I’m going to put the guts of my Days of Proclamation view with the above discussion of the solid dome cut out, just so it will be on this site. References can be found on my web page. There is a bit more on my web page, the introduction, but I think it is important to see if anyone will tell me that my science sucks. I would love to hear of that. I am doing this so no one can claim that Genesis 1 HAS to be scientifically false, at least not without giving someone an option of it matching reality. Genesis 1 does NOT have to be a poem, it does NOT have to be anti-evolutionary, it does NOT have to be designed to avoid teaching science, It can be viewed as thoroughly scientific and thoroughly the work of the Creator, who is the only one who would KNOW what happened at creation. A FINALLY GOD DOES NOT HAVE TO ACCOMMODATE HIS MESSAGE TO FALSEHOODS AND STUPIDITIES OF NEOLITHIC CULTURES!!!
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The Days of Proclamation View
The Days of Proclamation view of Genesis 1 is an overlooked interpretation which avoids the problems above and allows us to really believe the account. It says Genesis 1 only consists of proclamations about what the Universe would be like. Nothing was created at the time of the proclamation. The phrase ’ and it was so ’ was added by the human author, telling his readers, look around, this was accomplished. What the account doesn’t say is as important as what it does say. No where does the human writer say: "and it was so, instantly ". The assumption that each proclamation was instantly fulfilled is a long-held belief, but one that isn’t really in the Scripture. There are eight proclamations on 7 days, day three has two. With each proclamation, I will break the Scripture up between what God said, and what the human writer added to show how the Days of Proclamation view work.
The picture above shows the relation between Genesis 1 and 2. The Days of Proclamation (DoP) view holds that Genesis 1 is the pre-temporal planning of the universe. I will discuss the ancientness of this view in Proclamation 1. The DoP places time between Genesis 1 and 2.
I come from an old earth/evolutionary perspective, as will be seen below. I believe billions of years separate Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Young earth creationists can use the Days of Proclamation view to avoid Lee’s criticism by changing the amount of time this view places in between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and still hold to their time scale. While I think young-earthers hold to an invalid time scale, there is nothing to stop a young-earth person from avoiding Lee’s criticism via this means.
Is Genesis 1 Historical?
Genesis 1:1 is an executive summary of the rest of the chapter. In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. To those who believe in God, this verse seems to be obviously true. But because many Christians believe Genesis 1 is not scientifically accurate, I did a informal poll over the years. I have asked hundreds of Christians if Genesis 1:1 is a historically and scientifically accurate statement. Even those who claim there is no science in Genesis 1 will say it is historically and scientifically accurate, and then say the rest of the chapter is scientific mush. Only one liberal Christian in all those years said, it wasn’t accurate. I never could understand his reasoning. But if Genesis 1:1 is historically accurate, why can’t the rest be accurate as well? I think it can be.
The Days of Proclamation might be hinted at in Genesis 1:2, " The earth was formless and void. ./" What could that mean? Looking up synonyms for formless we find that tohu , formless, means, without plan , without design , without configuration, without pattern , without structure, without framework . This strongly hints that God had not yet set up the plan for the earth. If form is the opposite of formless, then what St. Basil says is interesting, with regards to this view, " The form of the world is due to the wisdom of the supreme Artificer ."2 The earth was formless because the Creator hadn’t formed the plan. Genesis 1, I believe, is the outline of that pre-temporal planning. Looking up synonyms for bohu , void, we find it means, bare, empty, and lacking. Again, it appears that there is no plan in place for what would fill the earth.
Proclamation : Then God said, “ Let there be light ”;
Human writer’s addenda : " and there was light".
Information from what isn’t said : It doesn’t say “and there was light instantly”
The account has God saying " Let there be light "; it doesn’t have Him saying " Let there be light and there was light ". That would make no sense. The phrase, " and there was light ", is the editorial statement of the human author. " Let there be light " is the statement of God; " and it was so " is the statement of the human writer… This is how the Days of Proclamation view approaches each of the proclamations in Genesis. Remember, this is the pre-temporal planning of the universe. The ‘and there was light’ was added to the account maybe billions of years after the proclamation.
Pre-temporal is both a logical and an old view.
