A Brief Look at the Genesis Framework

Note: This is merely a brief overview and not an in-depth, extensive defense of the framework hypothesis

I have espoused a certain degree of skepticism about ‘young-Earth creationism’ (e.g. here, here, and here). Along with an endorsement of an old Earth comes the questions of how to interpret the opening passages of the book of Genesis. There are two broad categories that are usually denoted ‘literal’ and ‘non-literal’. In the first category, the days of Genesis 1 are taken as actual demarcations of time that are either 24 hours in length (calendar day view) or unspecified but several million or billion years in length (day-age view). At one point or another, I have endorsed both of these perspectives, but, for exegetical reasons have abandoned them. The most critical error would be the issue of light temporally preceding any of the light bearers (e.g. sun, moon, and stars). For an in depth perspective, consult this paper where Meredith Kline brilliantly combines the light issue with Genesis 2:5 to make a potent case against the literal view.

 

It’s not uncommon for people to be uncomfortable with the idea of a non-literal Genesis. Often, the charge is made that if Genesis 1 can’t be taken entirely literally then the entire Bible can’t be taken literally. Similarly, the issue of a non-literal opening of Genesis leads to a non-historical Adam which then unravels the theology of Romans 5. However, these are unwarranted concerns. A Scriptural passage can detail history in a framework or other poetic structure without being entirely metaphor. For example, Judges 4 and 5 describe a (literal) battle that Israel fought but the chapters use two completely different styles. So, “history or mythology” is a false dichotomy. When approaching the Genesis narrative, it reads most like a Poetic-Structural narrative.

Now, there are several markers that are used to determine whether a passage fits in the poetic-structural genre. First, it must be chiastic or strophic in structure. These correspond roughly to poems in the form of A-B-C-A-B-C-D (strophic) and A-B-C-D-C-B-A (chiastic).

Next, it must have four of the following six characteristics:

  1. repetition of traditionally symbolic numbers [e.g. 7, 10, 3]
  2. word plays
  3. parallelism on the sentence level
  4. rhyme and meter
  5. imagery
  6. similes/metaphors.

Genesis 1-3 meets these criteria and is split into two halves, 1:1-2:4a and 2:4b-3:24.

Half 1 is in the strophic form. A-B-C corresponds to Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 which are the “forming days” i.e. God is creating the realms for the future inhabitants. The second A-B-C series corresponds to Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 where these are the days of “filling” i.e. each realm is filled with its respective inhabitants. D corresponds to Day 7, the Sabbath which is wholly different from the rest of the creation week and operates as a termination point.

A: God creates the realm of Light
B: God creates the realm of Sky/Water
C: God creates the realm of Land/Vegetation
A: God fills Realm 1 with Luminaries
B: God fills Realm 2 with Birds/Fish
C: God fills Realm 3 with Land Creatures/Humanity
D: Sabbath termination of creation event.

Half 2 is in the chiastic form where the literary symmetry is much like a parabola. The points are as follows
A: God places humanity in the Garden
B: God speaks bringing all the beasts of the fields, creates Eve, establishes ideal marriage relationship
C: Temptation to forsake God and warning of spiritual death
D: Man and woman break their initial covenant with God
C’: Consequences of forsaking God and experience of spiritual death
B’: God speaks cursing the snake amongst all the beasts of the field, spells out the negative implications for husband-wife relationship outside of the covenant
A’: God banishes humanity from the Garden

Having met the first criterion, the remaining are as follows

  1. There are several examples of special numbers being used. Here is just a small sample: The phrases “let there be”, “make”, “and it was so” each occur 7 times in the passage. Verse 1 employs 7 Hebrew words.
  2. The phrase “and God saw that it was good” (which also occurs 7 times) is a play on words with the Hebrew phrase for “desolate” in verse 2. Additional examples include “naked” with “cunning”, and “tree” with “pain”.
  3. Parallelism on the sentence level is best seen in the triple repetition of verse 27: “So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them”
  4. The ten lines after verse 27 all hold to the same Hebrew rhyme and meter scheme
  5. There’s lots of dramatic imagery such as the total desolation of Earth and the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. Also, the Tree of Life is strongly contrasted with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  6. Lastly, there are lots of similes and metaphors including “you will be like God”, God “walking in the Garden during the cool of day”, God “breathing into the man the breath of life”.

Given all of this background, it seems immensely probable to believe that Genesis 1-3 is intended to be a poetic-structural narrative that is intended neither to be a straightforward historical account nor pure mythology. While these opening passages proclaim that God carefully created this universe and planet, they do not explain with precision how He accomplished this.

Sources

I borrowed many of the examples from Dr. Kirk MacGregor.

  • MacGregor, Kirk R. “Inerrancy and the Importance of Reading Scripture Biblio-Critically.” A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology. University of America, 2007. 171-93. Print.
  • Website: http://kirkmacgregor.org/
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99 responses to “A Brief Look at the Genesis Framework”

  1. Michael Snow says :

    I don’t see how YECs can claim to take Genesis literally when they ignore the literal view of the very first two verses. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/creation-young-earth-ham-nye-genesis-one/

    • caplawson says :

      Very interesting stuff! I’ve often pondered the Day 4 problem with the light preceding the light bearers but I haven’t thought much about the absolute declaration of verse 1. Thanks for the input!

  2. Grant Dexter says :

    “Given all of this background, it seems immensely probable
    to believe that Genesis 1-3 is intended to be a poetic-
    structural narrative that is intended neither to be a straightforward
    historical account nor pure mythology. While these opening
    passages proclaim that God carefully created this universe
    and planet, they do not explain with precision how He
    accomplished this.”

    Genesis has a poetic structure to parts of it. How does this mean it cannot mean what it plainly says? For example, Genesis says:
    Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the
    waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God
    made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under
    the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament;
    and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the
    evening and the morning were the second day.
    (Genesis 1:6-8 NKJV)

    How does Genesis 1 having a “poetic-structural narrative” mean these three verses cannot mean what they plainly say? What do these verses mean if they do not mean what they plainly say? Why should we accept an alternative meaning and dismiss the lain one?

    • caplawson says :

      First, I’m going to critique the exegetical method that you are using by means of a reductio. The Bible says Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” Why should we accept the alternative meaning of this being a “metaphor” and dismiss the plain teaching of Scripture that Jesus is a plant?

      As you can see, this gets us nowhere and is highly unproductive. Using this kind of reasoning to get at the truth of Scripture is rather silly.

      Second, I’d like to ask what you think Genesis 1:6-8 plainly says. I don’t know what the writer of Genesis means by a “firmament”. An analysis of ancient near-eastern literature leads me to believe he thought something like this: http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/files/2012/11/Ancient-Hebrew-view-of-universe.png

  3. Grant Dexter says :

    1: We have good reason to believe Jesus did not believe He was a plant.
    2: Arguments from ignorance are irrational.
    What you need to do is show good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

    • caplawson says :

      I didn’t make an argument from ignorance, rather, I asked you to define your terms. If I’m going to have to rebut what is “plainly said”, then I need to know what you mean by “plainly says”. When I read Genesis 1:6-8, it seems to me to plainly say that there is a solid dome over the Earth.

  4. grantjohndexter says :

    Then perhaps you should believe that the bible teaches a domed Earth.

    • caplawson says :

      If I were to follow the hermeneutic that you’re suggesting, then, yes, I should think the Bible teaches a flat, disc-like Earth with a solid dome over it.

      Nice to see you joined WordPress!

  5. grantjohndexter says :

    You should first believe that the bible teaches “six days.”

    • caplawson says :

      Grant, the justifications you provide are equally valid for the position that the Earth is flat, disc-like, covered with a solid dome, and the centre of the universe.

      In semantic logic, there is something called an indirect proof wherein one assumes all of the premises and demonstrates that they generate a contradiction. Such is the case here. The premises that you provide which lead to “the Earth was created in 144 hours roughly 6,000 years ago” also lead to “the Earth is a disc, etc”. However, since you don’t believe the Earth is flat and covered with a solid dome (given your numerous references to the moon landing analogy) the inescapable conclusion is that the original premises are false.

      There is always the possibility that I have simply misunderstood what you mean by “plainly says” in which case I invite you to correct my error and provide a working definition.

  6. grantjohndexter says :

    Nope. What you have developed is an argument from consequence, not to mention the fact that none of the things in your descriptions are found in the bible. Meanwhile, scripture still says “six days” and you are yet to provide good reason why it cannot mean what it plainly says.

    • caplawson says :

      Here is the explicit form. Notation: “G” = “what Grant means when he says plain reading. “Y” = “the Earth was created in 144 hours roughly 6,000 years ago”. “F” = “the Earth is a flat disc with a solid dome and set on unmoving foundations in the centre of the universe”

      (1) G [A]
      (2) G→ Y & F
      (3) G → F [simp 2]
      (4) ~F
      (5) ~G [2,3 MT]
      (6) G & ~G [1,5 comb]

      This doesn’t show that YEC is false, but because G is false, the truth of Y is at least indeterminate and the method cannot be trusted. It’s still possible that I could be misunderstanding what you mean by “plainly says” but I’ll need a definition to know for sure.

  7. grantjohndexter says :

    Inventing scripture shows that you are uninterested in a rational discussion.

    • caplawson says :

      I am very much interested in a rational discussion which is why I would greatly appreciate a definition for what you mean when you say “plainly says”.

      Now, when I read Genesis 1:6-8 and take what I think you mean by “plainly says”, the image that comes to mind is a solid dome/firmament that holds back the waters above the sky. This is clearly not a representation of reality and this is also probably not what you mean by “plainly says” but it’s the best I can tell from what you’ve told me.

      When I read Genesis 1 with my understanding of “plainly says”, Genesis 1 seems to plainly display a literary framework which describes creative acts of God.

  8. grantjohndexter says :

    The bible says “six days.” Give us good reason that it cannot mean what it plainly says. So far you have got: “It is poetry.” How does Genesis being poetry mean “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says?

    • caplawson says :

      First, you have yet to define what you mean by “plainly says”. If you’re going to keep using that term, you need to define it or we’re just going to talk past each other. Please give me at least a working definition; it doesn’t have to be very precise.

      Second, you are asking the wrong question. The six days in Genesis can be calendar days. It is certainly a possible interpretation among several other competitors (e.g. Day-Age, gap theory, cosmic temple, Egyptian polemic, etc). However, the question should be whether or not that’s the best interpretation and I do not think it is. I listed a few of my reasons for thinking so above in the article. I’ll go into detail on any one you would like to know more about.

      Third, I did not say “It is poetry”. I said it is poetic-structural narrative which is a more precise term. “Poetry” is a wider term that can encompass many different types of writing. A poetic-structural narrative is a passage that describes actual history in a poetic way that includes lots of metaphor and dramatic imagery. I linked above to an example in Judges 4 and 5 which both describe the same historical/actual battle but in different ways. Take for example Judges 5:19-20

      “The kings came, they fought;
      then fought the kings of Canaan,
      at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
      they got no spoils of silver.
      From heaven the stars fought,
      from their courses they fought against Sisera.”

      Prima facie, it seems there was some kind of cosmic battle between the stars. But, does the reader actually believe such extraordinary descriptions are woodenly literal? Of course not, but, that doesn’t mean the battle didn’t happen. (Note: this is just an example).

      Now, when we look at Genesis 1-3, we see many similarities between its structure and other poetic-structural narratives throughout Scripture. Unlike Judges, Genesis does not have back-to-back chapters detailing the same event in both straight-forward history and poetic elaboration; only the poetic-structural narrative version is available for us. This is where I think scientific inquiry can help us put together the pieces of what has happened in this planet’s history and fill in the gaps in Genesis.

