Following the publication of Darwin’s theory in 1859 and its apparent support from Charles Lyell’s geological studies, there have always been Christians prepared to go only so far with their faith in Scripture. The point of departure usually begins with Noah and his Ark at the Genesis Flood. To accept that the Genesis Flood was completely global makes Noah and his Ark absolutely necessary. Somehow, to believe that the Earth was created millions of years in the past seems more rational and is perceived to be supported by the findings of science. The Scottish popular writer Hugh Miller [1802-1856] was an evangelical Christian and very familiar with rocks and fossils. In his book, The Testimony of the Rocks, he argued that the creation days spoken of in Genesis chapter one were actually the days when Moses received his revelation of the creation on Mount Sinai! In this way, Miller believed he had reconciled the few thousand years implied by Scripture with the millions of years demanded by geology. After completing his manuscript, he was deeply troubled and shot himself on Christmas Eve, 1856. His book appeared from the publisher the following month. His was one of the first Day-Age theories and was short-lived.
Miller’s suicide had discredited his theory, but another more successful and longer-lived Day-Age theory soon appeared. This new theory argued that the Hebrew word YOM, meaning “day,” can be used either literally or figuratively in Scripture. While this is true, the theory adds that in the case of Genesis chapter one, YOM is used in the figurative sense to mean long ages. Then, with this understanding, it is claimed there is no conflict of Scripture with science. There is, however, plenty of conflict with common sense. For example, if those “days” were each millions of years, then we might wonder how the grasses, herbs and fruit trees created on the third “day” survived until the sun was created on the fourth “day.” In the matter of the Genesis Flood, this is placed either in the remote past – before the creation of man – or it was local. However, if it took place before the creation of man, it could not have been a judgment upon man’s wickedness, while Noah and his Ark become mere fiction. Alternatively, if the Genesis Flood took place in historic time, then it is said to be local but global in the minds of the people of the day.
A local flood certainly casts doubt on God’s instructions to Noah since by far the simpler solution would have been for Noah to move out of the area. Certainly, this not only makes Noah a fool to have built the Ark in the first place but suggests that Jesus and Peter were gullible enough to have believed the story. However, the most serious objection to the Day-Age Theory is that like other theories that downgrade the Genesis Flood from global to local, it makes God a covenant-breaker. God’s covenant not to destroy man nor animals again by a flood is given in Genesis 9:8-17, and He gave the rainbow as the sign of His covenant promise. We have had many local floods with great loss of life since God made that promise.
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