A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks, semi-popular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general, these have not been found–yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks […] (David Raup 1981: 832, Professor of Geology University of Chicago, Chicago Field Museum, emphasis mine)
The primary reason that there is any question regarding the length of the creation days of Genesis is due to many people’s belief that evolution is a fact, and since it is a fact, then a literal reading of Genesis must not be valid. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the ancient Israelites were simplistic and merely ignorant of true science, which is precisely what medical doctor William Keen did in his 1922 book entitled I Believe inand Evolution. Keen’s book may be somewhat dated, but the attitude he championed has not changed. In fact, we could argue it has become even more entrenched today.
Fully convinced that evolution was an established fact, Keen argued, “A fundamental difficulty with the so called ‘Fundamentalists’ is that they fail to recognize the fact that the ‘Children of Israel’…were living in the intellectual childhood of the human race” (Keen 1922: 7). He then goes on with his biased and incorrect version of ancient history by stating, “…their minds were cast in a poetic mold, their literature was permeated with imagery, metaphors and parables. Bards, priests and prophets delivered it to them. No scientists then existed” (Keen 1922: 8).
Neither of Keen’s observations is based on historical fact. Unfortunately, his belief in evolution has skewed his understanding of history, though his perspective is consistent with the evolutionary model. Simply stated, the evolutionary model proposes that life forms continue to get more and more complex and so too does man’s sophistication and understanding of the world. While mankind is more technologically advanced today than ever before, and hence we have more and usually better data to work with, ancient man was by no means primitive, nor was man at that time in the “intellectual childhood of the human race.”
The age before Abraham (approximately 2000 B.C.) saw amazing applications of scientific principles based on math, geometry, physics etc. The ancient civilizations of the time (the Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians and Egyptians) were the ones who invented writing, an extremely complex concept not for the weak-minded. These civilizations first developed elaborate mathematical tables. It was even the Babylonians who preempted the Greek philosopher Pythagoras with his famous discovery known as the Pythagorean Theorem by approximately 1300 years (O’Connor and Robertson 2000b). These ancient peoples erected enormous pyramids and ziggurats, which to this day still defy some of our best engineering prowess — and they did so all without the aid of motorized machinery. They plotted the course of the stars with incredible precision and devised extremely accurate calendars. They wrote music and plays for entertainment, kept immaculate business records that have survived until today, and even had a postal system. This supposedly primitive culture, to which Keen referred, codified extensive laws, which in many countries, law students are still required to study.
Keen is equally incorrect in claiming that there were no scientists. Let’s consider some evidence that shows that ancient man was actually quite advanced and therefore was not mentally primitive as Keen as suggested. If men were not mentally primitive, then they were able to faithfully and accurately pass down the creation account given to them by God.
What is Science?
The Collins English Dictionary defines science as “the systematic study of the nature and behavior of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment, and measurement, and the formulation of laws to describe these facts in general terms.” This description certainly applies to what we narrowly define as science today. But the word science comes from Latin and simply means knowledge. This meaning is reflected in the Webster’s Dictionary 1828 definition, “In a general sense, knowledge, or certain knowledge; the comprehension or understanding of truth or facts by the mind.” The Bible contains many astute observations about nature that demonstrate that the authors were very observant of the world around them and came to conclusions about their world.
In the book of Job, we find a statement that claims something that was not universally accepted in the ancient world. Whereas the countries surrounding Israel believed that the world was either floating on water or founded upon the body of a dead or living god, the Bible describes the earth suspended in empty space: “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing. [al-bli-ma literally: on-without-what]” (Job 26:7).
Ecclesiastes 1 verses 6 and 7, thought to have been written by Solomon, make keen observations regarding the circulation of the atmosphere and the water cycle:
The wind goes toward the south,
And turns around to the north;
The wind whirls about continually,
And comes again on its circuit.
All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
To the place from which the rivers come,
There they return again. (Ecclesiastes1:6, 7)
We take these passages for granted since they communicate things that are fairly common knowledge today, but these passages demonstrate an extraordinary understanding of the world – all without the benefit of high-tech measuring instruments. At the most, these are proofs that God inspired the words of the Bible; and at the least, they demonstrate good science on man’s behalf. Consider another example:
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:8)
The fact that “the seas were circulating systems with interaction between wind and water” was not known until the late 1800’s yet the Bible contained this truth almost 3000 years earlier than modern science. In essence, William Keen and those in agreement today who claim that the Bible is just a collection of myths and therefore we need not take it literally but instead must interpret the Bible by way of modern science, have made a grave mistake. The Bible is reliable and scientific. Certainly, if indeed inspired by God, then it must be accurate. However, if only inspired by men, then those men were first-rate scientists of their day. Dr. Keen’s thesis is certainly not unique, however. In fact, it seems that the number of individuals who claim, “I Believe in God and Evolution” only grows in spite of the authority and accuracy of the Bible.
On February 12, 2006 hundreds of churches around the United States observed Evolution Sunday, a celebration of the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin, in order to support the teaching of evolution in public schools. Evolution Sunday was the culmination of approximately two years of gathering signatures from over 10,000 clergy from many mainline churches who believe that evolution is an established fact. “At St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, the Rev. Patricia Templeton told the 85 worshipers […] ‘A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all’” (New York Times, Feb 13th 2006). A parishioner from that church commented in a similar fashion:
Observation, hypothesis and testing — that’s what science is, it’s not religion. Evolution is a fact. It’s not a theory. An example is antibiotics. If we don’t use antibiotics appropriately, bacteria become resistant. That’s evolution, and evolution is a fact. (ibid)
Unfortunately Rev. Patricia Templeton and her parishioners have misunderstood both the Bible and science. She is wrong in believing that the teaching of the Bible somehow requires us to close our minds – the Bible actually gives us the correct paradigm with which to properly understand the world. It tells us why people behave selfishly and sinfully, why there is disease and death, and why we see the scars of a global cataclysm known as the flood. The real scientific evidence, as we will see, supports the Bible.