      I hope that helps clear up some of your confusion. Do you have any more questions, comments, or requests on elaboration?

      (By the way, if you would like to discuss these issues other than in short snippets of comments, check out the Published Dialogue page )

      • grantjohndexter says :

        “The six days in Genesis can be calendar days.”

        Then we are justified in sticking with what the bible plainly says and rejecting your idea.

        • caplawson says :

          Incorrect. I said that it is a possible interpretation but it is a terrible interpretation that doesn’t do justice to the test. Grant, is this seriously how you do exegesis?

          • Grant Dexter says :

            Then you will be able to show us. Why is it not reasonable to believe that “six days” means what it plainly says?

            • caplawson says :

              I still need a definition for what you mean by “plainly says”. I only ask to make sure that I’m actually engaging your position. I will proceed by assuming that by “plainly says”, you mean “the Bible teaches that the Earth was created in six, consecutive, 24 hour days”. If this is not what you mean, please let me know so that I can correct myself.

              What problems are there with taking this view? I would contend that there are major scientific, but more importantly, exegetical failings. Let’s focus just on two of the exegetical problems.

              First, this position does not coincide with the genre of Genesis. Instead of recognizing that Genesis is largely poetic and vague, this position tries to force very specific details where there aren’t supposed to be. By doing so, this position misses some primary points of Genesis 1 such as “God is sovereign creator over all things; even the things that the Egyptians and other heathens call gods”.

              Second, when taken strictly literally in the sense that this position suggests, there are contradictions between the timelines which don’t seem to be easily harmonized. For example: Light appears before the sun is created on Day 4. Plants come before man in Chapter 1 but after man in Chapter 2. Animals are created before man in Chapter 1 but after man in Chapter 2. In the space of 24 hours (closer to 12 hours if we consider sunlight), Adam is supposed to name every animal indigenous to the Middle East, get lonely, then undergo and recover from major surgery before meeting his new wife. It seems to me, the options are to either to say that these are not meant to be strictly literal, chronological accounts or say there are genuine contradictions in the Bible. I don’t believe the second option is available to Christians, so, the first seems more plausible.

              That’s just sort of a bird’s eye view on the difficulties I see with this position.

              • Grant Dexter says :

                Genesis is historical narrative. It is not vague — it is clear on its details.

                Genesis is not to be read in a strictly literal manner. Practically nothing is read that way.

                Your argument is an argument from consequence — you will not consider alternatives because of how they displease you.

                • caplawson says :

                  We have some common ground here, namely, we both agree that Genesis is narrative (albeit, you take the historical view and I take the poetic-structural). We also agree that there is a degree of flexibility in the literalness.

                  Is Genesis 1 vague? I think it is in some degrees. There isn’t much detail given about what is meant by “let there be light” and the nature of where this light comes from. “Let the earth bring forth plants/animals/etc” is pretty vague as well as the nature of this “bringing forth” is left undiscussed (there are some who suggest this is evolution at work but I’m not convinced).

                  Is my argument one from consequences? Not really. My argument says that the interpretative method leads to some direct self-contradictions (light and chronology) as well as some bizarre scenarios that don’t seem to fit the text (the events of Day 6).

                  Am I displeased by the alternatives? Sort of. I have endorsed YEC, gap theory, and day-age interpretations at one point or another in my life but have reconsidered and found them all to be lacking. So, it’s not that I won’t consider YEC at all, it’s that I no longer find it convincing.

                  Follow up questions

                  1) What reasons persuade you to think that Genesis is historical narrative and cannot be poetic-structural?

                  2) How are we to understand the light in “let there be light” prior to the creation of the sun?

                  3) What is meant by “let the earth bring forth”?

                  • grantjohndexter says :

                    “What reasons can you provide for thinking it is historical in form and cannot be poetic-structural in form?”

                    This is called a false dichotomy.

                    Genesis is an account of history. It has poetic form in parts.

                    It must be historical narrative because that is what it is — an account of the history of the world from creation up till the formation of the nation of Israel.

                    Perhaps you’d like to defend the challenge that has been put to you: How does Genesis having poetic parts mean “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says?

                    • caplawson says :

                      “It must be historical narrative because that is what it is” is not a reason; that’s stating your contention. It seems you’re taking the genre of the following sections of Genesis and importing it backward on to chapter 1.

                      I agree that “historical narrative” vs “poetic-structural narrative” is a false dichotomy de facto, however, the usage of “historical narrative” that you employed led me to believe you were contrasting the two as mostly exclusive. I will now clarify:

                      Where do we disagree about Genesis 1? We both agree that it is historical in some sense. You think that it is an actual, mostly literal, straightforward, ‘just the facts, ma’am’ description of the origin of the universe. I think that it is a dramatic, mostly metaphorical, somewhat vague, and imagery-saturated description of the same event. Think of a parallel between Judges 4 and 5: both are historical but both are completely different genres.

                      How does Genesis having poetic parts mean “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says?

                      Again, you haven’t provided a definition of ‘plainly says’. I will proceed by assuming that by “plainly says”, you mean “the Bible teaches that the Earth was created in six, consecutive, 24 hour days”. If this is not what you mean, please let me know so that I can correct myself.

                      You are asking the wrong question. The six days in Genesis can be calendar days. It is certainly a possible (yet, strained) interpretation among several other possible interpretations (e.g. framework hypothesis, Day-Age, gap theory, cosmic temple, Egyptian polemic, etc). However, the question should be whether or not that’s the best interpretation and I do not think it is.

                      What reasons are there for thinking this isn’t the best understanding of the text?

                      First, it doesn’t fit the genre of Genesis 1-3. This passage is broken into two halves; the first half is in the strophic form and the second half is in the chiastic form. To get the days to specifically correspond to 24 hour periods would be to strain at the tightly knit literary structure. It can be done, but mostly by reading 24 hours into the text.

                      Second, assuming the days are 24 hours and chronological, there are direct contradictions that fall out and implausible scenarios.

                      Contradiction

                        ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

                      Implausible scenarios

                        ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

                        ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                        ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here.

                      Third, there are what seem to be implicit hints throughout that these days are something different than a 24 hour period of night and day. For example, there is no evening/morning closure of the 7th day and the author of Hebrews could be hinting that the ‘rest’ of God from this 7th day is still continuing (for clarification, the phrase “the author of Hebrews” is not to deny the divine inspiration of the book of Hebrews). I this is the weakest of the three reasons but it’s worth noting to some degree.

  9. grantjohndexter says :

    Fflexibility in the literalness” is not a phrase I would ever use.

    Genesis is historical because that is its general form. It has some passages that have poetic form.

    “The earth bring forth” is a phrase that means some thing similar to:
    Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:20 NKJV)
    That is, it is a phrase indicating the place in which the created organisms were to live.

    Pretty straightforward stuff.

    • caplawson says :

      By “flexibility in literalness“, I was attempting to systematize what you meant by “Genesis is not to be read in a strictly literal manner. Practically nothing is read that way“. There’s probably a better phrase I could’ve used but that was the first thing I thought of.

      Concerning “Genesis is historical because that is its general form“: I’ve provided in the article above a brief overview of a few specific reasons for thinking Genesis 1-3 has a general form of poetic-structural narrative. What reasons can you provide for thinking it is historical in form and cannot be poetic-structural in form?

      I would ask the same question about “let the waters abound” that I do with “let the earth bring forth”, namely, what is going on? Is this spontaneous creation ex nihilo or are there secondary processes in play? I think Genesis 1 is vague on this and any answer would require going outside of the text.

      Are these meant to indicate the place where created things live? Certainly, but that’s not addressing the entirety of the text. The text seems to somewhat hint that there is some kind of action being performed by the earth. Moreover, there is no explanation about how the birds or animals came into being (e.g. ex nihilo, secondary processes or something else all together). This goes in line with the framework hypothesis in two ways:

      (1) the creation narrative demonstrates order and structure of the universe by describing specific realms (land, sea, sky) and their respective inhabitants (animals, fish, birds).

      (2) the creation narrative teaches that God sovereignly designed and created this universe and planet, but is somewhat vague in that it does not explain with precision how He accomplished this.

      To summarize, we’ve seen reasons to think Genesis 1-3 is a poetic-structural narrative and but are waiting for reasons to think it cannot be poetic-structural narrative and must be historical narrative. We’ve seen the understanding for “let the earth bring forth”, “let the sea swarm”, etc as realms of existence is more consistent with the framework hypothesis.

      • grantjohndexter says :

        You can’t “read 24 hours into the text.” The bible is explicit — creaton took “six days.”

        I am more justified in asserting Genesis as history than you are in asserting it as metaphor. The burden of proof is upon you to show the words do not mean what they plainly say.

        How does its genre mean “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says? And since your answer is: “It can mean six days,” I remain justified in rejecting your ideas and sticking with the words that are written.

        • caplawson says :

          So, you still haven’t defined what you mean by “plainly says”. If you’re going to keep using that term, you need to be specific as to what it means otherwise, we will end up talking past each other. The reason being that I think Genesis, as plainly read, is a literary framework describing creation as a poetic-structural narrative that does not force a particular chronology on the Bible-believing Christian. Since we have different understandings of what is “plainly read”, you will need to define your terms or abandon this phrase altogether.

          “I am more justified in asserting Genesis as history than you are in asserting it as metaphor” is itself an unfounded assertion! Moreover, just a few comments ago, you said “history or poetic-structural is a false dichotomy” and yet, you’re creating such a dichotomy here. Additionally, I didn’t say Genesis 1 is a metaphor; I said it used metaphor.

          Again, you are asking the wrong question. We don’t interpret Scripture by finding out the various things it can mean and then picking one we like or think sounds good. We look at all of the possible understandings of a text and then opt for the best understanding all things considered.

          I agree, there is nothing about the genre that precludes the days being 24 hours in length. There is additionally nothing in the genre that precludes these days from being thousands, millions, or billions of years long given the multiple meanings of the Hebrew word yom. There is also nothing that precludes these days from being a literary framework through which the historical creative acts of God are described. The objections to the 24hr interpretation are not because of the genre.

          What reasons are there for thinking the 24 hour day interpretation is not the best? Well, this interpretation generates two chronological contradictions, two highly implausible scenarios, and a contradiction in the nature of God’s providence. I have listed all of these in previous comments and cited a fantastic paper by Dr. Meredith Kline (who was considerably more qualified than me) that goes into considerable more detail.

          To summarize,
          ►we don’t agree on what “plainly says” is supposed to mean
          ►asking why something cannot be the case is a disingenuous hermeneutic. The correct question is what does a passage actually mean.
          ►the genre of Genesis 1 allows for several understandings of what a yom is (e.g. non-temporal logical moments, long but unspecified lengths of time, the 12 daylight hours, the 24 hours from sunrise to sunrise, etc).
          ►the objections to a 24 hour understanding are not in the genre but in the out-workings throughout the rest of Scripture.

          Appendix of referenced previous comments

          Contradictions

          ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

          Implausible scenarios

          ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.
          ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

          ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

          • grantjohndexter says :

            “There is nothing about the genre that precludes the days being 24 hours in length.”

            So why should I reject what the words say?

            “There is additionally nothing in the genre that precludes these days from being thousands, millions, or billions of years long.”

            Only if you ignore the words in the story. The words teach “six days.”

            • caplawson says :

              Scripture says “six days”; not “six, consecutive, 24 hour periods of time”. Given the definition of the Hebrew word yom and the poetic-structural narrative genre, possible understandings also include “six, consecutive, long periods of unspecified length” and “six, non-temporal, logical moments used in a literary framework to describe the historical act of creation”.

              You should not reject what the words say, rather, it would be reasonable to embrace a better understanding of the words which is more faithful to the text and internally coherent than the 24 hour view.

              I have provided three reasons rejecting the 24 hour understanding. These include (1) chronological contradictions, (2) implausible scenarios, and (3) contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions.

              When you are ready, you may engage these reasons for rejecting a 24 hour understanding.

              ——————

              Appendix of referenced previous comments

              Contradictions

              ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

              ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

              Implausible scenarios

              ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

              ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

              • grantjohndexter says :

                While you concede that the meaning could be what is plainly written, I find no reason to reject the plain reading.

                The bible says what it says. If it is contradictory within itself or with scientific investigation, then the bible should be rejected as an accurate account of history.

                However, inventing stuff it could mean because what it plainly says does not mesh well with what you believe is not a rational approach.

                • caplawson says :

                  The Genesis creation description is plainly written as a literary framework in a poetic-structural narrative. I provided several pieces of evidence in support of this.

                  These include:
                  ►strophic structure in the first half
                  ►chiastic structure in the second half
                  ►repetition of traditionally symbolic numbers
                  ►use of word plays
                  ►parallelism on the sentence level
                  ►use of rhyme and meter
                  ►use of dramatic imagery
                  ►use of similes/metaphors.

                  So, since this is the plain reading of Genesis, there is no reason to reject it. If you don’t agree, you will need to provide evidence to the contrary.

                  Yes, the Bible does say what it says; that is to just state a tautology. It is not contradictory to itself, rather, the 24 hour interpretation of day forces contradictions into the text where there aren’t any.

                  I didn’t invent the understandings that I listed. All of these have been endorsed by Christians since the first patristic writings. Your claim that I simply embrace what meshes with what I believe is false. I have already informed you that I used to affirm each of these understandings at one point or another but have abandoned them for exegetical reasons. I’m afraid you cannot escape the arguments in this way. If you want to refute the framework hypothesis, you must engage the text.

                  So far, we have seen several reasons to think the framework hypothesis is the best understanding of the Genesis creative narrative. We haven’t seen any positive reasons (yet) to affirm the 24 hour understanding. We have seen three reasons to reject the 24 hour view which are
                  (1) chronological contradictions
                  (2) implausible scenarios, and
                  (3) contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions.

                  As of yet, there have not been any attempts at a rebutting them


                  Notes

                  Saying I only embrace a view because it meshes with my presuppositions is an example of the genetic fallacy: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/genetic

                  The aforementioned objections to the 24 hour view are as follows

                  Contradictions

                  ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

                  ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

                  Implausible scenarios

                  ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

                  ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                  • grantjohndexter says :

                    “The Genesis creation description is plainly written as a literary framework in a poetic-structural narrative.”

                    How does this mean “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says?

                    Your answer to this is: “It can mean six days.”

                    Thus I am justified in rejecting your ideas and sticking with what the text plainly says.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Again, you are asking the wrong question. We don’t interpret Scripture by taking something it can mean and then stretching the text to fit that. We look at all of the possible understandings of a text and then opt for the best understanding all things considered.

                      I agree, there is nothing specifically about the genre that precludes you from stretching the text to make the days be 24 hours in length. The objections to the 24hr interpretation are not because of the genre.

                      What are the objections to the 24hr view? It is self contradictory and forces a bizarre reading out of the text. These objections include
                      (1) chronological contradictions
                      (2) implausible scenarios, and
                      (3) contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions.

                      So, you’re ignoring the argument flow. It goes like this

                      1) The genre of Genesis 1-3 is Poetic-Structural Narrative.

                      2) This genre allows for several understandings of the Hebrew word “yom” including “24 hours from sunrise to sunrise”, “12 daylight hours”, “long unspecified length of time”, “non-temporal logical moment of time used in a literary framework” and several other.

                      3) The 24 hour view, if taken consistently has three lethal problems:
                      (i) chronological contradictions
                      (ii) implausible scenarios, and
                      (iii) contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions.

                      4) Unless the objections in (3) are rebutted, the 24 hour interpretation cannot be correct.

                      If you’re going to engage where the conflict really lies rather than continuing to belabour the irrelevant point about genre, you will need to rebut these three objections and provide a positive case for what you think the correct understanding of Genesis is.


                      The 3 Objections Revisited

                      Contradictions

                      ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

                      ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

                      Implausible scenarios

                      ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

                      ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                    • Grant Dexter says :

                      You are asking the wrong question.

                      Nope. The bible says the world was created in six days. You say it wasn’t. What you need to do is show good reason why it cannot mean what it plainly says. If you cannot or will not, that means we are justified in sticking with what the bible clearly says.

                      We don’t interpret Scripture by taking something it can mean and then stretching the text to fit that. We look at all of the possible understandings of a text and then opt for the best understanding all things considered.

                      That’s good. Given that the bible (and science) denies any possibility of billions of years of evolution, we can rule out the framework hypothesis.

                    • caplawson says :

                      The bible says the world was created in six days. You say it wasn’t. What you need to do is show good reason why it cannot mean what it plainly says.

                      I agree that the Bible says the world was created in six days. Where we disagree is that I think these six days correspond to six non-temporal logical moments employed in a literary framework while you think these six days correspond to six consecutive, finite periods of 24 hours.

                      Have I provided reasons why it cannot mean what it plainly says? No, because I demonstrated that Genesis plainly reads as a poetic-structural narrative wherein there are no indicators that the days are 24 hours in length.

                      Have I provided reasons why these days cannot be 24 hours? Yes, namely chronological contradictions, implausible scenarios, and contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions. I have attached these objections to every comment that I have posted since I introduced them. Yet, you still ignore them and act as if I haven’t given any reasons at all. I even concluded my previous comment with

                      “If you’re going to engage where the conflict really lies you will need to rebut these three objections and provide a positive case for what you think the correct understanding of Genesis is.”

                      The fact that you have yet to respond to these objections is beginning to make me think you don’t have a response and thus, the argument is successful in demonstrating the falsity of the 24 hour understanding. If this is not the case, you will need to demonstrate so by rebutting the objections.

                      That’s good. Given that the bible (and science) denies any possibility of billions of years of evolution, we can rule out the framework hypothesis.

                      There is so much wrong with this statement but I’ll just stick to the most important error: it’s irrelevant. The framework hypothesis does not force a particular age of the universe on the reader. Some of the earliest proponents of the framework view such as Origen (200 AD) affirmed a hyper-young earth. That is, the universe was created as it is instantaneously and the framework in Genesis served as a means of unpacking the logical order of things. Moreover, the Biblical reasons for thinking the earth is young are completely dependent on your understanding of the six days as 24 hours: a position for which you have provided absolutely no defence.

                      In Summary
                      We have seen several reasons for the genre of Genesis being poetic-structural narrative wherein the six days correspond to six non-temporal logical moments employed in a literary framework. The only response to this has been “well, why can’t the days be 24 hours?” to which there have been offered three independent reasons for thinking so (reproduced below). There has been no response to any of these reasons.

                      We have seen a disingenuous hermeneutic employed that involves taking a fringe view of what a passage can mean, twisting the text to make it fit this view, and then ignoring the full scope of the Biblical data. The only response to this has been an irrelevant objection that misunderstands the implications of framework view.


                      The aforementioned objections to the 24 hour view are as follows

                      Contradictions

                      ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

                      ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

                      Implausible scenarios

                      ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

                      ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      I agree that the Bible says the world was created in six days. Where we disagree is that I think these six days correspond to six non-temporal logical moments employed in a literary framework while you think these six days correspond to six consecutive, finite periods of 24 hours.

                      “Non-temporal days” is an oxymoron. The days presented are standard days with evenings and mornings and no indication whatsoever that they are to understood as anything other than days.

                      Words have meaning in context. These ones say “six days,” which can only reasonably mean one thing.

                      Your coopting my use of the term “plain meaning” is just adulterating the plain meaning of “plain meaning.”

                      Words have meaning. As fundamentalists, we stick to the simplest explanation of what is written as a general rule. If you want to convince us we should believe otherwise, you need to show good reason.

                      Insisting that “six days” means what you want it to mean is not convincing.

                      Have I provided reasons why it cannot mean what it plainly says? No, because I demonstrated that Genesis plainly reads as a poetic-structural narrative wherein there are no indicators that the days are 24 hours in length.

                      The plain meaning of the text defeats your assertion.

                      Have I provided reasons why these days cannot be 24 hours? Yes, namely chronological contradictions, implausible scenarios, and contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions. I have attached these objections to every comment that I have posted since I introduced them. Yet, you still ignore them and act as if I haven’t given any reasons at all. I even concluded my previous comment with

                      I have responded to them. The rational response to the text for one who reads it as you do is to reject the bible as a useful source of history. Your argument, otherwise, is simply an argument from consequence.

                      There is so much wrong with this statement but I’ll just stick to the most important error: it’s irrelevant.

                      That the bible rules out everything you believe is “irrelevant”?

                      The framework hypothesis does not force a particular age of the universe on the reader.

                      And so I remain justified in believing what I believe.

                      The Biblical reasons for thinking the earth is young are completely dependent on your understanding of the six days as 24 hours: a position for which you have provided absolutely no defence.

                      Nope. The bible says “six days.” Asserting that the bible says “six days” requires no defense.

                      I need provide no defense because I am not on the defensive. You presented the extraordinary claim that the bible cannot mean “six days.” You are required to defend it. If defend it you will not, onward I will go with what I believe.

                    • caplawson says :

                      I didn’t make the claim that these are “non-temporal days”; rather, I said “these six days correspond to six non-temporal logical moments employed in a literary framework”. This literary employment of days encompasses the morning and evening references as well. I didn’t make that clear earlier, but, it all comes together as a package.

                      I co-opted the term “plain meaning” because you wouldn’t define it. So, I provided what I think is the most accurate definition. If you disagree or think I’m adulterating it, then you will need to provide a robust definition. Otherwise, you appeals to the “plain meaning” will reduce to assertions of your presuppositions. Thus, “the plain meaning of the text defeats your assertion” is semantically equivalent to “my presuppositions of what the text means are contrary to what you think the text means“.

                      You say that as a fundamentalist, you stick to the simplest explanation of what is written as a general rule. There’s an additional qualifier: *unless there are additional reasons to reject the simplest meaning. Example: The simplest understanding of John 15:5 is that Jesus is saying is a plant. However, since there are additional reasons to reject that Jesus thought he was a plant, we reject the simplest meaning in favour of the accurate meaning.

                      Building off of the last section, let’s assume that the simplest meaning of Genesis 1 is six, consecutive, finite periods of 24 hours in length. I don’t think this is the case, but, let’s assume it for the sake of discussion. Are there additional reasons for rejecting this meaning? I contend that there are and I have listed three of them.

                      (1) chronological contradictions
                      (2) implausible scenarios, and
                      (3) contradictions in the providential means of God’s actions.

                      Now, you haven’t responded to them individually but have rejected them categorically as arguments from consequence. First, this claim is false. An argument from consequence would be something like “if people adopt this view, bad things will happen in society” or something like that. However, these arguments make no appeal to the consequences of adopting the 24 hour view. Rather, these arguments claim that there are internal logical contradictions.

