Must We Abandon the Twenty-Four Hour Day Interpretation of Genesis One?

Opinion By David Kowalski

Creationists are divided between old and young earth advocates. Old earth creationists accept the results of standard dating methods and interpret Genesis one with these presuppositions in mind — seeing each creation day as representing an era in time. Young earth advocates treat the days as literal ones, taking that presupposition into their interpretation of the scientific data.

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Within the Evangelical community, it seems that the young earth view is more popular with the general public, while the more academic element in Evangelicalism seems to favor the old earth position. I don’t think one can prove either position from scientific data. If the data spoke unambiguously to one side or the other, the lessons learned from the Galileo affair would lead us to interpret Scripture accordingly. Nevertheless, old earth creationists sometimes invoke Galileo’s name as though the scientific case were settled.

I don’t pretend that the material below proves a young earth, but I do think it shows the young earth view is more respectable than many people think. None of the information in the link is new to old earth advocates, though. They do have their own contrary interpretation of the data, but I think on these specific points the young earth creationists make quite respectable arguments that cannot be dismissed as easily as old earth advocates are prone to claim. Thus, I do not think those who interpret the days of creation as 24 hour days are forced to alter that interpretation.

I have included an appendix which lists eighteen discredited arguments sometimes used by young earth advocates. These are not used by knowledgeable young-earthers.

The information below is a bit dated as it was put together in 2004.


Some Intriguing Young Earth Arguments

A. Comets disintegrate too quickly. Comets (which are supposed to be the same age as the solar system) lose so much material on each orbit around the sun that none could survive much longer than 100,000 years. The reply of old earth advocates that the Oort Cloud supplies new comets is inadequate since there is no hard evidence for the existence of the Oort Cloud.

B. The earth’s magnetic field has been decaying so fast that it could not be much more than 10,000 years old. Had it been decaying at the present rate for a longer time its original strength would have been great enough to melt the earth. Old earth scientists have only provided highly speculative replies to this problem.

C. The lack of very old supernova remnants indicate that all observable supernovas have occurred within the time constraints of a young universe.

D. Galaxies wind themselves up too fast observed rotation speeds of our spiral-shaped galaxy indicate that it would lose its spiral shape within a few hundred million years. Attempts by old earth advocates to answer the winding up dilemma have been inadequate.

E. Not enough mud on the sea floor. Uniformitarian analysis can only account for 12 million years of deposition (not the three billion years evolutionists claim the ocean has existed). Flood geology posits that the bulk of these deposits occurred very quickly as runoff from the flood.

F. Not enough helium in the atmosphere and too much in the rocks. The amount of helium which has decayed from rocks into the atmosphere (adjusted for the small amount of Helium loss to space) indicates the age of the atmosphere is only thousands of years.

G. Fossil radioactivity shortens geologic Ages to a few years. Squashed Polonium- 210 radiohalos indicate that Jurassic, Triassic, and Eocene formations in the Colorado plateau were deposited within months of each other (rather than the millions of years required in the old earth scenario).


Young Earth Answers to Old Earth Arguments

A. “Dating methods indicate an old earth.” Radiometric dating presupposes information that cannot be known (the initial ratio of parent to daughter element and the amount of changes to the open system of the given rock). Rocks that are only days old have been measured to be billions of years old by this method.

B. “Distant starlight indicates an old earth.” Russell Humphreys’ white hole cosmology offers a possible solution to this problem. Old earth creationist criticisms of Humphreys have often been inaccurate. (See Russell Humphreys’ much debated book, Starlight and Time, published by Master Books).

C. “The amount of fossils refutes flood geology. To account for the fossil record by the flood we would have to assume that the earth was swarming with dozens of animals per acre over the entire earth (or perhaps hundreds per acre in subequatorial Africa).”

Not true. This argument is based on an extrapolation of a questionable calculation of the number of vertebrate fossils in the Karoo system of South Africa. To extrapolate this figure over the entire earth is like arguing that all of Kansas City must have had as many people in it per square foot last Sunday as there were in Arrowhead Stadium during a football game. Furthermore, even if one accepts the most generous estimate for the Karoo system (800 billion) and extrapolates it only across subequatorial Africa, the resulting figure of 800 reptiles per hectare (2.47 acres) would not be impossible in the pre-flood environment, especially since this dense of a concentration of reptilian life can be found at places on the earth today.