Is viewing Genesis 1 as pre-temporal sensible? Absolutely it is. No matter whether one believes all of Genesis 1 is pre-temporal planning of the universe, or believes these statements immediately created the light, part of this first proclamation is pre-temporal. When God said 'Let ', there still was no light, time or space. When God said ’ be ’ there still was no light, time or space. The first part of this sentence is clearly a pre-temporal event until the sentence is finished and light comes into being. So even if one rejects the Days of Proclamation view which has all of Genesis 1 as pre-temporal planning, there is no getting around the fact that the first creative proclamation was stated logically prior to the universe’s existence. So why not take a look at how a pre-temporal interpretation of Genesis 1 improves the fit between science and the Bible. Secondly, both Christians and Jews have taken at least parts of this passage as pre-temporal. Nachmanides, a medieval Jewish rabbi, said the whole Torah was written prior to the creation of the world. He explains why Moses doesn’t list himself as author:
" The reason for the Torah being written in this form [namely, the third person] is that it preceded the creation of the world , and needless to say, it preceded the birth of Moses our teacher. ” 3
St. Basil, looking at Genesis 1:3-5, notes that there is an oddity in the account. Instead of saying “the first day,” the Hebrew says " was one day ." New American Standard translates it this way. The Hebrew word e-hat is the word for one, and it is translated everywhere else in the Bible as “one”, “single”, or “only”, but never as first. Basil suggests that this day is connected with eternity past.
" If then the beginning of time is called one day rather than the first day, it is because Scripture wishes to establish its relationship with eternity . It was, in reality, fit and natural to call one the day whose character is to be one wholly separated and isolated from all the others . "4
Earlier in his essay, St. Basil had presaged the above statement with:
" The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. "5
The first day was eternity past plus the first day of creation. With these two statements, St. Basil began the path to the Days of Proclamation view by making the first day, pre-temporal.
The Importance of Light in Genesis 1:3
Liberal Christians, by this I mean those who do not believe the early Genesis accounts contain history or scientific information. will often agree that Genesis 1:3 is historical and scientifically accurate. I am a physicist so Genesis 1:3 tells me much about nature. To me it is quite interesting that the pre-planning mentions light first. It is fundamental to the nature of the universe. It is implicit in the nature of light. When God called light into existence, we know that the velocity of light is measured in distance divided by time. Light’s existence requires both time and space to exist. Because light travels in space-time and the shape of space-time is controlled by the gravitational field, we also know that gravity was in existence. General Relativity is about both gravity and the space-time that comes with it. Gravity is one of the fundamental forces in nature. Light is a form of radiation formed by time-varying electrical and magnetic fields so we know electromagnetism existed. . Further, since science shows that at high temperatures, electricity, magnetism and the weak force (responsible for radioactive decay) are all one force, we know the electroweak theory was in existence. To explain this a bit more, while at high temperatures, electromagnetism and the weak force are one, at our temperatures, they split into two different forces. This simple sentence “Let there be light,” proves God was thinking about 3 of the 4 fundamental forces in the first planning event.
Science tells us that the first thing that came into existence in the big bang was light. The first 30-50,000 years after the big bang was an era dominated by radiation, called the radiation era. During the radiation era, it was too hot for quarks to condense and hold together to form particles. So, with the very first proclamation we know a lot about the universe. Thus with this simple statement we know that 3 of the 4 fundamental forces of nature are in existence, and we match what we know of the big bang. Thus, I think that proclamation is as true as is the Genesis 1:1.
Proclamation : Then God said, “ Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. ”
Human writer’s addenda : God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.
Information from what isn’t said : It doesn’t say when God made the expanse in relation to the proclamation.
Some will find this section very eisegetical (reading modern things into the Scripture) but as I said above, God has to communicate truth both to Neolithic farmers and to 21st century scientists. There is a way to interpret this proclamation as scientifically true. As it is currently interpreted. as showing a vaulted domed sky, this is a troublesome proclamation and it is ridiculed by skeptics. Interestingly, that idea might have come not from the Hebrews but from the Greeks. There was a mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate. The Vulgate translates, raqiya , as 'firmament. but etymologyonline explains why it is a bad translation. That site says:
" Used in Late Latin in the Vulgate to translate Greek stereoma “firm or solid structure,” which translated Hebrew raqiya, a word used of both the vault of the sky and the floor of the earth in the Old Testament, probably literally “expanse,” from raqa “to spread out,” but in Syriac meaning “to make firm or solid,” hence the erroneous translation." 6
So, why did the Septuagint use stereoma as the translation for raqiya ? A fascinating article which traces the idea of the vaulted sky, says that Hellenized Jews, knowing of Ptolemaic science bent the translation so as to match what they thought was known about the heavens. Since the Ptolemaic system had 8 solid crystalline spheres with stars, sun, planets and moon embedded in them, the Septuagint translators chose stereoma to match Greek beliefs. Expanse doesn’t have the same meaning as firmament. Thus the vaulted sky idea ultimately came from the Greeks, from their understanding of the Ptolemaic system, and thus wasn’t demonstrably a Hebrew idea. Further, it is quietly likely that the Syriac meaning of rqi a was influenced by the Septuagint as well, causing the dictionary compilers to call it make firm.
