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The Gap in Creation.

As an old earth creationist, I respond to certain issues raised in the Seely-Ross exchange (PSCF 59, no. 1 [2007]: 37-54). My view that Gen. 1:1 refers to the creation of the universe and a global earth (cf. e.g., Pss. 121:2; 124:8), (1) on which there was a succession of different "worlds" (Gen. 2:4; Heb. 1:2; 11:3); that there is then an undisclosed gap in time between the first two verses of Genesis (cf. the gap in Isa. 61:1,2 till "the day of vengeance," Luke 4:18,19); that Gen. 1:2a describes a destruction event (cf. similar phraseology in Isa. 34; Jer. 4); and that this was followed by the creation of a new world in six literal 24-hour days (Exod. 20:8-11); accords with the majority gap school interpretation (Thomas Chalmers, et al.). However, my view that the flood of Gen. 1:2 was a local deluge, which was then followed by a local creation on the local earth (Gen. 41:56; Matt. 12:42) under the local heaven (Deut. 2:25; Col. 1:23) of Eden's world (Luke 2:1; Rom. 1:8) in six 24-hour days (Gen. 2:10-14), is a minority gap school view (Pye Smith, Henry Alcock, et al.). (2) The better known majority gap school view, which is contrary to established scientific facts, is that of a global flood and global creation in Gen. 1:2ff.

I note a serious methodological concern with Seely's view "that the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day, not just made to appear," through reference to "qualified Old Testament scholarship," which in turn, Ross says is a "distortion," at which point the exchange between them bogs down. Certainly neither of them refers to the many gap school proponents of this view. But we should not simply abdicate to so called "experts" in academia, since these people sometimes simply maintain an academic normatively due to their own intellectual or spiritual mediocrity, against more intellectually gifted and spiritually discerning outsiders. We must judge such matters on their merits.

For example, on a gap school model is "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3) reasonably something like, "I form the light, and create darkness," "from the rising of the sun" (Isa. 45:6, 7)? Is the "firmament" of Gen. 1:6-8 reasonably something like, though not identical with, "He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth" (Ps. 135:7; cf. Jer. 10:13; 51:16)? Is the phraseology of the fourth day similar to Job 9:7, 9, where we read that God "commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars" i.e., by covering of cloud or dust storm (e.g., Luke 23:44)? But then God "maketh" the stars such as "Arcturus, Orion, and Pleides, and the chambers of the south" (Job 9:9) i.e., by clearing the sky. The word "maketh" in Job 9:9 is Hebrew 'asah, the same word used for "made" in Gen. 1:16, "And God made two great lights." It can also carry with it the idea of "appoint," e.g., "He appointed ('asah) the moon for seasons" (Ps. 104:19). Likewise, the Hebrew word nathan translated "set" in Gen. 1:17, "God set them in the firmament," can mean "appoint" (e.g., Exod. 30:16; Lev. 35:6; Josh. 20:2; 2 Kings 8:6; 1 Chron. 6:48; 16:4; Ezek. 45:6). Thus on the fourth day God appointed ('asah and nathan) them for their purpose in the world of humans that he was about to create, "for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Gen. 1:14), "and" also "to divide the light from the darkness" in the world humans were to inhabit (Gen. 1:18).

Seely's criticism that a date for Adam "stretches the genealogy in Genesis 5 to unrealistic dimensions" is not a biblically based conclusion. I have previously shown that such dates are within biblical parameters; and that events in Mesopotamia on the genealogies prima facie dates are symbolic types pointing backwards e.g., I think the Kish Flood of 2,600 BC (which only covered a part of Kish) types Noah's much earlier flood. (3) I also note the teaching of Ps. 105:8 that since a "covenant" was "commanded to a thousand generations," this means that in about 1,000 BC, there had to have been "a thousand generations" who had received the covenant, so that Adam must probably date to somewhere between about 35,000 BC to 70,000 BC. Though I regard this as the covenant of grace, and Jewish interpretations find in it another covenant, I note that one ancient Jewish view, though by no means the only Jewish view of Ps. 105:8, understands it in this type of way. (4)

Seely's criticism that there is a lack of credulity in that "Lamech remembers not only the name of Adam, but the words God spoke to Adam some supposed 45,000 years ago (Gen. 3:17; 5:29)," has a low view of the prophetic gift in Bible times. Why could not God have revealed this to him?

But Seely is on much stronger ground when he says the picture of Gen. 7:19 requires that the mountains be covered with water, upon which the ark comes to rest. He is quite right in recognizing that the Mesopotamian flood plain cannot be meant on Ross' model of the mountains of Ararat. But as I have previously shown, the Flood may be placed in the Persian Gulf which was then dry land. (5) There are many little islands now there, which may have been the "high hills" first covered, and then uncovered after the Flood. Thus I think "Ararat" originally referred to this region, and was probably later extended to include the Zagros Mountains and present day Ararat mountains. (If anything of Noah's ark survives, and possibly it does not, these islands would be a good place to look for it.) Another criticism Seely could have made, but did not, of Ross's Mesopotamian flood theory, is that it lacks credibility during the last Ice Age 10,000-70,000 years ago, due to the cold inhospitable Mesopotamian conditions which would not sustain the garden of Gen. 3 or civilizations described in Gen. 4-9. In a manner something like, though not identical with, Eskimos, any human beings in Mesopotamia during the last ice age would have moved in and out of ice conditions as they journeyed around this region. (6) By contrast, the Persian Gulf was a warm area full of sunshine. (7)

Seely's criticism that Ross's model has "no evidence of" such ancient societies, is not satisfactorily answered in Ross's reply of "40,000 years of natural erosion" in Mesopotamia. But a lost world is a reasonable reply to a Persian Gulf location, since the area has been under water for over 10,000 years in both the region of Eden and Noah's anthropologically but geographically local flood. Researchers reasonably find it hard to investigate anything remaining under the Persian Gulf, so the model can be neither proven nor disproven by present archaeology. But Mesopotamia is sufficiently accessible to archaeology to reasonably disprove the existence of any such society of the type required in Ross's model.

Gavin McGrath

PO Box 834

Nowra, NSW, 2541 Australia

gmcgrath@easy.com.au

Notes

(1) All Bible references are to the Authorized (King James) Version.

(2) J. P. Smith, The Relation between the Holy Scripture and Some Parts of Geological Science, 5th ed. (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1852); E. Hitchcock, Elementary Geology, 8th ed., with an Introduction by J. Pye Smith (New York: Newman, 1847), 297-302; H. J. Alcock, Earth's Preparation for Man (London: James Nisbett, 1897); J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1996).

(3) Gavin McGrath, "Soteriology: Adam & the Fall," PSCF 49 (1997): 252-3, 257-8. This was written when I was a theistic evolutionist, but I amnow an old earth creationist.

(4) H. Freedman and M. Simon, eds., Midrash Rabbah, vol. 9, Esther & Song of Songs, Song of Songs, trans. M. Simon (London: Soncino Press, 1939), 242-3; Volume on Ruth & Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes, trans. A. Cohen, 211.

(5) McGrath, "Soteriology: Adam& the Fall," 258-9. 6W. C. Brice, South West Asia: A Systematic Regional Geography, vol. 8 (London: University of London, 1966), 7, 11.

(7) McGrath, "Soteriology: Adam& the Fall," 259.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:McGrath, Gavin
Publication:Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:1411
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