                      Second, you propose two options: (1) if these objections are unsuccessful, keep the 24 hour view, (2) if successful, reject the Bible. Now, (1) is valid, however, you’ve smuggled a hidden presupposition into (2), namely “the 24 hour view is the only possible view“. This precludes the possibilty of the third option which I’m arguing for: (3) the 24 hour view is the wrong understanding of the text. In order to keep your dichotomy, you must assume a huge burden of proof demonstrating the 24 hour view is the only possible view of Genesis 1. We can glean two things from this discussion: (i) when you say “the Bible says ‘six days’” you are smuggling in “the Bible says ‘only six, consecutive 24 hour periods of time’” and (ii) “Asserting that the bible says [only six, consecutive 24 hour periods of time] requires no defense” is false.

                      Lastly, I want to revisit this objection you raised a few comments back:

                      “That’s good. Given that the bible (and science) denies any possibility of billions of years of evolution, we can rule out the framework hypothesis.”

                      What you’ve done is smuggle in the premise that the Bible teaches only the 24 hour view. It’s not that the Bible rejects what I believe; it’s that your presuppositions about what the Bible teaches are not the same as mine which is non-controversially true.

                      You can be justified in believing the earth is young, but if my arguments are successful, then you are not justified in believing the 24 hour view. As I phrase it in my Statement of Faith, I think Scripture is not intended to provide an age of the universe. But I do think that the science is in favour of an old Earth. I want to make clear the shift that would occur here: You would change from saying “the Bible teaches a young Earth and the scientific evidence is in favour of a young Earth” to saying “the Bible is inconclusive on the age of the Earth but I think the scientific evidence is in favour of a young Earth“. That’s totally fine! I’m not arguing against scientific reasons for a young Earth. Right now, I’m concerned with rebutting the textual understanding of 24 hours, not the science.

                      “You presented the extraordinary claim that the bible cannot mean “six days.” You are required to defend it”

                      Again, I want to point out the smuggled premise here that “six days” corresponds to “the 24 hour view is true”. Now, I could just assert the reverse if I wanted to: You presented the extraordinary claim that the Bible cannot be a poetic-structural narrative employing a literary framework. You are required to defend it. But, you’ve already conceded that you don’t have a defence for such a claim.

                      Have I defended this position? Extensively. I provided a discussion in the original article, raised three relevant objections against the 24 hour view (I discussed above how they are not arguments from consequence), and I have responded to objections to the framework view.

                      In the end, the plain reading of Genesis is a poetic-structural narrative employing a literary framework to describe the creation act. This account is indeterminate as to the length of time it took or at what point in the past it occurred. For these questions, we must consult the realm of scientific inquiry and empirical evidence.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      The bible teaches six days of creation. If you want to convince a fundamentalist that it doesn’t, you start from a disadvantage: The bible teaches “six days.”

                      This is not smuggling in anything. The bible teaches “six days.” I am not presupposing anything other than “six days” are words with meaning in context. If you want to deny the validity of that assertion, then you have discarded all semblance of rationality.

                      Words have meaning in context. The bible teaches “six days.” Six days means six days.

                      The simplest understanding of John 15:5 is that Jesus is saying is a plant.

                      Gosh. You seriously think this?

                      The plain meaning of John 15:5 is easily understood by reading the words in context. For example, you could read verses nine and 10:
                      “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9, 10 NKJV)

                    • caplawson says :

                      Yes, the simplest understanding of “I am the vine” is “I am the vine” if you isolate it completely by itself without any consideration to the surrounding text. Of course I think the plain meaning of John 15:5 is a metaphor explaining the relationship of Jesus, the Father, and the Church. But, I get that by reading the surrounding verses as you have suggested. I will connect this to the issue in Genesis but first…

                      I am not presupposing anything other than “six days” are words with meaning in context.

                      Yes, you are additionally presupposing that these days are to being employed in a particular way. Let’s run a parallel discussion so you can get a taste of what I mean. Going back to the vine metaphor, it is clear and unambiguous that Jesus meant a regular, plain vine. I can argue as strongly as I want that he was referencing an actual vine; maybe even a cucumber vine to be specific. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he employed it as a metaphor. So, you can argue as strongly as you want that the days referenced are meant to parallel 24 hour periods of time from sunrise to sunrise. That’s fine; it doesn’t devoid them of them being employed as logical moments in a poetic-structural narrative. With this in mind…

                      The plain meaning of John 15:5 is easily understood by reading the words in context. For example, you could read verses nine and 10: [the content of these verses]

                      I would contend the exact same thing for the days in the creation narrative. The plain meaning is easily understood when you consider the entirety of the Biblical data. When we assume Jesus is literally saying he’s a plant, the rest of John 15 makes no sense. Similarly, when we assume the 24 hour view in Genesis 1, the next chapters make no sense [insert the previously raised objections here as evidence].


                      The Objections

                      Contradictions

                      ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

                      ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/WTJ/WTJ58Kline.html

                      Implausible scenarios

                      ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

                      ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      The simplest understanding of “I am the vine” is “I am the vine..”

                      Nope. It is perfectly clear what the meaning is. Words have meaning in context. However, “six days” means what it plainly says even without context.

                      I think the plain meaning of John 15:5 is a metaphor explaining the relationship of Jesus, the Father, and the Church.

                      Then why did you say the plain meaning was the nonsense you spouted earlier?

                      Yes, you are additionally presupposing that these days are to being employed in a particular way.

                      That is just a reworking of what I said. Words have meaning in context. “Six days” means what it plainly says. in or out of context.

                      I would contend the exact same thing for the days in the creation narrative. The plain meaning is easily understood when you consider the entirety of the Biblical data. When we assume Jesus is literally saying he’s a plant, the rest of John 15 makes no sense. Similarly, when we assume the 24 hour view in Genesis 1, the next chapters make no sense.

                      Sure they do.

                      They have a different author and are written from a vastly different viewpoint, but they describe the same period of history.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Grant, did you read the entirety of my comment? I said

                      “Yes, the simplest understanding of “I am the vine” is “I am the vine” if you isolate it completely by itself without any consideration to the surrounding text”.

                      I even bolded the second half so you wouldn’t miss it! Please re-read my comment and respond to what I actually say and not these cut and paste snippets that remove my clarifications. Also, let me know if you feel I’ve cut out a key clarification when I quote you so I can correct myself.

                      I said that was the “simplest” meaning, not the “plain meaning”. You have never defined any of your terms so I went with what I thought you meant. If my assessment is incorrect, please provide me with definitions so I can correct myself.

                      They have a different author and are written from a vastly different viewpoint, but they describe the same period of history.

                      Please continue this line of thought.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      I said that was the “simplest” meaning, not the “plain meaning.”

                      The simplest meaning and the plain meaning are the same thing when you read the words in context. That is what you have to do: read the words in context.

                      However, with “six days” the meaning is clear even without context.

                    • caplawson says :

                      I’m sorry about the definitional misunderstanding between “simplest” and “plain” meaning.

                      So, my contention is that the context of Genesis 1 & 2 is what forces the 24 hour view to be false because of the contradictions, etc. Your responses to these objections have been

                      1) a categorical rejection of them as “arguments from consequence” and

                      2) appealing to different authors to explain away the difficulties.

                      I refuted (1) by demonstrating these objections elicit logical contradictions, not unpleasant consequences.

                      Would you go into detail on (2)? It sounds like you’re about to make an appeal to JEDP or otherwise deny the Mosaic authorship of Genesis which is something I’ve never seen from a fundamentalist.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      a categorical rejection of them as “arguments from consequence” and

                      That’s right. When you find something that is plainly taught in the bible that you think is impossible for whatever reason, the rational response is to reject that part as being historically accurate. Inventing meanings to eradicate concepts you do not like is irrational. Refusing to then provide your alternative meanings on request is denial.

                      The bible clearly teaches “six days.”

                      Tell us good reason why it cannot mean what it plainly says. If you are silly enough to misunderstand Jesus’ teaching in John 15, I can show you how the context and other passages show what His meaning obviously was.

                      If you are silly enough to believe “six days” does not mean what it plainly says, show us — from scripture — why it cannot mean what it plainly says.

                      appealing to different authors to explain away the difficulties… It sounds like you’re about to make an appeal to JEDP or otherwise deny the Mosaic authorship of Genesis which is something I’ve never seen from a fundamentalist.

                      You haven’t seen any of that from this one either.

                      There are no dramatic difficulties in believing that “six days” means what it plainly says.

                      There are many glaring and obvious difficulties in rejecting the plain teaching of the bible.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Grant, you need to read my entire comment. I said I refuted your claim that my arguments were from consequence by demonstrating these objections elicit logical contradictions, not unpleasant consequences. I guess you could say that I “don’t like” that the 24 hour understanding is fundamentally incoherent. We’ve been gone around this circle over and over, Grant.

                      I didn’t “invent meaning”; the interpretation that I endorse has been supported as far back as Origen and Augustine. Additionally, I did not refuse to provide my “alternative meanings on request”. The whole original article is dedicated to explaining the framework interpretation, Grant!

                      I’m not misunderstanding Jesus’s teaching in John 15; I am saying that if you consistently apply your hermeneutic of going with the “simplest meaning”, you will end up with absurdities like Jesus claiming he is a plant. Now before you quote-mine me here, you have since defined that by “simplest meaning” you actually mean “the meaning of a text as derived from the full range of Scriptural data including relevant context”.

                      That being said, I have shown, from Scripture, how the context and other passages show that the 24 hour view is internally incoherent and, subsequently how the six days cannot be 24 hours in length. These include self contradiction in the chronologies and the notion of God’s providence as well as absurd situations including light, plant life and days themselves existing before the creation of the Sun which provides light for the planet, drives photosynthesis, and demarcate 24 hour days themselves! Direct self-contradiction is as dramatic a difficulty if there ever was one.

                      Now, please expound on your counter-argument concerning authorship of Genesis. If Moses didn’t write both Genesis 1 & 2 then who did? If Moses did write both, then why did you say there were different authors for the respective chapters?

                      Before you reply, please re-read this entire comment and make sure you understand what I am saying.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      I have shown, from Scripture, how the context and other passages show that the 24 hour view is internally incoherent and, subsequently how the six days cannot be 24 hours in length.

                      So it is not possible that “six days” means what it plainly says now?

                      Before you said it was possible.

                      Which is it?

                    • caplawson says :

                      I said it was possible with respect to the poetic-structural narrative genre. There’s nothing exclusively about the genre that precludes the 24 hour view. It’s in the surrounding passages where the incoherence bears itself out.

                      24 hour view possible within the genre? Yes.
                      24 hour view possible overall? No.
                      Why? Self contradictions (chronology and divine providence) and implausible scenarios (Day 6 and plants/light/days before the Sun).

  10. asphaleia says :

    A few brief comments on your post. “Literal” is not the point, not an inherent virtue of an interpreter, and not synonymous with believing. However, I think you’ll agree that taking any text in a figurative sense that was intended literally would be an incorrect interpretation. And vice versa of course. Anyway “literal” is such a sticky term, I avoid it as far as I can, generally. The above being said, I do suspect some people essentially CHOOSE to take a text like Gen. 1 non-literally because what the literal sense would say they are not prepared to believe.

    To the extent that this is true, many, many people are doing SOMETHING with the Gen 1 text, but that something is NOT exegesis.

    Having studied it for some time, my position is that FAR AND AWAY the reading best supported by textual, contextual, cultural, linguistic etc EVIDENCE is that the author INTENDED us to understand it as an account that occurs over a six-day span, with a seventh day in chapter 2. While this is not the ONLY way those words can be understood, I have yet to see another treatment that even comes close to dislodging this relatively straightforward reading.

