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Untwisting the Knots Naturalism Wraps the Bible Into

Opening page of Genesis in Hebrew, photo credit: Jim Brenneman

[Originally published as Putting the FUN in Fundamentalist, one DAY at a Time]

The Following is from a conversation I had with a Catholic friend I like and admire.

If you are defining a “Fundamentalist” as someone who refuses to accept any part of the bible as poetic or figurative, then I do not apply. My defense of Genesis 1 as history is not out of some broad-brushing of the entire Bible as literal fact, every word with no exceptions. When I get to Psalms, I know God is not actually a rock or a shield or a tower. I defend Genesis as literal history because I believe it is written as literal history, and I know that there is not a single piece of data from science which argues against it. Atheistic interpretations or atheistic fictions, yes, but facts of science- NO. Again, I said plenty about that in my previous email.

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You brought up the fact that YOM can mean more than one thing, it doesn’t have to be translated as “day” in a literal sense, just as our English word day doesn’t have to mean a literal 24 hour period. And of course you are entirely correct. I didn’t mention this in my previous email because I thought I had said enough already, but since you brought it up, it is worth discussing. The question is—how do we know what it was meant to mean- a day or a long period of time? Simple—context.

The word YOM is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament, and every single time it is used with ordinal numbers, or with “day,” or with “night,” or with “Night and Day” the word YOM means a literal 24 hour period. Out of hundreds of times it is used in these ways in the OT, it is never used to mean anything other than an ordinary 24 hour day when used the way it is used in Genesis. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?

The author of Genesis 1 has used every possible means of conveying the fact that the word DAY (YOM) is intended as literal which Hebrew allows. Also, there are words in Hebrew which are intended to refer to long periods of time, and the text of Genesis 1 never uses any of them.

When you use the rest of the Old Testament to understand what the text of Genesis 1 means by its use of the word YOM, you have to conclude that it is intended to mean an ordinary, 24 hour day.

There is evening and there is morning. One day.

And if you choose to ignore this fact and define YOM to mean millions of years, then the other OT verses which use it in the same manner become nonsense.

  • Jonah is in the whale for 3 million years,
  • Moses sat in judgement over the Israelites for 12 million years,
  • Joshua marches around Jericho for 7 million years or more, etc.

Literary context helps define words, and in the case of YOM used in Genesis 1, it must mean a normal 24 hour day.

When people reject the plain reading of Genesis, it is almost entirely because they have some prior dedication to deep time and Big Bang cosmology. I have heard many people take a non-literal position on Genesis 1, but I have never heard anyone say they came to that conclusion BECAUSE of the text. When they explain why, the reason always starts with, “Because SCIENCE…”

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But science does NOT disagree with the Bible.
Atheism does.

Once again, my defense of Genesis as written is not based on some ignorant, childish insistence that every passage be taken literally, but from a study of the text itself. The same, you will see, is true of my defense of Genesis as scientifically accurate.

You said that Genesis is not a science text, and of course that is true. No history book is a science book. A science book explains how things happen, and historical accounts describe what happened.  History tells us that President Lincoln was shot. Science tells us how gunpowder works, and how to predict the path of a bullet, and the neurological damage sustained by a shot to the head, etc. Genesis tells us what God did and when, but not how he did it. I doubt we have the language to accurately convey that anyway.

So why reject the Big Bang model as a history of the universe?

Because it is ultimately debunked by science. Spike Psarris was an atheist who studied cosmology and astronomy professionally, and it was his study which proved to him that the universe was not billions of years old. He became a young earth Creationist before he became a Christian because of what he learned about science. The Big Bang, like evolution, fails on its own merits.

One does not need to first accept Genesis as literal before they reject evolution and Big Bang cosmology—one only needs study enough science. I am a science teacher, and so I have studied the science. And because I love Jesus and I love science, I love teaching people why science proves the Bible to be true and trustworthy.


You can find some of Spike’s writing here, but I recommend you find his videos on You Tube.

Or just stop by my science resource site:

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Written by Bryan Melugin

Bryan runs, teaches science and theatre, makes cartoons and puppets, and wants everyone to know and love Jesus.

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