Sunday, January 11, 2009

Three Views on the Days of Creation: Framework

Science and Christianity              Dale Partin               January 11, 2009


Lesson 14


We continued the study of The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation.  We previously studied the “24 hour per day” view of Duncan and Hall.  Today we concluded the study of the Framework View of Irons and Kline. 


Brief review of last week:


The Framework view: what is it?   Irons and Kline

This view teaches that Genesis 1 only provides a theological framework for understanding God’s creation of the world.  It is not trying to tell us whether the “days” were 24 hours long or ages long.  That is not the point.  The things described are historical events, but the sequence and chronology of them are not relevant to the story that is being told.  The created things are arranged by topic to make a theological point, not to tell us the order and timing of their creation.  Again, the story is arranged to give us a framework in which to understand God’s message.  Three basic points are made to define and defend this view.  Most of the first point was covered in class today.  The rest of it will be given below.  This point is that the Genesis 1 account is structured as two triads of days followed by a Sabbath, and that the second triad (days 4 to 6) is actually a different perspective on the first triad (days 1 to 3).


Point ONE:  Two triads in submission to the Creator

            Creation kingdoms                        Creature kings

Day 1 Light                                      Day 4 Luminaries

Day 2 Sky and seas                       Day 5 Sea and winged creatures

Day 3 Dry land, vegetation          Day 6 Land animals, man


                                    The Creator King

                                    Day 7 Sabbath


Thus, the luminaries (Sun, Moon) “rule” or “govern” day and night.  The waters “teem” with creatures, and the birds “fly above the earth, and across the expanse of the sky.”  They are told to “be fruitful and increase in number”.  This is dominion.  Similarly, land creatures were made to move on (“rule”) the ground.  Finally, man was made to rule over all the rest of creation.  God rules over all.  Days 4 to 6 are the same as days 1 to 3, but the emphasis on days 1 to 3 is on the created “kingdoms”, and the emphasis on days 4 to 6 is on the “creature kings” that rule over them.


Thus, the story is about God creating kingdoms and creatures to rule over them, as God rests on His throne, ruling over all.  This is a theme that is repeated in the seven day week and in several other things in Scripture, which are given as 7 days, 7 weeks, 7 generations..., or multiples of 7.  This is so, even if the numbers do not strictly add up to 7.  This is not science; it is a message describing God and His creation.


How old is the earth and universe?

How old is the earth and universe?  The Framework View says that we need to find that out from General Revelation and science, since the Bible does not say.  Although many who hold to the Framework View accept that the earth is very old, one could hold to a younger earth interpretation of nature and still hold to the Framework view.  The Framework View does not bind the conscience of the Church to any position on the age of the earth.  The 24 hourand day-age views both understand that the Gen 1 text is chronological and sequential, while the framework view does not.  In the Framework view, the purpose of Gen 1 is covenantal and redemptive.  It is primarily about theology, not science.


From here on, the material presented today will be summarized.


Point TWO:  “Because it had not rained”.

5and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6but streams [mist/rain-clouds] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground  Gen 2  (text in red is Kline’s preferred translation).

The point here is that ordinary providence (means) are needed (rain, springs of water and/or human agriculture) to make plants grow, even during the creation period.  Everything was not miraculous.  No rain and no humans to irrigate, therefore no plants.  This implies that, in general, during the creation period, ordinary means were in force between creation events.


With the principle of using Scripture to interpret Scripture, Irons and Kline then reason that ordinary sunlight was present on day 1, since there is no statement that the light was supernatural in the text.  Thus, this reinforces the Framework View that the similarity between days 1 and 4 is real.  That is, the Sun was created on day 1.  The 24 hour view that the light on days 1 to 3 was supernatural is thus not favored.  Positing supernatural lighting on day 1 is regarded as an exegetical presupposition of the 24 hour view. 


[Note however, the day-age view also agrees that the Sun was present on the first day, so this is not a problem for it.  In fact, the same argument could be made in support of it.]


Point THREE:  Two Register Cosmology

In the Framework View, there are two created “registers”.  The upper register encompasses invisible dimensions of “heaven” where God and angels dwell.  The lower register, “earth”, encompasses the visible dimensions in which we live, including the planet Earth, Sun, Moon, stars, etc.


15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  Col 1 


Heaven is the invisible dimension of the created cosmos.  While God is described as dwelling there, he is far “bigger” than it is.