    When I say day, I mean a day in a fairly primary sense. And I think that Hebrew yom generally references the illuminated phase in a light-dark cycle (what we call daytime-nighttime). I don’t say 6/24 because “days” in this sense are not 24 hours, but the daytime portion of that. And there is no warrant for positing an extended sense for yom that would include an “age.” Just isn’t part of the semantic structure of the word.

    That being said, the whole thing COULD be a metaphor. Only it ISN’T. At least there is NO evidence I can see that it is, was intended to be, or was understood as such (see Ex 20:11). The best one could do, I think, is what you do, speak of it in terms of poetry. Poetic genre is figure-heavy and may predispose us to take the whole in a generally figurative way.

    However, Gen 1 is ABSOLUTELY NOT poetic. It has NO poetic structure to it at all. In fact, as a literary genre it is about as far from poetry as it can be. It has NO characteristic of Hebrew poetics, NO parallelism, no metre, no poetic vocabulary, no avoidance of articles and object markers and such. It is altogether a different kind of text from poetic.

    You make an excellent point about Judges 4 vs. 5. The equivalent for creation is Gen 1 vs. Ps 104. You want to see what a POETIC account of creation looks like, look at the latter.

    There is structure, yes, in Gen 1, and correspondence, and repetition, but these are ALL indicative of a different genre. I’ll have more to say about what this is later.

    My two cents for now.

  11. grantjohndexter says :

    24 hour view possible overall? No.
    Why? Self contradictions (chronology and divine providence) and implausible scenarios (Day 6 and plants/light/days before the Sun).

    Then the rational response for you should be to reject Genesis as an accurate account of history.

    • caplawson says :

      That’s not quite a justified conclusion. The more modest conclusion is that I should reject it as a chronologically accurate and consistent account of historical events. I think it’s an accurate account of history in a similar sense that I think Judges 5 is an accurate account of history.

  12. grantjohndexter says :

    That’s not quite a justified conclusion.

    Of course it is. The bible unequivocally teaches that creation took six days. Denying this as fact requires you to reject Genesis as an accurate account of history. Claiming it means something else is just plain loopy.

    For example, you reject “six days” because there is a poetic account of history in Judges.

    That is not very compelling.

    Got anything better?

    • caplawson says :

      Grant, that is a blatant misrepresentation of my comment. I said the more modest, correct conclusion is that if my counter-arguments are successful, I should reject Genesis 1 as a chronologically accurate and chronologically consistent account of historical events.

      I reject your 24 hour view on the basis of self contradictions and implausible scenarios; that has nothing to do with Judges. Pretending that I didn’t present these chronological and providential self-contradictions nor the implausible scenarios of Day 6 does not make them go away. You can either respond to them or allow them to successfully rebut the 24 hour view.

      I made an analogy to Judges 5 in that a passage can be poetic-structural narrative and still describe actual history.

      Please respond to my questions about authorship. Did Moses write both Genesis 1&2? If not, who did? If so, why did you say there was another author?

      Grant, please read my entire comment several times before you reply so you don’t keep missing the point. Please respond to my questions about authorship.

      • grantjohndexter says :

        I made an analogy to Judges 5 in that a passage can be poetic-structural narrative and still describe actual history.

        Then I remain justified in likewise retaining Genesis as an account of history, and you have just undermined your argument for why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

        • caplawson says :

          Grant, you are completely misunderstanding me.

          First, you created a false dichotomy. It’s not “accept a 24 hour view of Genesis 1 or reject it outright”, that’s an unwarranted move. What is warranted is rejecting Genesis 1 as chronologically accurate and chronologically consistent. I do reject these and take Genesis to be a non-chronological, poetic-structural description of events. I provided an example of this in Judges 5. I think Genesis 1 describes actual events in history but I do not think they occurred in 144 hours in the order listed. Similarly, but not identically, I think Judges 5 describes an actual event in history but I do not think there was some kind of cosmic battle wherein “From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera”. Wait, wait, keep reading. Don’t stop here.

          Second, no, you are not justified in taking the 24 hour view unless you provide a defeater/counter-argument for the chronological contradictions, providential contradictions, and implausible scenarios regarding the Sun and events of Day 6. You have ignored them this whole time and picked up on minor issues like my analogy in the previous comment. I’m beginning to think you don’t have any responses and are trying to avoid the fact that the 24 hour view isn’t coherent. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see any evidence to the contrary. Wait, wait, keep reading.

          Third, you have ignored my question about authorship. Grant, you can’t just flippantly say Genesis 1 & 2 were written by different authors and then not expect to have you explain yourself. Please tell me what you’re talking about. Did Moses write both Genesis 1&2? If not, who did? If so, why did you say there was another author?

          Grant, please re-read my entire comment, please respond to my objections to the 24 hour view, and please answer my authorship questions.

          • grantjohndexter says :

            It’s not “accept a 24 hour view of Genesis 1 or reject it outright.”

            That’s right. It is: Show us good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says. So far, you have suggested that a passage in Judges demonstrates this.

            Sorry. Not convincing at all.

            • caplawson says :

              Grant, that’s not what I said and you know it. Re-read my comment and you will see my reasons for rejecting the 24 hour view. They are chronological self-contradictions, providential self-contradictions, and implausible scenarios involving light, plants, and days before the Sun and the events of Day 6. Why do you keep ignoring these simple reasons?

              Second, you have continued to ignore my simple questions concerning your comments on the authorship of Genesis. Grant, who wrote Genesis 1 & 2? Moses (via divine inspiration)? Moses plus someone else? Why did you say there was another author?

              • grantjohndexter says :

                Why do you keep ignoring these simple reasons?

                Well for one, they are nonsense, but the response you keep ignoring is that your response to your idea is irrational.

                When you find that the bible is contradictory, the rational response is to reject it as an accurate historical account.

                • caplawson says :

                  If they’re nonsense, please demonstrate. My objections show that the 24 hour view elicits logical contradictions. Is that nonsense?

                  Second, rejecting Genesis wholesale as historical is not a warranted conclusion. FOR EXAMPLE, I do think Genesis 1 is an account of actual historical events in a SIMILAR way that I think Judges 5 is an account of actual historical event. My rejection of Judges 5 as a precise historical narrative does not negate the historicity of the battle it describes (keep reading). My rejection of Genesis 1 as a precise historical narrative does not negate the historicity of the creation it describes (see the parallel?). This is very simple: I’m not make an argument from Judges 5; I’m using it to provide a counter-example in demonstrating your dichotomy is false. I’m sure this was just an honest misunderstanding on your part.

                  Moreover, assuming your dichotomy is accurate ((which it isn’t)) then why haven’t you accepted my counter-arguments and rejected Genesis as historical ((don’t snatch this second half of this question; copy all of it if you quote it))? What are your responses?

                  Third, are you ever going to get back to that authorship comment?

                  In summary, you have asserted with no supporting evidence that my objections are nonsense and subsequently have refused to engage with them. You have asserted there was a different author in Genesis but have never explained yourself despite my repeated requests. Lastly, you refuse to accurately portray my position concerning the Judges 5 parallel.

            • caplawson says :

              In case you forgot, here are those reasons spelled out
              Contradiction

              ●Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman. (There is also no mention of fish in chapter two which odd but mostly irrelevant here).

              ●Genesis 1&2 have different notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 and 2:5. For a brilliant discussion of this, I refer you to Dr. Meredith Kline’s work here.

              Implausible scenarios

              ●Genesis 1 has light and plants existing prior to the creation of the sun.

              ●Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours

              • grantjohndexter says :

                My objections show that the 24 hour view elicits logical contradictions. Is that nonsense?

                There are no contradictions. Your response to seeing contradictions is to invent a meaning not found in the text and assert it as a replacement.

                This is the nonsense.

                I do think Genesis 1 is an account of actual historical events in a SIMILAR way that I think Judges 5 is an account of actual historical event.

                You keep repeating this as if it is a convincing reason for something. It’s not, it is just an idea of yours.

                We know your idea. Show us good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says. Until you do, we are justified in rejecting your idea and sticking with what the bible says.

                • caplawson says :

                  “There are no contradictions”
                  Contradiction: Genesis 1 says animals were created before man. Genesis 2 says animals were created after man.

                  Contradiction: God’s providence is direct in Genesis 1 and indirect in Genesis 2 (i.e. creating plants via fiat and creating plants via permitting secondary causes)

                  Physical implausibility: plants, light, and solar days existed before the Sun was created even all three are dependent upon the Sun’s activity for their continues existence

                  Physical implausibility: within the space of 12 hours, a man comes into existence, names every animal indigenous to the Middle East, gets lonely, undergoes major surgery, recovers from that surgery, and meets a new person.

                  I didn’t invent this meaning; it has a long history in Christian tradition including supporters such as Origen and St. Augustine in the AD 300s. Moreover, I provided exegetical justification in the original article. Perhaps you don’t want to accept it; that’s fine, but you still have to defend the logical coherency of the 24 hour view. So far, all you have done is pretend my objections don’t exist and asserted the 24 hour view is the only view.

                  I keep repeating myself because you keep misrepresenting me. Your dichotomy would force you to reject Judges 5 as history.

                  Why can’t the 24 hour view be true? Because it’s self contradictory. If you don’t agree, demonstrate how my alleged contradictions are not contradictions. I’ll make a list of the responses you need to make.

                  1) How is it not a contradiction when Genesis 1 says animals preceded man and Genesis 2 says man preceded animals?

                  2) How is it not a contradiction when Genesis 1 says God created plants by divine fiat and Genesis 2 says God created plants by natural secondary means?

                  3) How can plants, light, and days exist without the Sun?

                  4) How can one man to come into existence, name all the animals indigenous to the Middle East including dinosaurs, get lonely, undergo major surgery, recover from that surgery, and meet a new person in the space of 12 hours?

                  5) Who wrote Genesis 1? Who wrote Genesis 2? What do you mean when you said there were different authors?

                  6) Do you reject Judges 5 as history?

                  Please take the time to honestly understand and evaluate my responses; if you have a question about what I mean then please ask before erecting a straw man. Please provide straightforward answers to the 6 simple questions I asked.

                  • grantjohndexter says :

                    I didn’t invent this meaning

                    You introduced it. Telling us who you think invented it doesn’t make it more accurate.

                    Why can’t the 24 hour view be true?

                    Why are you answering this question?

                    I want you to tell us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says. We need to be able to agree on what words mean before we can discuss the ideas behind them.

                    For me, “six days” means what it plainly says. Please show us why it can not mean what it plainly says. Do that rationally and then we can discuss the truth of the words.

                    you … have to defend the logical coherency of the 24 hour view.

                    No, I don’t. I have not made the extraordinary claim. I have made the simple and irrefutable claim that the bible plainly says: “six days.” You reject the plain teaching of the bible. It is incumbent upon you to show good reason why the bible cannot mean what it plainly says. However, you do not do this. You give us an argument from consequence saying that the acceptance of the plain meaning creates contradictions.

                    This is not a rational argument. If the bible teaches contradictions, then the rational response is to reject it as an account of history. A rational response is not to invent a meaning that somehow makes words mean something completely different.

                    The burden of proof is upon you. Show us good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

                    Please provide straightforward answers to the 6 simple questions I asked.

                    Answer the one from me first. Rationally.

                    Why can “six days” not mean what it plainly says?

