by Jack Hoehn
These comments are on the current Sabbath School lessons on Origins and attempt to open the conversation to a broader understanding of Creation than simply Young Earth Creationism.
Introduction Lesson 3: “ Why did He choose to make the seven-day time cycle that we call a week?”
The Creator created Time when he created “the beginning.” From the moment of “the big bang,” things began to happen in a sequence that goes in only one direction. It starts at point A and moves on to point B, then to point C. Time is linear and does not go back to point A. “In the beginning” is the beginning of time. Creation of the universe was Creation Day Zero, and if our science is correct by observing the universe it is now approximately day 13.7 Billion x 365 days old!
To mark Time when beginning the creation of an earth suitable for complex life, God creates days, the darkness/light cycle he named day and night. Earth days are designated by the rotation of earth on its axis, so this event might have happened when God had created a light source (“let light be”) like the sun (perhaps at that time not visible due to atmospheric conditions from the surface of our planet?) and the rotation of our planet (which appears to have been more rapid then than it is now suggesting “24 hour days” would not be correct at that time).
The Creator then created months, or moons, designed by the phases of the moon. The wonderful and protective moon rotates about earth, but it does not rotate about its own axis, but amazingly it is locked so that the same familiar face of the moon always faces us. And the moon, although much smaller, is created with the exact same “apparent size” as the sun, permitting us to study the sun when it is eclipsed!
The Creator creates seasons and years, designed by the rotation of the earth around the sun, and the precise 23.439281° degree angle of tilt we have, which explains why we have four seasons each year.
The Sabbath and its week is a measure of time, not measured by any physical object or activity. The Sabbath is truly a historical memorial, a monument to God’s 6 Day creation and subsequent rest.
A monument is an image of its object. The statue of a man on his horse can be bigger than the real man, or smaller. The creation of a human life takes 9 months from conception, but the memorial of that long process is just one annual birth-day.
So the monumental, memorial Sabbath and its human work week commemorates God’s 6 Great Works of Creation , not necessarily being the same length as the original but following the same pattern.
Our work is to be timed into a cycle of 6 days followed by a Sabbath, like God’s work was timed into a cycle of 6 Creation Events followed by the ceasing from Creation. Creation days and week days surely could be the same length, but there is a lot of physical evidence suggesting that God’s Creation Days are longer than earth days. The Bible does teach that God and Heaven do not necessarily measure time as we do (2 Peter 3:8). I now think of the creation Days as heaven days whose duration I do not know, as opposed to our week of earth days. (Blog https://atoday.org/article/1488/blogs/hoehn-jack/2012/god-s-days-and-our-days discusses this in more detail.)
Lesson for Sunday January 13: “A second possibility is that the sun, moon, and stars were appointed their functions at that time.”
As the lesson humbly notes, there are several possibilities preventing dogmatism and rigidity on how the Sun appears 4 Days after light is created, and how the moon and stars (most created during Creation Day 0) are appointed in their vast array, are clearly areas where we can let science help us choose the best understanding of the Bible text.
If the Mosaic Creation story is an explanation of the organization of Creation into Time, Sea/ Sky, and Land/Plants then it makes sense that God creates Time on Day one, and reveals his Timekeepers on Day four; Sea/Sky on Day 2 and fish and birds Day 5; Land/Plants on Day 3 and animals and man on Day 6. This again suggests we need not necessarily read the Genesis 1 story as chronology but we can read it as an interpretation of Creation. We can see the short Genesis story not a revelation of the mechanics or chronology of creation, but a revelation of the character of the Creator. God is purposeful, organized, and good. God is the Intelligent Designer. He has provided spaces and filled them for our good.
Lesson for Monday January 14: “God apparently gave each of His creatures the potential to produce a great variety of various offspring, further adding to the diversity of the Creation.”
Yes indeed, why do things adapt, change, adjust, evolve? Because God designed them to do this; it's in the design of the life code, DNA. Genetic science shows mechanisms created in the DNA allowing for genetic manipulations to happen in a way that can create new creatures from old. Although change can be random, the mechanisms are not random but designed to make change possible. The ability to change, adapt, adjust, evolve is intelligently designed. Instead of trying to deny the fact that life evolves, let's credit the ability to change and adapt in a useful way back to the Creator. (See this blog for expansion on this idea.
