to bring clarification on the days of creation. If we can understand the meaning of six days of creation, we would no longer be confused about the dating of fossils, or even about evolution.
As I said, in the debates of unity between science and religion, the first point that is rejected by scientists in the biblical creation scheme is the six days of creation. Indeed, science has discovered that the universe is currently 13.8 billion years old, whereas according to the literal analysis of the Bible, the universe is still six thousand years old. Moreover, according to science, each process in the creation took millions, even billions of years, while for the biblical scheme of creation, it took only one day. For example, between the Big Bang and the creation of the Sun, it took 9 billion years, while according to the biblical scheme of creation, it took only 4 days from the origin to the creation of the Sun.
All these considerations make that the religious engage the head low in these debates where they cannot brandish this diagram, which besides is already qualified of the accounts resulting from the oral traditions whose true source was lost. This last consideration is unanimously accepted by atheist and Christian intellectuals. I am writing this article in order to restore confidence in the foundation of the biblical scheme of creation. Therefore, at the end of this article, I will only answer questions that are related only to what I have just published.
In relation to all that is said about the biblical scheme of creation and even what is taught in theology around this scheme, there is a verse that I always like to remind everyone without exception namely:
Ex 33: 11 “The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend”.
So, if we know that the 10 commandments come from God, we should also know that the biblical scheme of creation that is attributed to Moses also comes from God. And in God there is only perfect knowledge. If today this scheme is relegated to cosmogony, it is because no one has ever understood it, and no one has ever rendered it well. Hence, scientists and atheists qualify them with all the attributes they want without the religious having any palpable proof. St. Thomas Aquinas said: “If there is a biblical verse that does not answer the observations, the problem is not the verse, but rather our interpretation of this verse” . This is indeed what I discovered after spending many years probing the biblical scheme of creation.
One cannot understand the cosmological pattern of biblical creation without knowing the notion of time and work in the Bible. These preliminary concepts are a foundation for understanding the biblical creation scheme. Since Moses, the writer of Genesis, later referred to the day after the six days as a weekly Sabbath, many believers and non-believers alike think that each day of creation was necessarily 24 hours long. If you try to prove otherwise, you will be called a concordist or a validator of a lie.
If the explanations of what follows come from me, but what I will have to explain comes from the Bible as said by a great man of God; the Founder of “The Way Internationale”, Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille: “the Bible interprets itself”. It is to say that to the question of knowing if the creation took place in six days, the bible itself answers through the following verses that we will have to develop and that it has nothing to do with concordism:
2 Pet. 3: “But one thing, beloved, you must not be ignorant of, that in the sight of the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”.
The biblical language used by Moses was said in such a way as to make the message clear to his contemporaries. The vocabulary was not as rich as it is today.
We should know that the spiritual language, contained in books qualified as sacred such as the Bible, the Koran, the teachings of Buddha, Confucius, the Mayan writings or other esoteric books related to spirituality, are very different from the literary or common language. The same word can have different meanings.
For example, when the Bible speaks of death, it refers to man’s separation from God through sin, not physical death. Thus, in the phrase “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), we see saints dying young and seasoned sinners dying at around 99 years of age. And when the Bible talks about eating, it is the context of the sentence that determines whether it is something taken with the mouth or sexual intercourse.
This is to say that the biblical sentences, although pronounced with a common language, have another meaning, in relation to the true reality. It is a spiritual language called parable, and often pictorial.
The notion of time
2.1 The existence of the notion of time In the Bible
The Genesis story makes us see a God who creates things in an instantaneous way, like a magician; this is false according to our literal analysis, and even according to the analysis of Pope Francis. Indeed, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014, Pope Francis said, “When we read the account of Creation in Genesis,” he noted, "we risk taking God to be a magician, waving his magic wand to do everything. But it is not so. (cfr : Europe - Actualités, vidéos et infos en direct ).
Thus, there is indeed a notion of time in the creation story and this notion is well defined in the same Bible. Many religious people think that introducing the notion of time into the biblical creation scheme is a way of diminishing God’s omnipotence, which is not true. In everything God has done, there has always been a notion of time. God’s omnipotence is revealed through the perfection of the things he made, regardless of the length of time it took, included in a day, in the space between an evening and a morning: " there was an evening and there was a morning " (Gen 1:5-27).