                    • caplawson says :

                      I’m telling you about Origen and Augustine so you know the framework view is just as historically supported as the 24 hour view. It’s not some new invention I cooked up in the past few months.

                      The reason I’m answering this question is because it’s what you are really asking. We can’t agree on what “plain meaning” is supposed to mean. You think it’s the 24 hour view. So, when you say “plainly says ‘six days'” you saying the logical equivalence of “24 hour view”. You know this, Grant; stop being pedantic.

                      I have made a critical attack on your view. You must defend it or accept that your position is false.

                      Those are not arguments from consequence, Grant. They are arguments that show your view is internally contradictory and cannot be true. What you propose is a rational response is unwarranted.

                      Why can “six days” not mean what you think it plainly means? Because such a view is self-contradictory. Either the text itself is entirely false or merely the interpretation is false. I have independent reasons to affirm Biblical inerrancy and I think the plain understanding of Genesis 1 is as a poetic-structural narrative. Therefore, I have a defeater for thinking the text is false and rationally accept that the 24hour view is merely a mistaken interpretation. Now, I understand that you don’t have the same defeaters I have because you feel the poetic-structural narrative is impossible.

                      Please answer my 6 simple questions.

  13. grantjohndexter says :

    The reason I’m answering this question is because it’s what you are really asking.

    Well that’s just plain arrogant.

    I am a fundamentalist. We place great importance upon what words mean in context and tend to stick firmly to what is plainly said. If you want to convince us that something does not mean what it plainly says, you have to give good reason. Once you have done that, we can discuss the truth of the matter.

    So, please. Quit trying to answer what you think I am asking and answer what I actually ask.

    It is perfectly simple: You think “six days” does not mean what it plainly says. Give us good reason.

    We can’t agree on what “plain meaning” is supposed to mean.

    If someone said to you they were going on holiday for six months and would be back in February, would you similarly be having this much trouble understanding plain English?

    You think it’s the 24 hour view. So, when you say “plainly says ‘six days’” you saying the logical equivalence of “24 hour view”. You know this, Grant; stop being pedantic.

    I have no idea what you are trying to say.

    I have made a critical attack on your view. You must defend it or accept that your position is false.

    Nope. You have done everything in your power to avoid a rational response to a single, simple question. Tell us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

    Those are not arguments from consequence, Grant. They are arguments that show your view is internally contradictory and cannot be true. What you propose is a rational response is unwarranted.

    Sure, they are. You have claimed that “six days” cannot mean what it says because that would result in contradictions. That is, plain and simple, an argument from consequence.

    The rational position to take, if you believe there to be contradictions, is to reject Genesis as an accurate account of history. Making things up to pretend you do not have to believe “six days” means what it plainly says is not a rational response.

    Why can “six days” not mean what you think it plainly means? Because such a view is self-contradictory.

    This is an argument from consequence.

    If you believe the bible to be self-contradictory, you should reject it as an accurate source of history. However, it would still mean what it says when it says “six days.”

    Please answer my 6 simple questions.

    Please answer my one question rationally.

    • caplawson says :

      Grant, I’m not being arrogant. When you say “why can ‘six days’ not mean what it plainly says?” it is logically identical in content to “why can’t the 24 hour view be true?” There is no significant difference between the two statements. You do think the Scripture plainly teaches the 24 hour view don’t you?

      Grant, here is an argument from consequence: “Evolution makes people do bad things. We don’t want people to do bad things. Therefore, evolution is false”. This type of argumentation is fallacious. Proving that a position elicits logical contradictions is a legitimate move in defeating that position. This is basic logic, Grant. Look up “indirect proofs” if you don’t believe me.

      For the last time, Grant, I did not “make up” anything. This is an interpretation of Genesis 1 that is faithful to the text and has been supported for roughly 1,800 years by theological powerhouses such as St. Augustine. This alone doesn’t make it true but I do think it is a stronger interpretation. I described and justified as much in my original post. Okay? I didn’t just cook this up at random, so please stop saying I invented it.

      Grant, here is why I think the 24 hour view is false. Read it very carefully so you don’t miss my line of reasoning:

      Step 1: The 24 hour view (what you think Genesis 1 plainly says) elicits 3 logical contradictions.

      Step 2: there are two responses. Either I reject the entire passage outright or I reject the 24 hour view as a bad interpretation.

      Step 3: I have independent reasons for accepting the inerrancy of Scripture. (You probably agree with this). I also have independent intuitions to think the plain reading of Genesis 1 is a poetic-structural, polemic focused narrative. It simply seems to me to be the more natural and plain reading of the text. (I know you don’t agree with this). These two lines do not permit me to reject Genesis 1 outright.

      Step 4: Therefore, I must merely reject the 24 hour view as a bad understanding of the text.

      I think I have completely and exhaustively answered your question. Do you understand or do you have any specific clarifications you need from me? If you understand my position, would you kindly answer the six very simple questions I’ve asked you?

      • grantjohndexter says :

        When you say “why can ‘six days’ not mean what it plainly says?” it is logically identical in content to “why can’t the 24 hour view be true?” There is no significant difference between the two statements. You do think the Scripture plainly teaches the 24 hour view don’t you?

        Nope. What a statement means and whether it is true or not are utterly distinct aspects of it. That you would say otherwise is evidence you have not seriously considered what I have said.

        Leave aside the truth of the matter, just answer the question.

        “Six days” plainly means what it plainly says. If I tell you I am going on holiday for six days, there is zero chance that you might misunderstand what I mean. Possibly, you might think I am lying or mistaken, but there is no chance that you misunderstand my meaning,

        The bible teaches six days of creation. You think there was not six days of creation. It is incumbent upon you to show good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

        And you cannot use an appeal to consequence. You may not say: “It cannot mean six days because that would create a contradiction.”

        Similarly, you cannot point to a passage that is unrelated to the creation account and use its phrasing to show that “six days” does not mean what it plainly says.

        We prefer a rational discussion.

        • caplawson says :

          Grant, let’s pause the discussion for a minute to make sure we’re on the same page because it seems we’re just talking past each other. Here’s how I understand the conversation to have gone so far. Please read the entire comment and make sure that I’m understanding everything so far.

          Grant: Why can’t Genesis 1 mean what it plainly says?

          CapLawson: What do you mean by “what Genesis 1 plainly says”? It seems to me to plainly say God sovereignly and orderly created the universe and everything therein (even the things that the heathens worship as gods) as described in a poetic-structural narrative.

          Grant: I think Genesis 1 plainly says that God sovereignly and orderly created the universe and everything therein in the time frame of 144 hours across six 24 hour periods of time.

          CapLawson: That doesn’t seem to be the plain reading to me for the reasons I listed above in the original article.

          Grant: Your view doesn’t seem to be the plain reading to me, either. It sounds like something you made up because you don’t like the plain meaning of Genesis 1 [i.e. you don’t like the 24 hour view].

          CapLawson: I didn’t make up this understanding of Genesis 1. Rather it has a long history of advocates going as far back as St. Augustine. This doesn’t make it true, but, it does mean what I take as the plain reading [i.e. the framework view] isn’t some recent invention.

          Grant: Why can’t Genesis 1 mean that God sovereignly and orderly created the universe and everything therein in the time frame of 144 hours across six 24 hour periods of time?

          CapLawson: First, I’d like to point out that we agree on the first half of that description. The reason that I don’t think Genesis 1 can teach that God created everything in 144 hours across six, 24 hour periods of time is because there are logical contradictions in that view. For example, the chronologies of Genesis 1&2 are logically contradictory. They posit that the animals preceded humanity and humanity preceded animals. Genesis 1 posits purely fiat providence while Genesis 2 posits permissive providence via secondary means. Genesis 1 posits plants, light, and solar days preexisted the Sun which is necessary for all three of those. The events of Day 6 are so numerous that it is physically impossible for them to have occurred in 12 hours.

          Grant: Those are just arguments from consequences (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/adconseq.html).

          CapLawson: Incorrect, they are proofs by contradiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_contradiction). I made no appeals to the consequences of believing the 24 hour view over the plain meaning [i.e. the framework view].

          Grant: The appropriate response to those contradictions is to reject Genesis 1 as historical.

          CapLawson: That’s unwarranted. There are other passages of Scriptures that have implausible scenarios but I still accept them as historical. Why can’t I do the same with Genesis 1?

          Grant: —

          CapLawson: What responses do you have for the logical contradictions I claim are in the 24 hour view?

          Grant: Those are just arguments from consequences (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/adconseq.html). Besides, they have a different author and are written from a vastly different viewpoint, but they describe the same period of history.

          CapLawson: No, they are proofs by contradiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_contradiction). What do you mean by they have a different author?

          Having read this entire comment, is this an accurate summary of our conversation so far, Grant?

          • grantjohndexter says :

            I couldn’t understand your first response, so I skipped the rest. The bible says “six days.” It is plain and clear. You reject that the bible means what it says. It is incumbent upon you to convince us that what the bible plainly says it cannot mean. Your explanation has to be very, very compelling.

            So far you have got a passage in Judges and an appeal to consequence. These are completely unconvincing arguments.

            • caplawson says :

              Grant, I genuinely want us to stop talking past each other so this conversation can go forward. If that is to happen, we need to be on the same page. What part of my position do you not understand? I’ll provide clarification.

              • grantjohndexter says :

                You need to respond to the question rationally. The bible says “six days.” Show us good reason that six days cannot mean what it plainly says. Phrase your reason something like this: Facts A and B show that when Exodus and Deuteronomy say “six days,” and when Genesis expound on those days, the meaning cannot be that creation took a week, including a day of rest.

                • caplawson says :

                  Grant, I have responded rationally to your question but you don’t understand my answer. Which part don’t you understand? I will gladly clarify. If it will make things more clear, I will package my answer in the format you described.

                  • grantjohndexter says :

                    I have responded rationally to your question.

                    Nope.

                    You have not given any good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

                    You accuse me of not understanding you, but you cannot see a difference between the concepts of a phrase’s meaning and its truth.

                    That there is a passage of poetic form in Judges is not convincing reason to believe that “six days” does not mean what it plainly says.

                    You need to show good reason.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Grant, I have answered your questions to which you replied

                      “I couldn’t understand your first response, so I skipped the rest.”

                      So, what don’t you understand?

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      What don’t you understand?

                      You could read my comment and see exactly what I said I did not understand.

                      The bible says “six days.” You think it does not mean what it plainly says. Show us good reason that it cannot mean what it plainly says. Until you answer this question in a manner that shows you could have a case, you do not have a case.

                      And no amount of words can change the fact that your presentation is empty.

                    • caplawson says :

                      So, you don’t understand why I don’t think the plain meaning is the same as the 24 hour view?

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      So, you don’t understand why I don’t think the plain meaning is the same as the 24 hour view?

                      You need to be able to convince us that what we believe cannot be true.

                      Tell us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Just to clarify, are you asking why the 24 hour view can’t be actually true or are you asking why the 24 hour view is not the meaning of Genesis 1?

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      You could reread my question and discover that pretty easily.

                    • caplawson says :

                      I’ll take that as “both”.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      Then you are clearly incapable of simple comprehension.

                    • caplawson says :

                      Well, that’s not very nice. I’m asking because you said

                      convince us that what we believe cannot be true

                      as well as

                      tell us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says“.

                      You’ve made distinctions between the two such as

                      What a statement means and whether it is true (or not) are utterly distinct aspects of it“.

                      I just wanted to clarify.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      Show us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

                    • caplawson says :

                      I think that this question is flawed but I will respond as best as I can to the best of my understanding.

