Howard J. Van Till, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says: “[The early chapters of Genesis] were never intended to answer questions about precisely what happened. ... The seven-day chronology that we find in Genesis 1 has no connection with the actual chronology of the Creator’s continuous dynamic action in the cosmos. The creation-week motif is a literary device ... [containing] imaginative illustrations of the way in which God and the Creation are related” (Van Till, The Fourth Day: What the Bible and the Heavens Are Telling Us About the Creation, Eerdmans, 1986, pp. 83-85).
The New Bible Commentary, published by InterVarsity Press, takes the same position. (The consulting editors include D.A. Carson, who is influential in fundamentalist circles through his book The King James Version Debate: A Plea for Realism. I have seen this book for sale in the Bob Jones University bookstore as well as in many other fundamentalist bookstores.) The fourth edition (1994) of the New Bible Commentary says: “Most of these stories [in Genesis 1-11] deal with periods long before writing was invented, so they cannot be ‘history’ in the strict sense of the term or be verified by evidence from outside the Bible. ... T. Jacobsen has coined the term ‘mytho-historical’ to describe such literature ... ‘Myth’ has negative overtones, so ‘proto-history’ is probably a better way to describe Genesis 1-11. In the present state of knowledge it is difficult to know how to relate these chapters to modern scientific discovery. ... In that these are days of God’s activity not human work, it is unlikely that they are supposed to last twenty-four hours.”
It is impossible to integrate such statements with the Bible’s own testimony, and the chief reason for denying the historical nature of Genesis is the capitulation to evolution.
The following are nine reasons why we can be certain that the first chapters of Genesis are historical. This is an excerpt from the new Way of Life Advanced Bible Course on The Book of Genesis.
1. The six days of creation were evening and morning days, thus referring to normal 24-hour days (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
2. When the word “day” is prefaced with a numerical adjective in the Bible, it always refers to a normal day -- “first day” (Gen. 1:5), “second day” (Gen. 1:8), “third day” (Gen. 1:13), “fourth day” (Gen. 1:19), “fifth day” (Gen. 1:23), “sixth day” (Gen. 1:31), “seventh day” (Gen. 2:3). “Although the Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom) is used nearly two thousand times in the Old Testament, only in rare cases can it refer to a time period longer than twenty-four hours, and then only if the context demands it (e.g., ‘day of the Lord’). However, when a numerical adjective is attached to the word ‘day’ (200 known cases in the OT) its meaning is always restricted to twenty-four hours” (John Whitcomb, The Early Earth, p. 28).
3. The “days” of creation are linked to “years” in Gen. 1:14. “Since the word ‘days’ in Genesis 1:14 is linked with the word ‘years,’ it is quite obvious that our well-known units of time are being referred to, their duration being determined not by cultural or subjective circumstances, but by the fixed movements of the earth in reference to the sun. Otherwise the term ‘years’ would be meaningless” (Whitcomb).
4. The six days of creation are the same type of days as the sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11).
5. The first five chapters of the Bible is written as history; there is nothing in the record to indicate that it is to be interpreted non-literally, as poetry or symbolism. When the Bible uses symbolism, it plainly distinguishes that it is such and it gives the key for interpreting the symbols. We see this in Revelation, for example. In chapter 17 John describes a woman sitting on a beast, and he plainly tells us that this is a mystery and he gives the interpretation of the symbolic language in the passage itself (vv. 7-18). Genesis 1-5, though, is written as history. Gen. 5:5 says that Adam lived 930 years and then died. If Adam merely symbolized mankind in general, what happened to mankind after Adam died?
6. Adam and Eve are spoken of in the rest of the Bible as real people. Adam and Eve are mentioned 34 times in the Bible. They are mentioned in at least four books of the Old Testament (Gen. 2-5; Deut. 32:8; 1 Ch. 1:1; and Job 31:33) and in eight books of the New Testament (Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-8; Lk. 3:38; Rom. 5:12, 14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; 2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; and Jude 14). No one who believes that the Bible is the infallible Word of God can doubt the historicity of the account of Adam and Eve.
7. The serpent of Genesis 3 is spoken of in the New Testament as the devil (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). The Bible always treats the devil as a real historical personage.
8. If Adam and Eve were not historical figures, the fall is a myth and redemption through the cross of Christ is nonsense. See Romans 5:12-19.
9. To deny the historicity of Adam is to deny Jesus Christ. He referred to Adam and Eve as historic (Mk. 10:6-8). His genealogy is traced from Adam (Lk. 3:23-38). Further, the N.T. makes direct comparisons between Christ and Adam (Rom. 5:17; 1 Cor. 15:22-45).
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