Raqiya does not mean solid, it’s root is ‘expansion’, which is very interesting, of one thinks of the expansion of space. In my opinion, this word should never have been translated ‘firmament’. It was a bias caused by the Septuagint and the Vulgate… Because of the Vulgate, firmament made it into both Strong’s and Brown-Driver-Briggs concordances on Hebrew. Frankly, using ‘firmament’ absolutely makes the Bible false, because it gives the view that the sky was a solid dome separating waters above this solid dome from the waters below. We know this is false from Science. If you want a false Scripture, read no further, there is no point in wasting your time. Those who suggest to me that we can’t interpret the Scripture in any other way than the way the Neolithic Hebrews read it, condemn the Bible to be scientifically false with no hope of it ever being interpreted consistently with science. If the Bible is false, it shouldn’t be believed.
So how do we get out of this problem? Consider, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate … " Separate has two different meanings, the first is to “divide”, and that is the meaning normally given to this verse. This meaning leads to falsehood. The second meaning is “force apart”. If we use this meaning then the verse reads: Then God said, “ Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it force apart the waters from the waters. ” This indicates continuing action as opposed to finished action when separate means divide. Further, ’ force apart ’ is more consistent with the meaning of raqiya 's root, expansion.
With this meaning, then we can match modern science, and there are several possible ways to match modern science. My favorite, because it is simple is that it might refer to the expanse between the clouds and the earth, which we see every day. It is a fact that updrafts keep the clouds afloat, so maybe this is what it is referring to. The updraft of air acts moves the water up and away from the earth and only when the drops are too big to be held up by the updraft, do they fall as rain. If you watch a cumulus cloud growing, you can see it getting taller, spreading up and away from the earth.
Secondly, while the Neolithics couldn’t have known of this, we all know of the expanding universe. Galaxies are separated from each other by the expansion of space itself. This is why the use of raqiya is so interesting. It is like there is a double entendre here, as some have observed dual meanings in Biblical prophecies. Space’s basic nature is to expand, in the sense of forcing things apart. Space expands because of quantum mechanical properties of space, which generate the cosmological constant for general relativity. Now you can see the match from this possibility–Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate waters from waters. This could be the separation of galaxy from galaxy, or it could be the collapse of matter to form planets in a solar system, where gravity’s pull separates the areas of the nebula going into one planet or the other. All of these interpretations makes Day two proclamation match science.
If one of the latter two interpretations is true, why did the Hebrews say waters? Well, they had no word for matter, and water seems quite common in the galaxy. Both gases in space and stars in gravitational fields can flow, like water when gravitational interactions are just right. When galaxies collide one can see stars flowing from one galaxy to another. See the picture below. You can see the bridge of stars flowing from one to the other.
[discussion of the vaulted sky/flat earth cosmology cut out but can be viewed above or on my web page.]
Proclamation : And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place , and let the dry land appear :
Human writer’s addition : " and it was so ."
Information from what isn’t said : doesn’t say when dry land appeared.
To match this proclamation, all I have to do is to follow Wiki’s article, History of Earth.17 When the earth first formed, there were no continents, no oceans. The earth’s surface was a basaltic crust lying over magma, melted rock. As the convection of this hot fluid proceeded, the minerals began to separate, with the lighter minerals being granite and forming the seeds of the continents. Just before 4 billion years ago, these proto-continents were formed and the water had begun to condense, causing erosion and the formation of sedimentary rocks. Once the oceans formed, erosion began, and we find the earliest sedimentary rocks prior to 4 billion years ago.18 Also, a clearly layered sedimentary rock is said to be 3.9 billion years old.19 This proclamation, made pre-temporally, was fulfilled long after the big bang, but early in earth history.
Proclamation : And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth:
Human writer’s addenda : and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Information from what isn’t said: Doesn’t say when.
This is the point at which I must disagree with my young-earth brothers and sisters. The plain reading of this passage is that the earth is doing the work of bringing forth the grass etc. One has to ignore the grammar to claim that the earth didn’t bring forth this life. Look at the words, " Let the earth bring forth… .". God ordered the earth to bring forth life. This means the earth was doing the work. While God gifted to the earth the ability to produce plants, it was actually the earth that did the bringing forth. This is mediated creation.
The idea of mediated creation was held by many of the church fathers. St. Augustine believed that God put potentialities into creation which developed later in other days:
" For Augustine the seminal reasons have a real physical existence, but in the creation act recorded in Genesis 1 they were not produced with definite bodily form. They did not exist actually but only potentially, and contain as potential all possible species of particular things."20 " Augustine stresses that everything was created before it appears on the earth, so that things are not created at the time when they appear. "21
St. Basil wrote that it was the earth that travailed to obey God:
" Let the earth bring forth. See how, at this short word, at this brief command, the cold and sterile earth travailed and hastened to bring forth its fruit ".22
He further writes that God gifted the earth with grace and power to bring forth life!:
" At these words Let the earth bring forth, it did not produce a germ contained in it, but He who gave the order at the same time gifted it with the grace and power to bring forth. " 23
John Chrysostom agrees that the earth was awakened to bring forth life:
" What is really remarkable and surprising is that the one who now by his own word awakens the earth to germination of so many plants and demonstrates his own power surpassing human reasoning, " 24
Chrysostom says it was the waters which were activated by God’s spirit, so that the waters brought forth life.
" but what does this word mean, the Spirit of God was carried on the waters? It seems to me that it reveals to us that the waters possessed an effective and vital virtue . They were therefore not stagnant and motionless, but they moved with a certain activity. For every body that rests in total immobility is completely useless, while the movement makes it fit for a thousand uses. " 25
Chrysostom says this about the ability of the waters to produce life:
" Therefore the Holy Prophet said that the Spirit of God was carried on the waters, to show us that they possessed an energetic and secret force, and it is not for no reason that Scripture expresses thus; for it wants to dispose us to believe what it will tell us later that animals were produced from these waters by the command of God, creator of the universe. "26
Yes, by the command of God, but the water did the work.
So, now we see that God didn’t directly create the plants but indirectly created them by empowering the created earth and waters to bring forth life, we can see here, that this is consistent with evolution. If only Christians had paid attention to grammar, we might not have the problem with accepting evolution that we have today in the church.
Proclamation : And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth :
Human addenda : and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. Information from what isn’t said : Again, it doesn’t say when God made the two great lights.
This proclamation is so easy to fit with the knowledge of modern science that I almost don’t know what to say further. The sun formed billions of years after the big bang, and so did the moon. Some stars in our galaxy formed very early in cosmic history.27 Never the less, they were formed, I think all can agree.
Proclamation : And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Human addenda : And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
Information from what isn’t said : again, no claim that this happened instantly.
Yes verse 21 says " And God created… " but He did it by making the waters capable of bringing forth the living creatures.
This passage is one that is particularly criticized by Biblical critics for having fowl created with fishes, something that didn’t happen in the geologic record. Fish first appear in the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago, and birds arose in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago. If we Christians insist that this verse has to be interpreted as instantaneous creation, then we doom the scripture to being false. In my mind, if there is an interpretation that allows the Bible to be factually true, we should take it.
I should talk about the birds here. The phrase as translated in Genesis 1:20 in King James as:
" fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven ."
Open firmament is an oxymoron. Firmament is solid, not open. Even the Hebrews knew that birds didn’t bump into a solid object in the sky. This is a hint that raqiya should be translated as expanse, as the NASB says: let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”
The bolded part in
Hebrew is………: al,… ha-ares,……. al,……. pene,……… raqiya,……… has-sa-ma-yim
Strong’s meaning: above, earth,… across, . the face,. of the firmament,… of the sky
I have put commas between the English corresponding to the Hebrew. Note that al, is translated differently in its two occurrences. pene is translated “before” 77 times, and sometimes as “before the face of.” Given this and what we have said before, about raqiya , this phrase could be translated as “above the earth before the expanse of the sky” and it would be perfectly correct scientifically, not holding to the idea that birds could bump into a solid wall up there and in some sense recognizing that so much of the expanse is far beyond the birds–outer space. As I have said, if there is a way to interpret the Bible as true, let’s take that path. To do otherwise, and then claim it is Gods word is illogical.