                      The first flaw is this notion of “can’t”. When people say why “can’t” a passage mean something, it seems to portray that they are not sincere in finding out what the text really means. This terminology communicates “I have decided what this passage means and unless you show that it is absolutely impossible, then I’m going to stick to it no matter what”. An example would be the debate over the Eucharist. When Jesus said “this is my body, take and eat”, did he mean it was actually, literally, essentially his body? Some Christians would say so, some would say it’s just a metaphor, and others still would say it’s more complicated than either. Nevertheless, suppose a supporter of transubstantiation asked a supporter of memorialism “well, why can’t it mean it is literally Jesus’s body? Until you show me ‘this is my body’ can’t mean ‘this is my body’, then I’ll keep on believing what I always have”. But, it’s pretty clear that this is not the method to find out what Jesus’s words mean. The Church is split on this issue because Jesus’s words are ambiguous and there are several legitimate ways to understand what he said. However, that’s not to say that we have free reign and can just arbitrarily decide what we want this text to mean as some understandings are better than others. We still have to make our case using context, experience, historical setting, etc. This type of discussion about the Eucharist is paralleled in the discussion about the Creation. I don’t think that the view I’m defending can be demonstrated to be absolutely impossible. By this standard, it would be legitimate for me to say “I find the claim of 24 hours extraordinary. Until someone shows me why Genesis can’t be a framework I’ll be justified in continuing what I’ve always believed”. So, in order to show that one truly cares about what a text actually says instead of asking for a rebutting defeater to some possible meaning, one should ask “what is the best meaning”. Unless the interpretation is positively absurd, it is virtually impossible to show that ANY passage “can’t” mean something. Thus, the more honest version of this question is:

                      “Why is the plain meaning not the best meaning of Genesis 1?”

                      This leads to the second flaw in the question, namely, the use of “plain meaning”. This is more or less an appeal to intuition. The plain meaning of anything is fueled by background information, presuppositions, experiences and many other things. Allow me to give a non-Scriptural example: if Jan were to say “Sam is a man who wears a belt and braces”, what is the plain meaning of that? Pause for a moment and think about it. I don’t know what your background is, but, when I read it, the plain meaning is that Sam is a man who wears a belt and has braces on his teeth. Jan plainly said that Sam wears a belt and Sam wears braces. But, if I meet Sam, it may be the case that he has neither. The reason being that “wearing belt and braces” is a British idiom that means a person is cautious. Now, since I don’t have the same background information and presuppositions as Jan, the plain meaning is totally different. If I were then to say to Jan “Hey! Sam doesn’t have braces!” she would say “Of course not; I plainly said that he’s a cautious guy”. So, the “plain meaning” of any text varies from person to person dependent on their presuppositions.

                      Now, how does this apply to our discussion of Genesis 1? When you say “the plain meaning of Genesis 1” and when I say “the plain meaning of Genesis 1”, we are not talking about the same meaning any more than when Jan says “the plain meaning of belts and braces” and when I say “the plain meaning of belts and braces”. That is because we have different presuppositions, background information, intuitions, and experiences. Thus, the reason we keep talking past each other is because we aren’t looking at the text through the same eyes. But, how does one defend what a “plain meaning” is? It can’t really be done because it’s an appeal to intuition. It’s like asking “why can’t a prime number be the Prime Minister?”; we know it’s impossible but we can’t prove why. We just know it intuitively. Such is the same with the “plain meaning”. It’s very hard to define what makes something the “plain meaning”.

                      Now, when I look at Genesis 1, I’m fueled by several presuppositions. The first being the genre of the passage being poetic-structural narrative. The second being the historical context in which the passage was written, namely, to the Hebrew people after they escaped from Egypt and roughly contemporaneous with the construction of the temple. There are several other presuppositions but everything culminates into one main conclusion: this passage is theologically multi-purposed. It serves as a polemic against the pagan gods, it serves to show the order and design in creation, it serves to parallel the temple, it serves to remind the Hebrew people to think of creation as the dwelling place of God in the same way the temple is the dwelling place of God, it serves to show the sovereignty of God over creation, it serves to teach that God is not distant from His creation (a la Islam) but is highly involved and purposed in His actions. Genesis serves several purposes but one purpose that I can’t see it serving is as a proto-scientific, chronologically accurate, and internally consistent account of origins. It simply seems to me that God and the Hebrew people were not concerned with detailing those matters in Genesis 1. I know that you don’t share my presuppositions which is why we will always have a stalemate over what the “plain meaning” of Genesis 1 is. That’s why I proposed that we adopt the terminology of “the 24 hour view” and “the framework view” for the sake of clarity. The complete version of this question is now:

                      “Why is the 24 hour view not the better understanding of Genesis 1?”

                      There are two questions lurking in the background. First, “Is the 24 hour view true or false?” and second, “Does the text of Genesis 1 actually teach the 24 hour view?”

                      My first argument goes like this: it is impossible to be an inerrantist Christian and hold to the 24 hour view.

                      The problem that I made the first time around is that I merely presupposed you were an inerrantist and that the 24 hour view itself came from a position of inerrancy, so, I did not spell out my hidden premise. From here, I unpack the contradictions found in the 24 hour view which are

                      (1) Genesis 1 & 2 contradict their respective chronologies: one says plants, animals, then man and woman while two says man, plants, animals, then woman.
                      (2) Genesis 1&2 have contradictory notions of divine providence which can be seen with 1:9-13 (divine fiat) and 2:5 (permission of secondary, natural means).
                      (3) Genesis 1 has light, plants, and solar days existing prior to the creation of the sun; but it is the Sun that provides light for the planet, drives photosynthesis to keep plants alive, and demarcates night and day for each rotation of the Earth.
                      (4) Genesis 2 has one person being created, naming every animal indigenous to the Middle East (and dinosaurs, too?), getting lonely, undergoing major surgery, recovering from that surgery, and meeting a new person within the space of 12 hours.

                      The conclusion to be drawn here is that the 24 hour view of Genesis 1 cannot be true. You were right in that Genesis 1 could mean the 24 hour view and still be false. I missed that the first time. So, to clarify, the 24 hour view is fraught with errors and therefore, the Christian who holds to the 24 hour view cannot be an inerrantist.

                      To summarize:
                      Is the 24 hour view the actual meaning of Genesis 1? Possibly.
                      Is the 24 hour view true? No.

                      So, the upshot here is that irrespective of whether Genesis 1 teaches the 24 hour view or not, unless the logical contradictions can be reconciled it can’t be true.

                      What are the implications?

                      First, if one holds that the 24 hour view is the actual teaching of Genesis 1, then they must admit the Bible is not inerrant.

                      Second, (in the reverse case) if a person is fully convinced of the inerrancy of Scripture, then, she must reject that the 24 hour view is the correct understanding of Genesis 1.

                      Third, since the 24 hour view is the main warrant for “young-Earth creationism”, in the absence of scientific evidence in favor of a young Earth, there is no warrant to think that the Earth is 6,000-50,000 years old.

                      My second argument goes like this: it is reasonable to think the 24 hour view is not the intended meaning of Genesis 1.

                      The 24 hour view is dependent on the fact that the Genesis 1 account is an historical narrative, however, there are reasons to think that Genesis 1 is not straightforward historical narrative. First, it is in the strophic form. A-B-C corresponds to Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 which are the “forming days” i.e. God is creating the realms for the future inhabitants. The second A-B-C series corresponds to Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 where these are the days of “filling” i.e. each realm is filled with its respective inhabitants. D corresponds to Day 7, the Sabbath which is wholly different from the rest of the creation week and operates as a termination point. Second, there are markers of poetic-structural or semi-poetic language present including repetition of traditionally symbolic numbers, word plays, parallelism on the sentence level, rhyme and meter, imagery, and similes/metaphors. In addition, the phrases “beasts of the field”, “greater light”, and “lesser light” are used to denote animals, the Sun, and the Moon in Biblical passages that are primarily poetic. Third, it doesn’t seem to be written like the rest of Genesis. These devices that I have listed above are not used in the passages of Genesis that we agree are historical narrative. Thus the genre precondition for the 24 hour view is not met. This doesn’t preclude the 24 hour view but it does say that the 24 hour view is less probable given that one of its antecedents is not met.

                      The 24 hour view does not seem to mesh well with the use of Genesis 1 in later passages nor the historical context. The 24 hour view posits that Genesis 1 is a proto-scientific account of the origins of the universe, but, the rest of Scripture doesn’t seem to reference it in this way. Moreover, such a text does not seem to be relevant to the immediate historical setting. Genesis was composed around the time that temple worship was being instructed by God to the Hebrew people. It seems considerably more plausible that the Genesis 1 passage is meant to parallel the temple than to be a proto-scientific account of the universes origins. Moreover, the aforementioned parallels can be accounted for within the temple framework. There were four stages in the temple construction which are
                      (1) the bringing together of the materials
                      (2) the creation of the structure of form of the building
                      (3) the creation of the items which would fill the building
                      (4) the resulting presence of God, who then dwells or rests in his temple.

                      This fits exactly what is going on in the creation narrative
                      (1) The raw materials are present at the beginning but are “formless and void”
                      (2) God forms creation in Days 1-3
                      (3) God fills creation in Days 4-6
                      (4) God rests/dwells/reigns in His majestic creation

                      The Hebrew people constructed their lives around constant worship and acknowledgement of who God is and what He has done. Thus, it is no surprise that there would be a parallel between the work weeks. In the six days man works, he is drawn to remember the sovereignty and creative power of God. On the his day of rest, he is drawn to remember that it is God who rules and reigns over all things. The similarities between the temple and the cosmos are nicely summarized by John Walton:

                      

“In the biblical text the description of the tabernacle and temple contain many transparent connections to the cosmos. This connection was explicitly recognized as early as the second century A.D. in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, who says of the tabernacle: “every one of these objects is intended to recall and represent the universe”.

                      In the outer courtyard were various representations of cosmic geography. Most important are the water basin, which I Kings 7:23-26 designates “sea”, and the bronze pillars, described in 1 Kings 7:15-22, which perhaps represented the pillars of the earth. The horizontal axis in the temple was arranged in the same order as the vertical axis in the cosmos.

                      From the courtyard, which contained the elements outside the organized cosmos (cosmic waters and the pillars of the earth), on would move into the organized cosmos as he entered the antechamber. Here were the Menorah (lampstand), the Table of Bread, and the incense altar. In the Pentateuch’s description of the tabernacle, the lamp and its olive oil are provided for “light” (especially Ex. 35:14; Num. 4:9). This word for light is the same word used to describe the celestial bodies in day four (rather than calling them the sun and moon). As the menorah represented the light provided by God, the “Bread of the Presence” (Ex. 25:30) represented food provided by God. The altar of incense provided a sweet-smelling cloud across the face of the veil that separated the two chambers.

                      If we transpose from the horizontal axis to the vertical, the veil separated the earthly sphere, with its functions, from the heavenly sphere, where God dwells. This latter was represented in the holy of holies, where the footstool of the throne of God (the ark) was placed.”

                      In my analysis, it is immensely unlikely that a proto-scientific, “just-the-facts-ma’am” type of passage would be able to account for all of these rich theological applications. Moreover, given the previous reference by Josephus, it does not seem that the Hebrew people themselves took Genesis 1 in the fashion proposed by the 24 hour view.

                      In summary, we have seen reasons to think the 24 hour view is abjectly false and independent reasons to think the 24 hour view is not the intended meaning of Genesis 1.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      The first flaw is this notion of “can’t”. When people say why “can’t” a passage mean something, it seems to portray that they are not sincere in finding out what the text really means.