The parishioner that made the above statement is wrong as well since he lacks a basic understanding of the difference between macro and Natural Selection. Natural Selection, speciation and adaptation, are embraced by essentially all Bible believers. The person referred to merely an example of how organisms adapt to their surroundings – a fact which is recognized by all. As noted, Darwin was correct in observing the change of the beaks of the finches. That, however, was all that he actually observed. The other aspects of his model are speculation and not based on “observation, hypothesis and testing,” the very requirements people claim the Bible leaves out.
Molecules-to-man evolution, that is to say the changing of one kind to another (reptile to bird, for instance), remains nothing more than a paradigm which has never been observed and cannot by any means be proven even after so many years of trying. It is not an established fact. Darwin himself even wrote in a letter to Asa Gray, a Harvard professor of biology, “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.”
Darwin was not the only “Darwinist” to recognize this point. L. H. Matthews wrote in the Introduction to Darwin’s (1971 edition) Origin of the Species:
The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on unproven theory. Is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation. Both are concepts which the believers know to be true, but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof.  (emphasis mine)
Matthews is by far not the only person to suggest such sentiments regarding the scarcity of evidence in support of the evolutionary model. Famed evolutionist Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, stated “The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of the fossils” (1990: 13). David M. Raup, paleontologist at the University of Chicago and curator and Dean of Science at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, likewise stated:
The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be. Darwin was completely aware of this. He was embarrassed by the fossil record because it didn’t look the way he predicted it would […]. Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. […] Ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as the result of more detailed information. (Raup 1979: 22-29 emphasis mine)
The Clergy Letter Project
The Clergy Letter Project from which the idea of Evolution Sunday came about issued the following statement (An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science) that sadly claims that the keystone and foundational passages of Genesis are nothing more than stories with a spiritual message and are not real historical events. The entire letter has been copied below:
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship betweenand creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth. (“An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science”, Clergy Letter Project, 2004, emphasis mine)
What Kind of Truths Are the Biblical Promises?
Whether or not religious truth is different than scientific truth is irrelevant; if something is indeed true, then it does not matter what category it falls into. The events as described in the Bible are either true or they are not; there can be no middle ground.
The very accounts that they are dismissing as being spiritual stories or allegories are, in fact, the very foundation of the Bible. For example, if the flood did not actually occur as Genesis declares, then the promise given by God “I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth…” (Isaiah 54:9) through the prophet Isaiah is worthless. If God based His promise on an event that did not really occur, then what assurance would outcast Israel have that some day God would no longer hide His face but restore them?
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the LORD, your Redeemer.
“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.
For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the LORD, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54:7-10 emphasis mine)
God is comparing the judgment of the earth by the flood with the judgment on Israel. Here He promises that just as the waters would no longer cover the earth, which is to say that the judgment would not happen again, so too was the promise that Israel’s judgment would pass. If the story of the flood is just a timeless story to teach us about God, what do we do with the promise that He made to Israel? If there was no real flood, was there also not a real judgment that fell on them? Clearly from biblical and secular history we know that is not true; Israel definitely was judged as we will see in the statements of Daniel, Jeremiah and the Chronicler. Later in chapter 11 we will look at some real-world evidence of that flood.
Furthermore, if we categorize the creation account, Adam and Eve, and Noah and the Flood as being merely figurative and non-literal stories that contain truths, all the while denying that they are in fact true in what they state about cosmology, history, and geology, then what do we do with the promise of redemption given to us concerning the current sinful condition of man? Is Jesus the fulfillment of that promise? Was there really ever a promise made? And if there was a promise made, then to whom was it made if not to the real, historical Adam and real, historical Eve? Gleason Archer stated well the importance of the Bible being true and accurate in all areas that it touches: “if the biblical record can be proved fallible in areas of fact that can be verified, then it is hardly to be trusted in areas where it cannot be tested.” (Archer 1982: 23)
Darwin Didn’t Want God’s Help
We should not use man’s observation of nature to interpret the Bible. Man sees things differently everyday and in a way that fits his best interests. The data concerning the origin of the universe are out there, but how we interpret those data is the true test. After having seen the historical and archeological confirmations of Scripture, we should therefore let Scripture be the starting point of our worldview. We ought not let man’s interpretation of nature be used to interpret Scripture.
Accepting the various facets of the evolutionary model as fact is the only reason for arguing that the creation days mean billions of years. Ironically, Darwinian evolution is diametrically opposed to God’s assisting in any way. It is given as a plausible mechanism for how we are here without any first cause, not how God might have done the job! There seems to have been no room for divine intervention in Darwin’s world. Darwin expert Neal Gillespie noted “Darwin clearly rejected Christianity and virtually all conventional arguments in defense of the existence of God and human immortality” (Gillespie 1974: 141).
Furthermore, Sir Arthur Keith stated in the introduction to the sixth edition (1872) of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection
[…] we see that Darwin’s aim was to replace a belief in special creation by a belief in evolution and in this he did succeed, as every modern biologist will readily admit. (Keith 1872: xvi-xvii)
Darwin himself, in Life and Letters of Charles Darwin published posthumously, describes the process by which he went from a belief in God to removing God from his world completely:
Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true. (Darwin 1896: 274-286)
Evidently, to grant room for evolution in Genesis is contrary to what Darwin advocated. If Darwin didn’t believe in Theistic Evolution, why should we?