Thursday, January 29, 2015

Response to Justin Taylor on 24-hour creation days (Part 2)

[continued from here]

Next, we'll move on to Taylor's third argument, that "The Seventh 'Day' is Not 24 hours long." On this issue, what I will say here is at best cursory, but note here that the 4th commandment depends on the seventh day being an actual day of similar length as the other six days. The Sabbath commandment is not a command to work six days, then we rest for the rest of eternity (pun unintended). So from the 4th commandment itself, there is prima facie reason to reject the idea of an eternal seventh day.

More importantly, those who promote an eternal seventh day fail to adequately address the difference in the rationales given for honoring the Sabbath between the account in Exodus (given at the beginning of the Israelites' wondering) and the second writing of the law as described in Deuteronomy (done near the end of the Israelites' wondering). For those who are astute, one will recognize that the Exodus account grounds the command to keep the Sabbath in the creation account, complete with the discussion of 6 days of work and 1 day of rest, while the Deuteronomic account grounds the command to keep the Sabbath in Israel's redemption from Egypt. For Christians who believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, we cannot take the easy way out to postulate two different traditions concerning the 10 commandments. Rather, both rationales are equally valid for their specific occasions in redemptive history, the former at the beginning of Israel's rebellion and subsequent wondering, the latter just before the conquest of the Promised Land. We see here that there are two kinds of Sabbath principles at work: one of creation, and one of redemption. Or one can see them rather as having a redemptive-historical slant, the former of creation, and the latter of new creation. This shows us that the Sabbath is both of creation, and of redemption.

Therefore, when we read passages such as Psalms 95 and Hebrews 4, we agree they speak concerning the eternal Sabbath, but that is not the eternal Sabbath of creation, but rather the Sabbath of the new creation that will come: the eschatological age. Taylor's appropriation of the concept of the eternal creation Sabbath is therefore in error.

The 4th argument is that "The “Day” of Genesis 2:4 Cannot Be 24 Hours Long." But this is to fail at basic exegesis, since the phrase there is not the word yom ("day") by itself, but with the preposition בְּ (be), in בְּי֗וֹם (beyom). Taylor here remarks that this use of yom presents a puzzle for YEC, but this just show his ignorance, since we have long since addressed this issue. In the beginning, I wrote about how doctrinal disputes should be managed, and the imperative to address what the opponent is saying, instead of being ignorant especially of their counter-arguments. Here is where this issue of ignorance rears its head. Taylor shows his ignorance of the YEC counter-argument on this point, which is not a good reflection on his article and the spirit in which he writes this article.

Taylor's last argument is that "The Explanation of Genesis 2:5-7 Assumes More Than an Ordinary Calendar Day." Taylor here relies on Mark Futato's article Because It Had Not Rained, putting forward the Klinean argument that Genesis 2:5-6 supports that we are dealing very much with ordinary providence in the creation account, and thus the natural processes require more than a day. However, as I have written in another blog post, this Klinean argument is without teeth. There is a qualitative difference between the vegetation in Genesis 2 and that of Genesis 1, so Genesis 2:5-6 is not speaking of Day 3 of the creation account. Genesis 2:5-6 is therefore not promoting the operation of ordinary providence in the creation days, but rather the beginning of the processes of providence in day 6 for the growth of cultivated plants especially in Eden.

Having refuted Taylor's article, we will address Taylor's closing remarks. Taylor commented on God's condescension to us in analogical and anthropomorphic speech. That is true, but just as true is the direction of analogy. God uses anthropomorphisms as figures of speech to express what is true for our experience. The direction is always us-wards, not God-wards. Thus, to say that God is refreshed in Ex. 31:17 speaks to our understanding, not that somehow the issue of Sabbath and it being a day for rest is not somehow actually true!

In speaking of the creation days, the days are externally acted on by God, not predicated of him internally, and thus not an anthropomorphism. The direction in Scripture seems to be God using the creation days as analogies, which is the opposite flow of those advocating for analogical views of the creation days. In the former, the creation days are materially present, and THEN God uses them as an analogy for the 6-day work week and 1 day of Sabbath, from literal to analogy. In the latter however, the creation days are treated as analogical from the onset, and the literal sense is relegated (in the Framework view) to "God's work week," something that is unknown in Scripture except for the actual 6-day creation story in Genesis 1. Biblical analogy proceeds from the prior material to the spiritual, not the other way around, or worse, from spiritual (God in the "Upper Register") to spiritual (Man). After all, we see in Galatians 4 the allegorization of Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael, all of whom were actual historical persons long before their stories were allegorized to make a doctrinal point!

In conclusion, we have answered and refuted Taylor's arguments against 24-hour creation days. Those who hold to the plain sense of Genesis 1-2 do not have anything to fear from those promoting alternative theories. It would be really helpful if the next time anyone wants to write against the 6-24 view, they would actually interact with the latest YEC arguments and counter-arguments, instead of demonstrating their ignorance of them.

No comments: