A Response to the Technical Journal Critique of The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?
Frank DeRemer, who reviewed the book by Gorman Gray, The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits? has “problems” with it, based chiefly on three stated items (TJ 19(2) 2005 p51).
1) My contention that a “cloud of thick darkness” (Job 38:9) remained over the surface of the primordial ocean for an undefined length of time, perhaps megayears, leaves the first day with no evening and therefore it is only a half day.
2) My rendition of “tohu” as deserted, uninhabited or desolate (v2) should be abandoned in favor of the common “formless.”
3) “Heavens” (v1) should refer to space, not stars, and “earth” should refer, not to our planet but to the universal water out of which God later crafted every material thing.
When Bible believers differ, especially on emotionally charged subjects, often the words become harsh even when not intended that way, so I want to preface my rejoinder with I Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous …” That is the way I want it to be received. We agree on so much. The chief disagreement reduces to my refusal to put a date on Genesis 1:1.
His book review extends to seven pages in TJ, partly because in addition to reviewing my book he offers his own exposition, claiming, numerous times, that his is “clear,” “plain” and “reasonable,”whereas mine is on the “wrong track,” “inconsistent with Scripture,” “unreasonable” and “twists” Scripture (also alleged numerous times). Twelve times the heading “Error” appears referring to my book, in contrast to 16 times the heading “Truth” appears, referring to his version.
1) Briefly on the three points above, the half day “problem” is not a problem at all, but to satisfy technicalities, just imagine clearing the cloud of thick darkness to translucence at 6 PM observer’s time. Then observer will have an evening on day one, but this point applies equally to those who think the creation of heavens and earth was part of the first day. Most certainly they have no evening possible. Come to think of it, my model works better than Frank’s on his own point #1 because he cannot have an evening whereas mine passes easily as suggested. “Let there be light,” if referring to light throughout the universe, does not allow an evening anywhere, especially when there is nothing but amorphous water extending throughout space on which to experience the first evening. A bit weird don’t you think?
So I ask, “Was there, or was there not, a ‘cloud of thick darkness’ surrounding the earth like a garment and diaper when it emerged from the ‘womb’ and at its ‘foundation?'” (That cloud is also named “the waters that were above.”) Well, God says there was such a cloud, and it explains many, many things. DeRemer calls it “misuse” of Job 38:9. But the Job reference aside, someone tell me how long the darkness prevailed over the surface of the ocean (the deep v2) and I will tell you how old the earth is. While you are at it, you might tell me how long Venus and Titan have been occluded. Nobody knows that either, but if those bodies can have clouds darkening their worlds considerably, then the earth could have been totally opaque for an undefined amount of time as well. So I ask again, “Was there, or was there not, a cloud of thick darkness surrounding the earth like a garment surrounds a newborn?” As long as darkness on the ocean surface endured, a “first day” was impossible and we cannot date Genesis 1:1.
2) To determine the meaning of “tohu” I use the subtraction method. Starting at day six when we agree everything was completed and perfect, then rewinding through the events by subtracting each day’s activities, we can observe what happens to the earth at the loss of each day. Subtracting days six, five and four, the earth remains an intact, complete planet.
Then subtracting day three, we still have a complete planet, although it is ocean-covered and the submerged land is no longer visible and certainly no longer dry. Subtracting day two we lose the expanse, the medium “where birds fly” (v20) but the planet is intact. Then subtract day one and we still have the completed planet, every bit as fully formed as in day six, but it is totally dark on the ocean surface. When God commands, “Let there be light” that begins the first day (at 6 pm observer’s time, if you must). So I insist that the translations “without form,” “formless,” “unformed” are very far from the contextual meaning and “tohu” should be translated “deserted,” “desolate,” or “uninhabited,” which are common translations for “tohu.” (See Brown, Driver and Briggs and other lexicons). There was nothing watery about the earth and universe at its birth except the universal, enveloping ocean like today or even more precisely like it was during the global flood. The planet earth mineral base was complete, covered with ocean, although without a biosphere.