D. “Young earth advocates do not have legitimate college degrees.”

This is a hasty generalization based on one example (Kent Hovind) whose doctorate is in fact from a diploma mill). Many young earth creationists have outstanding academic and professional credentials.

E. “There was too much activity on day six of creation to have been accomplished in 24 hours (even though young earth creationists do not necessarily subscribe to the twenty-four hour day interpretation of Genesis chapter one, most do).”

This problem is associated with naming the animals (livestock, birds of the air, and beasts of the field [Gen. 2:19-20]). First, it appears that fish, water dwelling mammals, and creatures that move along the ground (Gen. 1:24 NIV) (which would include most reptiles, insects, and many small mammals) were not included in the naming at this time. Furthermore it is not specified exactly how fine of distinctions were made between types of animals at this time. Day-age theorist Gleason Archer estimates that these types numbered only in the hundreds.

F. “Young earth advocates are unable to cite the work of mainstream scientists.”

Not true. They merely cite smaller portions each time since they have less in common with evolutionists. An examination of any of Henry Morris books, for example, will reveal a large number of references to mainstream scientific journals.

G. “Young earth science is not able to make successful predictions.”

Based on the presuppositions of his white hole cosmology, Russell Humphreys successfully predicted the magnetic field strengths of Uranus and Neptune. Voyager confirmed the accuracy of Humphreys predictions, which were radically different than those of old earth proponents.

The above arguments may not prove the young earth position but I think they are credible and worth listening to.




Arguments Creationists Should Not Use

(adapted from the Answers in Genesis website)

1) Darwin recanted on his deathbed (not true, and even if it were it would be irrelevant to the facts of science).

2) Moon-Dust thickness proves a young moon (based on poor science and NASA wasn’t expecting more than was encountered).

3) NASA computers have discovered the missing day and 40 minutes of Joshua 10 and 2 Kings 20 (hoax, not even possible without a fixed reference point before Joshua’s long day).

4) Wooly Mammoths were snap frozen during the Flood catastrophe (discredited in various ways).

5) The Castenedolo and Calaveras human remains in old strata invalidate the geological column (the first is an intrusive burial and the second is a hoax).

6) Dubois renounced Java Man as a missing link (misrepresentation of Dubois’ intent).

7) The Japanese trawler Zuiyo Maru caught a dead plesiosaur near New Zealand (it was a rotting shark carcass).

8) The Second Law of Thermodynamics began after the Fall (entropy is needed for life it is not inherently a curse and its effects were likely held in check by God’s preserving power before the Fall).

9) Women have one more rib than men (removal of a rib would not have changed genetic instructions passed on to offspring).

10) No new species have been produced (not true new species have been observed to form [though this rapid speciation is within kind and involves no new genetic information]).

11) Archeopteryx is a fraud (it was genuine but it was a true bird, not a missing link).

12) There are no beneficial mutations (we should rather say “We have yet to find a mutation that increases genetic information, even in those rare instances where the mutation confers an advantage”).

13) Paluxy tracks prove that humans and dinosaurs co-existed (the tracks are inconclusive).

14) Darwin’s quote about the absurdity of eye evolution from Origin of the Species (taken out of context).

15) Earth’s division in the days of Peleg (Gen. 10:25) refers to the catastrophic splitting of the continents (poor hermeneutics).

16) The Septuagint records the correct Genesis chronology (not true).

17) Arguments or “evidence” offered by Ron Wyatt or Carl Baugh (unreliable sources).

18) Missing solar neutrinos prove that the sun shines by gravitational collapse, and is proof of a young sun (the “missing neutrinos” have been found).

© Copyright 2013, David Kowalski. All rights reserved. Links to this post are encouraged. Do not repost or republish without permission.

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First published (or major update) on Sunday, January 20, 2013 Central European Time (CET).
Last minor update: Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 3:54 AM CET   

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