A Matter of Days
One of the better writers in apologetics over recent years has been astrophysicist Hugh Ross. Ross has a program called Reasons to Believe that has been effective in reaching out to atheists and agnostics on the college level with material presented at an academic level. He has also accumulated a team of writers who do a good job with other disciplines related to apologetics. The thing that has gotten Ross more attention than anything else is that he is not a "young-earth creationist" and in fact has opposed dispensational creationists in an aggressive way. This book is an attack on young-earth claims.
Ross begins the book by giving a discussion of the origins of young earth creationism. People like Kent Hovind and John and Henry Morris and many others are mentioned by name, and put into a historical narrative. Ross essentially justifies the book by saying, "Whether a written doctrine or not, young-earth creationism as a tenet for Christian acceptance inflicts damage" (page 39), and one chapter consists of showing historically that this doctrine came from creeds.
The next thing Ross does is to look at the Hebrew and the whole concept of time in the Bible to show that the young-earth concept is not biblical. This is a pretty detailed discussion, and offers an interesting view of what the Bible really attempts to say about this subject. Questions about whether there was death in the "garden" and what man's role is are included and done in a good way. Chapters 14-17 deal with scientific evidence for an old cosmos, young-earth scientific claims, and the errors and problems of young-earth creationism as far as evidence is concerned. This is a very useful section and has some valid scientific objections. We have had many articles in this journal over the years which have pointed out some of the same things that Ross explains.
The last part of the book, starting with chapter 18, lays out Ross' belief that the days are not twenty-four hour periods and chapter 21 builds his own model of how the astronomical evidence fits the Genesis account. It is clearly done and explains a number of related issues such as genealogies and man's relationship to the question. There is a very useful chart on pages 248-249 that compares the questions of age both young and old with fields like anthropology, theology, and astronomy.
We do not share Ross' understandings about the days of Genesis. It has always been our position that the creation week has very little to do with the age of the Earth since there are so many undated and untimed periods before and after the week. The week itself deals, in our understanding, with specifically what the Bible says it deals with--not dinosaurs, platypuses, viruses, and a myriad of other creatures and events that Moses and his contemporaries could have had no knowledge of. It deals with man and the life forms that man knew at the time. The value of this book then, in our opinion, is not in the model that Ross gives which is a theological exercise, but rather with the treatment of young-earth creationism, its errors and problems with evidence. For those who want to make the length of the days of Genesis to be long periods of time, the book will be a great apologetic for their position. For the believers at large, the book will raise some excellent arguments against dispensational denominational creationism and its theories and hopefully will motivate them to form their own belief in a way that is consistent with both the evidence and the Hebrew of Genesis.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, SepOct05.