Proclamation : And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind:
Human addenda : and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Information from what isn’t said : Doesn’t say the creation was instant upon God proclaiming it.
Again, we see the earth doing the work of bringing forth these living creatures. God empowered the earth, but the earth did the work. Again we see the statement God made but the proclamation makes it clear that God did it indirectly by means of the earth.
I think it is time to talk about the phrase “after their kind.” This phrase is often claimed to rule out evolution but it doesn’t. The phrase means, “of various kinds”. Strong’s translates it “according to its kind.” This means, crocodiles, deer, cows, cats, dogs, rats, etc. These are the kinds of animals. The phrase says nothing about the reproductive abilities of the animals. If it did, the sentence would say, “And God made the beast of the field reproduce beasts of the field after its kind.” Since it doesn’t say that, we can say, the phrase means " of various kinds " again through the mediation of the earth by the empowerment of God.
Proclamation : And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Human addenda : So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Information from what isn’t said : Doesn’t say when man was created.
While the proclamation was a plan of what God was going to do, this proclamation is different than the ones above. This proclamation says that He (Trinity?) will make man, directly, and in His image. He didn’t use the earth to create us, or at least not all of us. Our bodies show many similarities with the great apes, including non-working genes, called pseudogenes that we share with them. This does show our bodies evolved, but, and this is important we are unique in that we have God’s image.
Many of my atheist friends will roll their eyes at the claim that we humans are unique. Well, we have a symbolic language, and our language does not come from the same part of the brain that language of the apes comes from. Indeed, the area of our brain that produces language is unique among the animal kingdom. Ian Tattersall writes:
" Indeed, Jane Goodall believes that vocalizations are so closely tied to emotional states that ‘the production of a sound in the absence of the appropriate emotional state seems to be an almost impossible task for a chimpanzee.’ Even among chimpanzees, the sound production appears to be controlled in the brain by the ancient structures of the limbic system and the brain stem, which we’ll read about shortly and which are involved in emotional response. The ‘higher’ centers of the brain do not appear to be much involved. This is a far cry (sorry!) from language as we humans know it, which is initiated in those higher centers the cerebral cortex) and is dependent on production and interpretation of sounds in isolation from the emotional states of the speaker and hearer. It is also dependent upon rules of grammar, syntax and so forth that are totally absent from the sound combinations chimpanzees make. So, no. Not only do chimpanzees not have language; they don’t even have an incipient form of it. "28
Alone among the animal kingdom, humans wear clothing. No, a hermit crab shell is not clothing. He didn’t make it, he just absconded with the shell. Even the Ona and Tasmanians, the most abjectly poorest humans on earth when they met Europeans, had articles of clothing, small as they were.
Alone among animals, humans can control fire.29
Humans are the only species to cook food.30
As Aristotle noted millennia ago, man is a rational animal. No other animal pursues knowledge for knowledge sake.
Humans are the only animals to engage in mathematics via proving theorems. This is just one of the many ways we exhibit symbolic abstract thinking. No other animals do that.
No other animal produces art as humans do. Yes, some collect objects for display, like bowerbirds, but none make multicolored pigments to paint objects, and only paint when encouraged to do so by human trainers. None do it in the wild.
Humans are the only creatures who try to figure out where we came from.31.
Humans have a unique sweating system. I won’t get into it here, but it is. This reminds me of God telling Adam, “By the sweat of your brow”.
Humans are the only species who can chose to be evil on either an individual or a massive, organized scale.
Humans are the only species to engage in pornography.
We have come to the end of the Days of Proclamation view. I feel it is the only way to interpret Genesis 1 in which it will be scientifically true. People can and will continue to avoid conflicts with science by saying that Genesis 1 isn’t meant to convey scientific information, because it is poetry (which it is not quite like Psalms), or because God didn’t intend it to teach science (How they know God’s intent when He didn’t state it, is never made clear). That is their choice and freedom, but such views miss an opportunity to address the criticisms atheists throw at the Scripture. At the very least, I hope this discussion will help someone who is on that slippery slope, beginning to see the problems in Genesis as insurmountable.