God called the light “day,” and He called the darkness “night.” Evening came, and then morning: the first day.

(Genesis 1:5, HCSB)

 

Bible scholars have been trying for a hundred years or more to force the notions of evolution into the Bible. The most basic ploy is to insist that creation took more than six literal days to accomplish, and modern “higher critics” have devised countless magical tricks with which to fool the average Christian. This ploy is essentially a variation of the classic “shell game,” by which a con artist quickly moves and mixes three inverted cups, under one of which he has hidden a marble. By switching and sliding and shuffling those cups, he hopes to distract his sucker from seeing what he’s actually doing with his hands — which is to remove the marble altogether so that the sucker can’t win the bet.

The higher critics play this shell game with Genesis 1 by claiming that the word “day” does not refer to a 24-hour period of time, but actually means “a great age” or “an undetermined period.” Of course, the higher critics have determined what that period is, and it is not 24 hours. They slide their shells around by giving this notion different names at different times. One day, they call it the “Gap Theory;” the next day they call it the “day/age theory;” today they’re calling it the “framework hypothesis;” tomorrow they’ll call it something different but equally meaningless.

The basic principle behind this trick is to suggest that God took billions of years to create the universe, not six literal 24-hour days. To pull off the trick, the higher critics tell their suckers that the Hebrew word translated “day” (yom, as in Yom Kippur) can mean many different things: it can mean a literal 24-hour day, or it can mean a very great period of time, or it can mean an epoch or “age,” or it can even refer to a period of unspecified duration. (Don’t worry, they won’t leave that timeframe unspecified for long — it’s just a shell game, remember, designed to distract you from their real agenda.)

We use the word “day” in a similar manner in English; it is not something specific to Hebrew. We speak of “the day of horse power” to refer to a period of time — en epoch — prior to the invention of the automobile. We speak of “Abe Lincoln’s day” to refer to the years when Lincoln was active in politics. We use the buzz phrase “back in the day” to refer to some unspecified period in the past, or the phrase “when that day comes” to refer to some unspecified period in the future. And, of course, we use the word to refer to a 24-hour period, a specific day of the week.

I want to underscore the fact that these uses of the word are common in ordinary speech, because this demonstrates that it can be understood by common, ordinary people. We do not need a higher critic standing by to help us understand what someone means by “day” because we are fully capable of discerning that meaning ourselves. We understand the intended meaning of “day” by considering the context in which it is used. But by pontificating on the Hebrew word yom as used in Genesis 1, the higher critics hope to distract their readers from considering context and seduce them into thinking that there’s something magically different about Hebrew which only the enlightened can comprehend.

A second grader could comprehend what Moses means in Genesis 1 when he speaks of days. First, the simple context urges the reader to understand that Moses is discussing literal days of 24 hours each, not unspecified periods of time, as he continually refers to each period of creation as “the first day” and “the second day” and so forth. Moses further underscores this, just in case there is any doubt in the reader’s mind, by specifying that each day was characterized by “a morning” and “an evening.”

This might be comparable to a person saying, “It took me three days — morning, noon, and night — to finish this job.” The context of that sentence makes it perfectly clear that the speaker means literal 24-hour days, not unspecified periods of time. But if that isn’t clear enough, Moses goes a step further by numbering the days, speaking of “the first day,” “the second day,” and so forth. Indeed, this numbering sequence accomplishes two purposes: it makes the meaning clear that the “days” are 24-hours long, and it underscores that Moses is going in chronological order.

This second element becomes very important when our modern Gnostics attempt to trick us into thinking that the “days” are millions of years long, because many problems instantly arise if we try to change Moses’ intended meaning in Genesis 1. For example, Moses tells us that plant life was created on day 3 (v. 11-13), but the sun was not created until day 4 (v. 14-19). Plants and trees and the grass of the field can all survive for one day without any sunlight, but they cannot survive for a million bazillion years — and it’s the “million bazillion years” that our Gnostic critics are determined to find in Genesis 1.

So to overcome the fact that the text so patently cannot mean “an unspecified period of time,” our Gnostics play another trick in the shell game: they tell us that Genesis 1 is not intended to be understood chronologically! That’s right, folks: even though Moses goes to great pains to specify that it was day 1 or day 5, the Gnostics tell us that this is merely a literary device, that Moses is pretending to tell the story chronologically, but he expects his readers to interpret the text in some different order!

This is where they get today’s name of “Framework Hypothesis” for this ancient shell game. They pretend that there exists such a literary genre as “make-believe chronological story-telling which should be interpreted as non-chronological,” but needless to say, no such genre exists — except in the illusions of Pharaoh’s Magicians.

It’s time for God’s people to walk away from these con men and to stop being befuddled by their shell games.

 

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