                      Oh, great. The bible says “six days” and now fundamentalists are dishonest because they insist that six days means six days.

                      This terminology communicates “I have decided what this passage means and unless you show that it is absolutely impossible, then I’m going to stick to it no matter what”.

                      Words have meaning in context. It is not unreasonable to stick with the meaning without good reason not to.

                      An example would be the debate over the Eucharist. When Jesus said “this is my body, take and eat”, did he mean it was actually, literally, essentially his body?

                      You might be fooled into believing that, unless someone gave good reason that Jesus did not mean the bread and the wine were actually His body.

                      We still have to make our case using context, experience, historical setting, etc

                      Great. Then you have your work cut out for you.

                      I don’t think that the view I’m defending can be demonstrated to be absolutely impossible.

                      Then you do not have a case.

                      By this standard, it would be legitimate for me to say “I find the claim of 24 hours extraordinary. Until someone shows me why Genesis can’t be a framework I’ll be justified in continuing what I’ve always believed”.

                      Nope. The bible says “six days.” Words have meaning in context. Until you can show how these words cannot mean what they plainly say, we are justified in sticking with them.

                      To show that one truly cares about what a text actually says instead of asking for a rebutting defeater to some possible meaning, one should ask “what is the best meaning”.

                      Nope.

                      Words have meaning in context. When fundamentalists start with the plain meaning, they start at an advantage. Even with the Eucharist, a mistaken fundamentalist would start at an advantage by mistakenly believing that Jesus meant exactly what He about the bread and the wine.

                      However, there is an obvious difference between the two cases. With the Eucharist, the fundamentalist can point to Jesus’ words to show how His description was a parable, but with “six days” there is no scripture that informs us that it cannot mean what it plainly says.

                      Unless the interpretation is positively absurd, it is virtually impossible to show that ANY passage “can’t” mean something.

                      Poppycock!

                      The bread and wine passage can easily be showed to not mean Jesus’ body and blood.

                      The use of “plain meaning” … is more or less an appeal to intuition.

                      Is there something wrong with expecting people to understand what is meant by words?

                      The plain meaning of anything is fueled by background information, presuppositions, experiences and many other things.

                      Then unpack these reasons for “six days.” Give us the background background information, presuppositions, experiences and many other things that show “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

  14. grantjohndexter says :

    I know that you don’t share my presuppositions.

    No you don’t. I could agree with every one of your presuppositions and you would not be an inch toward answering my question rationally. That the passage has intent you suggest for it does not show that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

  15. grantjohndexter says :

    My first argument goes like this: it is impossible to be an inerrantist Christian and hold to the 24 hour view.

    Arguments from consequence are still irrational.

  16. grantjohndexter says :

    My second argument goes like this: it is reasonable to think the 24 hour view is not the intended meaning of Genesis 1.

    You can argue for your case when you have showed that you have a case. First you have to show that you have a case. Tell us why “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says.

    is immensely unlikely that a proto-scientific, “just-the-facts-ma’am” type of passage would be able to account for all of these rich theological applications. Moreover, given the previous reference by Josephus, it does not seem that the

    Arguments from consequence are still irrational.

    It does not seem the Hebrew people themselves took Genesis 1 in the fashion proposed by the 24 hour view.

    Sounds like you have the beginnings of a case. Where do the Hebrews say that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says?

    We have seen reasons to think the 24 hour view is abjectly false and independent reasons to think the 24 hour view is not the intended meaning of Genesis 1.

    Falsely declaring victory is another logical fallacy.

    • caplawson says :

      First, will you define what you mean by “argument from consequence”? I have shown you many many times that I’m using a proof by contradiction yet you seem to keep ignoring that.

      • grantjohndexter says :

        Will you define what you mean by “argument from consequence”?

        You have linked to the definition on Wiki eough times.

        I have shown you many many times that I’m using a proof by contradiction yet you seem to keep ignoring that.

        You can use a proof by contradiction once we begin discussing truth valies among what we believe. Right now we are just looking for you to show how “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says. Mentioning what you say are contradictory conclusions if the plain meaning is true is an argument from consequence.

        • caplawson says :

          So, I think you’re misunderstanding my contention. I’m arguing:

          Suppose the meaning of the text is indeterminate. Suppose there is equal warrant for the 24 hour view as there is for the framework view. What we can see is, independent of this answer, there is a rebutting defeater for the 24 hour view. I’m conceding that even if we had warrant to think the 24 hour view is what is taught by Scripture, we do not have warrant for thinking it is actually true.

          The second part is to say there are independent reasons to think the 24 hour view is not taught by Scripture. I’m conceding that even if we had warrant for thinking the Earth is only 6,000 – 50,000 years old, we do not have warrant to think that this is taught in Scripture.

          What I am NOT arguing is: “The 24 hour view is false, therefore, it’s not the meaning of Genesis 1”. You’re correct in that this would probably be an argument from consequence. But it’s not what I’m contending.

          • grantjohndexter says :

            Suppose the meaning of the text is indeterminate

            No. The meaning of the text is perfectly clear. It says “six days.”

            To pretend it is “indeterminate” is to level the playing field. This is not a level playing field. Words have meaning in context — you reject the plain meaning, so you have to give good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says if you want to present your case.

            • caplawson says :

              So, I think you’re still missing what I’m saying because I ended my comment with “We have a rebutting defeater for the 24 hour view. I’m conceding that even if we had warrant to think the 24 hour view is what is taught by Scripture, we do not have warrant for thinking it is actually true.” which is consistent with your “level playing field” comments.

              • grantjohndexter says :

                We have a rebutting defeater for the 24 hour view.

                Arguments from consequence are irrational.

                You need to show good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says. Only then will your ideas have any rational basis.

                Until you show good reason, the only rational response to your defeaters, if they can be showed accurate, is to conclude that the bible is not an accurate account of history.

                • caplawson says :

                  That’s what I’m saying, Grant! There are two independent contentions here. The first says that irrespective of the actual meaning, the 24 hour view is false. The second, independent contention says there are undercutting defeaters for the notion that the 24 hour view is the actual meaning of the text.

                  What you are asking for is virtually impossible. It’s rare to demonstrate that a text “can’t” mean something. What can be demonstrated is that there are reasons to think a particular understanding of the text is not the best understanding. For example: Remember that discussion about the Eucharist? Would you say that “the bread is my body” can’t mean “the bread is my body”? Of course not, but you would say that is not the best understanding of what Jesus said. Why is it any different here? Why does the 24 hour view have to be absolutely impossible for you to reject it as what the text means?

                  Lastly, I’m beginning to think there is no distinction between your usage of “plain meaning” and “actual meaning”. Is this the case? If so, what is the difference between a “plain” meaning and an “actual” meaning?

                  (Also, I’m not using arguments from consequence but you have refused to recognize this thus far so I doubt you will now)

                  • grantjohndexter says :

                    What you are asking for is virtually impossible.

                    That is the position you put yourself in when you deny the plain meaning of words.

                    Would you say that “the bread is my body” can’t mean “the bread is my body”?

                    Yes.

                    Why is it any different here?

                    Because I can give good reason showing that Jesus did not intend it to be believed that bread had changed into flesh and wine into blood.

                    Why does the 24 hour view have to be absolutely impossible for you to reject it as what the text means?

                    That is the task you have burdened yourself with by promoting the idea that “six days” does not mean what it plainly says. The burden of proof you have created for yourself is enormous. You need very compelling reasons to show that six days cannot mean what it plainly says before you can establish your alternative idea.

                    If you cannot give good reason, we should reject your idea and stick with what the bible says.

                    And if the cost of that rejection is to find that the bible is self-contradictory, then that is the price we should pay for being rational examiners of the word.

                    I’m beginning to think there is no distinction between your usage of “plain meaning” and “actual meaning”

                    Then you would be wrong. I can think of plenty of examples where the plain meaning is not the actual meaning.

                    However, in all those cases I can quickly and easily give good reason for why the plain meaning needs to be augmented. And in none of those cases do I claim that the plain meaning is not accurate.

                    I’m not using arguments from consequence.

                    Sure, you are. When I ask for good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says and you respond with the consequences of a contradictory bible if one believes in six days, that is an argument from consequence.

                    • caplawson says :

                      “When I ask for good reason that “six days” cannot mean what it plainly says and you respond with the consequences of a contradictory bible if one believes in six days, that is an argument from consequence.”

                      Which is exactly why I said earlier that this is not my argument. Read:

                      “What I am NOT arguing is: “The 24 hour view is false, therefore, it’s not the meaning of Genesis 1″. You’re correct in that this would probably be an argument from consequence. But it’s not what I’m contending.”

                      The point here is that I’m anticipating your counter. If I say “I can’t prove that it’s impossible for “six days” to mean the 24 hour view” then you would say “Then I am justified in continuing believing what I always have”. What I’m trying to show is that you can continue believing the Bible teaches the 24 hour view but you cannot rationally continue believing such a view corresponds to reality. Does this make sense? I know that it’s rather nuanced and it’s hard to understand at first.

                      Do you think that the transubstantiationist interpretation of the Eucharist is absolutely impossible or just unreasonable?

                      • If the first, then I would be interested in seeing how in the world you could exegete such an ambiguous text so strongly. What methods are there that I am unfamiliar with?
                      • If the second, then you’re just playing fast and loose with your hermeneutics. The views you disagree with just have to be unreasonable to be rejected while the views you do agree with have to be proven absolutely impossible to be rejected.

                      I think it’s virtually impossible to say that certain texts can’t be stretched into various, possible meanings. I definitely think it’s the case with Genesis 1. The text of Genesis 1 can be stretched and contorted to fit the 24 hour view and I can’t prove otherwise. What I have attempted to show thus far is that first, while this can be done, it cannot tell us something true about the world. Second, I have attempted to show that such an interpretation of the text strains at the integrity of the meaning as demonstrated by the parallels to the temple, the historical context, and the polemic nature of the opening chapter of Genesis.

                    • grantjohndexter says :

                      Which is exactly why I said earlier that this is not my argument.

                      Then you need to give your answer. Why can “six days” not mean what it plainly says?

                      The point here is that I’m anticipating your counter.

                      You should quit trying to read my mind and just answer the question. Why can “six days” not mean what it plainly says?

                      If I say “I can’t prove that it’s impossible for “six days” to mean the 24 hour view” then you would say “Then I am justified in continuing believing what I always have”.

                      That’s right.

                      On the other hand, if you do give good reason, I might be compelled to abandon what I believe. Then you would be well placed to teach me things. Tempting, no?

                      What I’m trying to show is that you can continue believing the Bible teaches the 24 hour view but you cannot rationally continue believing such a view corresponds to reality.

                      Then you are asking that we reject the bible as an accurate source of history.

    • caplawson says :

      This is the definition I’m using: Appeal to consequences, is an argument that concludes a hypothesis to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences. This is based on an appeal to emotion and is a type of informal fallacy, since the desirability of a consequence does not make it true.

      But I’m not claiming that the 24 hour leads to bad consequences; I’m claiming it’s a logical contradiction. This is called a proof by contradiction which is defined as “a form of proof that establishes the truth or validity of a proposition by showing that the proposition’s being false would imply a contradiction. Proof by contradiction is also known as indirect proof”.

      In this case, I am assuming the proposition “not the 24 hour view” is false. A logical contradiction is elicited this confirming the truth of “not the 24 hour view”.

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