Wednesday January 16: “God commands us to give one-seventh of our lives to the remembrance of the act of Creation.”
If creation was rapid and sudden, happening ever-so-quickly in just 144 solar hours, why does God command us to give one-seventh of our lives to study a short week? Why are we all to devote 52 days a year to the study just of 7 days? If we sabbatize from birth to death at say 90, one could watch the whole full-length, unedited 144-hour movie of Creation’s wonderful events 780 times during a lifetime of Sabbaths!
If on the other hand the Genesis 1 is introducing us to a say 13.7 Billion years of universe creation, and say perhaps 4.56 Billion years of earth creation, then the command to spend a good portion of our lives trying to understand and admire creation becomes much more reasonable.
Isn’t this perhaps why some humans are not satisfied with merely 1 day a week to study God’s handiwork? Some study the creation 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. We call these devotees scientists. In a way scientists are sabbatizing 7 days a week in remembering, admiring, and trying to understand the acts of creation! The good news is that, the creation is so complex, so wonderful, so magnificent, so unexpected, so surprising, so functional, and so sensible, they never run out of things to admire and enjoy. The Sabbath command to remember creation every week, suggests to me a whole lot more to think about than a single short 144 hour week.
Edited statement: “So crucial to
our relationship with God MY RESPECT FOR MY OWN OPINION is our trust of God and MY INTERPRETATION of His Word. If we can’t trust WHAT I THINK the Word of God MUST MEAN on something as foundational IN MY OPINION and as explicitly stated IT APPEARS ON FIRST READING as the Genesis Creation in six literal days, what can we trust Him OUR TRADITIONAL BELIEF on?”
How about this: Trust God to present things simply in the childhood of religion and science and more fully as we have matured and become capable of advanced truths?
Finally the lesson has one more attempt to make a short chronology of Genesis the only option for Adventist creationists by adopting the position of Bible critics and skeptics!
Friday January 18. “Also, if the days in Genesis represented long epochs, one would expect to find a succession in the fossil record that matches the succession of the living organisms created in the successive six Creation “days.” Thus, the first fossils should be plants, which were created on the third “day.” Next should be the first water animals and the air animals. Finally, we should find the first land animals. The fossil record does not match this sequence. Water creatures come before plants, and land creatures come before air creatures.”
This is most remarkable! Our author now joins the infidels and skeptics we were warned against, and uses their criticisms of Genesis 1, in the service of his one week chronology! “Genesis does not match the fossil record,” they claim! Why would a Bible supporter join the Bible critics?
1.) Plant life must have begun before animal life inasmuch as the earliest animals eat plants, so starting with plant life in Genesis does not seem at all out of order for Creation Day 3.
“A new discovery provides a clearer and more potent argument on the side of biblical accuracy. The credibility of the third creation day has just become easier to defend. An international team of paleobiologists has determined that an extinct plant, Archaeopteris, matches the definition of "tree." It produces free spores very similar to the seeds and fruits of today's trees. How old is this early, perhaps the first, tree? It dates back 370 million years, more than a hundred million years before the first dinosaurs.”
These fossils support the accuracy of Genesis 1:11 in describing Day Three events: "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees . . ." While true that fruit bearing trees more suitable for mankind do not appear in the fossil records till closer to the time of man’s creation, the Genesis 1 outline still can be seen to match the fossil record.
3.) The fossil record clearly records the sudden beginnings of animal life in the sea on Creation Day 5. The well-known Cambrian Explosion of created life forms fits Genesis exactly. Flying dinosaurs and flying insects also show in fossils from this era.
4.) Flying birds related to the dinosaurs are seen next in fossils of the Jurassic along with the mammals supporting the Genesis appearance of land creatures on Creation Day 6.
So there we have it: plants—sea creatures including some flying creatures—land animals—and lastly humans. While Genesis 1 may be only an outline of the details of Creation, and may in fact not be a true chronology of creation but more an analysis of creation, the broad outline of Genesis 1 would seem to generally agree with the fossil record. I am disappointed that our authors side so quickly and firmly with Bible skeptics and infidels in claiming it does not!
(See https://atoday.org/article/1557/blogs/hoehn-jack/2012/the-false-burden-of-time for an attempt to show a general harmonization of long-earth creationism as outlined by Genesis 1 with the associated scientific evidence.)