However, Mr. DeRemer posits creation of the planet on day three rather than verse one so he rejects this path for the subtraction method. But it was on day three when God defined the dry ground as earth. God commanded the waters to gather together in one place and the dry land “stood out of the water” which, when reversed produced the global flood (II Peter 3:1-6 KJV, Psalm 104:5-9). The planet is not at all in view for third day action but the continents certainly are in view, leaving the path open for a fully formed planet earth, complete on day one. I regard the subtraction method as unanswerable unless mental acrobatics such as a primordial water-universe are invented. That is, far from the Bible text.
3) But I must ask how anyone can take an “amorphous” ball of water, out of which the entire universe of stars is supposed to be constructed, and then somehow call that super immense ball of water “earth”? Or to conjecture an inner ball of water inside the big one and name it “earth” simply boggles the mind. Would you call molten brass a statue? Even worse would you call a bathtub of water a statue? No, it has to be first transmuted from water into molten brass in a refractory vessel then cast into the shape of a statue, cooled. and stripped. Only then is it a statue. So also, water is not earth, not by a country light-year. How can you call it earth when there is no earth likeness to it at all? This is gross eisegesis, reading into the text things that simply are not there even remotely.
David (Psalms 19 and Psalm 8) defines heavens as “sun, moon and stars” which God created “in the beginning” before the first day. But during the six day work, God Himself defines heaven as air, and earth as dry land. Every language has multiple definitions for words and verse one could not use the “air and land” definition because those items had not been created yet. But the heavens, earth and sea of Exodus 20:11 are defined unmistakably for us by God Himself during those identified six days after the verse one creation of the galaxies and planet earth mineral base. Because He defines these activities in the simplest, noncontroversial terms, Day, Night, Dry Land, and Sea, it is monstrous to suddenly define the raquia (expanse) as “space” or the stretched out universe. The expanse is the stuff birds fly in (v20) and that can only be air, another very common, child-understandable term. The stretched out universe Mr. DeRemer proposes is anything but a simple, everyday concept like day or night and it is utterly controversial. No, the expanse is the air, and because these definitions are found in the midst of the six day record, those definitions or descriptions must be used in Exodus 20:11 which references the same six days. That is basic hermeneutics 101 or if there is a grade school version that would be one of the first concepts to drill. Context determines the interpretation and the context of Exodus 20:11 is the six day record where, relating to the six day work, shamayim (heavens, air), eretz (land, earth), raquia (expanse), and yam (sea) are defined for us by God Himself. And they are defined in the simplest terms imaginable, commonly known even to children. Furthermore if one does not define the expanse as the air, then there is no record of the atmosphere being created at all. No air? Even when describing the creation of the biosphere? Help! Mr. DeRemer urges, “Allow the text itself to define those terms.” But that is precisely what I have done throughout, rigorously and faithfully. “For six days Yahweh worked on the air, the land and the sea and everything in them and rested the seventh day.”
The central items enumerated by Mr. DeRemer are answered quite easily. Much more could be said and Mr. DeRemer records other objections, such as “presuppositions” and “misuse” of Job 38 but, ironically, presuppositions and misuse is my complaint against his version of things. He closes, “Why can’t we just accept the creation account as it is?” And I agree, why can’t we accept the creation account just as it is?
Readers should log on to http://www.ageoftheuniverse.com where everything is fully addressed. There you can read chapter one and proceed further to your own conclusions. Having carefully read Mr. DeRemer’s best arguments, I am forced to conclude that my book is clear, plain, straightforward, completely free of any Scripture twisting and I have misinterpreted nothing. Why be intellectual masochists? Sometimes I wonder if YEC people would prefer the misery of defending a 10,000 year old universe and earth rather than to accept this utterly simple solution, which is Scripturally and scientifically sound. This simple interpretation, understandable to small children, does not require an old universe but allows it, and thereby solves all of creationist’s major problems and, by the way, it will not go away.
October 3rd, 2005
The book review by Frank DeRemer is at least the third article published by Answers in Genesis criticizing my book The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits? Two were feature length articles in the popular Creation magazine and the editors did not publish my responses.
Now a book review in the current TJ [published by Answers in Genesis] has appeared, which is not only a book review, but a launch for Mr. DeRemer’s view of Genesis one. I notice that with book reviews, replies are seldom, if ever, allowed, thus sheltering the writer and more importantly the readers as well as the publisher from rebuttal.