2.2. Meaning of the word “day” according to the Bible
The lack of knowledge of the explanation of the days of creation in the Bible meant that no religious person could stand before the scholars with convincing arguments.
In the whole story of the biblical creation, there is a phrase that keeps coming back, namely “there was evening and there was morning” to mark both the beginning and the end of a creation or a day according to the Bible. And this corresponds to the beginning and the end of an era, according to science.
Indeed, the Bible interpreting itself as Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille said, and considering the books contained in the Bible as a Whole by the Christians, whose Hero in the shadow is God, the biblical day as quoted in the first chapter of Genesis is well defined in the same Bible in 2 verses and that does not raise concordism on our part as we can read them:
Ps 90:4 “For a thousand years are in thy sight as the day of yesterday, when it is no more, and as the watch of the night.”
2 Pet 3:8 “But one thing, beloved, you must not be ignorant of, that in the sight of the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”
Despite these biblical verses, no Christian has been able to relate them to the days in the biblical creation scheme, believing that everything appeared simultaneously on the basis of the word.
There are two very important words in these verses, namely “ignore” and “as”. First of all, we should not ignore the notion of time. Secondly, there is the comparative term “as”: “one day to God is like a thousand years”. Here, the word “equal” is not used, but rather “like”. This simply means that a biblical day can represent as many days, as many years as a cycle or an era can take. So to say that creation was made in six biblical days has nothing to do with our twenty-four hour days. Rather, it represents six major stages which, as science has discovered, took thousands, millions, even billions of years.
Moreover, the sequence of events as related in the first chapter of Genesis is the same as what science has discovered so far: man being the last of the creatures to appear on earth. We will have to demonstrate this step by step.
A striking example that shows that these were not ordinary days, but periods, is that during the first two days of creation in Genesis chapter one, there was not yet the creation (appearance) of the lights to mark the notion of time. This occurred in Genesis 1:14, during the fourth period of creation.
Ge 1:14 “God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of heaven to separate the day from the night; let them be signs to mark the times, the days and the years…” 19. 19 "And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
So the first two days were fixed according to what, since the notion of time began on the fourth day? It was fixed according to the outcome of the evolutions that were taking place in the Universe.
Let’s just take the six events of the first day "… the spirit of God moved over the waters… and God separated the light from the darkness. So there was evening and there was morning: that was the first day. When did these waters begin to exist, until we reach the last phenomena? We can see without even making an analysis or concordism that it is an unquantifiable time but that the author has contained it between an evening and a morning and has qualified it as a day.
In order to talk about the notion of time, two ingredients must be present, namely, a star revolving around another. The rotation of the star on itself and its translation or revolution around another, thus create the quantifiable notion of time. That of our planet Earth around the Sun has been divided into 24 hours and now serves as a reference for all notions of time. But, as I said, during the first two days of the creation, there was no creation of stars to serve as a basis for the calculation of time. Therefore, the days spoken of in the Bible in chapters one and two of Genesis are periods and not our ordinary twenty-four hour days.
This development of thought goes hand in hand with the thought of scientists that we can read:
" Cosmologists would like to specify the dates of these phenomena and obviously study them. But how to get information about what happened during the dark ages when there were no stars to shine…"?
(Cfr: futurasciences.com. First stars of the universe: signals finally detected, Laurent SACCO. 02/03/2018).
All this is to confirm that there was indeed a notion of time in the history of the biblical creation, and the days we are talking about have nothing to do with our days of twenty-four hours; fixed on the basis of the movement of the Earth around the Sun. Rather, they are periods that cannot be quantified in the Bible, but which the author divided according to the fulfillment of one ideal and then moved on to another. Once an ideal is accomplished, no matter how long it took, the author of the biblical scheme of creation contained it in one day. And, as I said, we will have to refer to the explanation I made for 2 Pet. 3:8.
Thus, with the notion of biblical time explained, we discover that there are no discrepancies between science and the Bible. Science only makes us discover how many millions; even billions of years were contained in each period of a biblical day. It is the same when the Bible tells us that man is made of the dust of the earth. Today science has confirmed this by revealing the elements of the earth that were part of this dust, the largest part of which is carbon.
This is the explanation that I bring to the scientists and to all the religious people who were wondering about the time of the creation. I think that I have contributed positively to this debate between science and religion and that I have answered the objective of Biologos.