The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.  Ps 115:16


This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.  Is 66:1


When heaven is “opened”, we see God enthroned in the midst of heavenly beings.  Here is what Isaiah saw.


1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  Is 6


Because it is invisible to us, believers ordinarily perceive the upper register only by faith. 


So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Cor 4:18


At times, God has given his people supernatural perception to see the upper register, as with Isaiah.  Jacob saw the “gate of heaven” Gen 28:16-17. Stephen “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”  Acts 7:55-56.  Elisha’s servant was enabled to see that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire” 2 Kings 6:17.  There are other examples, and many believers would say that the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits still exists today.


Thus, the upper and lower registers relate to each other spatially, not as different locations, but as different dimensions of the one cosmos.  We cannot get there by spaceship or see it with telescopes.  Christ is seated in the upper register as King and Priest.  From there, he will come with angels to bring judgment and to unite the two registers.  The New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and the dwelling place of God shall be with men.  Rev 21:2-3, 10-11.


Application to the Framework View:

These things can be appreciated apart from the Framework View.  The upper register is an archetype, and the lower register is an analogous replica of the upper register.  Lower register features can be used to describe upper register realities.  Clouds” are used to describe the Son of Man coming with “the clouds of heaven”,  Dan 7:13.  A “rainbow” overarches the divine presence, Ezek 1:28, Rev 4:3.  Lightning” and “thunder” are sometimes associated with the upper register, Ps 29:3, 7.  The “wind” is God’s “chariot”, Ps 18:9-14.  Stars” are figures for angels, Is 14:13, Rev 1:20, 12:4.  By analogy, Scripture uses the language of the “days” and “evenings and mornings” of creation describe upper register reality (heavenly time).


Upper and lower register analogies. 


First analogy:  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.


In Gen 1:1, the heavens are the upper register, and the earth is the lower register (1). Support for this comes from verses cited earlier.  The authors also do exegesis to show that in other instances, heaven and earth can both be used to describe the lower register (2).  These two uses of the terms are diagrammed below.


Upper register – Invisible Cosmos (Heaven1)


Lower register – Visible Cosmos (Earth1)

            Upper: Star-studded Sky (Heaven2)

            Lower: Planet (Earth2)


Second analogy: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over thewaters.”  Gen 1:2


The Spirit of God here is upper register, and the waters are lower register.


Third analogy:  There are many “fiat” commands and fulfillments.  “God said…and it was so.”  Gen 1

God speaks commands (upper register), and they are fulfilled (lower register).


Fourth analogy, “Let us make man” Gen 1:26.

While “us” is typically taken as referring to the Trinity, Irons and Kline take it to refer to God and the heavenly council.  Thus, God (upper register) speaks of making man (lower register).


Fifth analogy, God rested.  Gen 2:2. 

God rests in the upper register, but this rest has an earthly, lower register parallel.  God sanctifies the seventh day for man’s weekly rest in lower register time.  Just as God’s keeping vigil on the first Passover night was the archetype for Israel’s repeated observance of the Passover vigil (Ex 12:42), so God’s Sabbath rest became the pattern for man to follow. 

With these five analogies, the authors argue, it is not unreasonable to think that the “days” and “mornings and evenings” are lower register analogies for upper register time.


Upper register time?

God’s seventh day of rest is everlasting, since it symbolizes him sitting on his throne, ruling.

4b And on the seventh day God rested from all his work. 

 9There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Heb 4:4b, 9-10

These verses speak of God’s rest as ongoing, so that it can still be entered.  If it is still the seventh day of God’s rest, then this refers to upper register time. If this is upper register time, then the other days are, too.


What is upper register time?

Answer:  it is real time, but God has not revealed how to compare it quantitatively to lower register time.


What about the Fourth Commandment?

We are to labor for six days, and then keep the seventh day as a Sabbath.  These are literal, 24 hour days, aren’t they?

17It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested (literally, naphashwas refreshed, NASB).’” Ex 31.  This word, naphash, is used elsewhere to refer to people who were weary and needed to be refreshed.  Does anyone think that God is literally weary, or tired?  If God is not literally weary, must the seven days be literal? 

This is anthropomorphic language.  It is analogy, not identity of meaning.


What about the word, yom?

The day-age view argues that yom “day” in Genesis 1 refers to a long period of (earthly) time.  However, the Framework View holds that yom denotes an ordinary, lower register, solar day.  Yet it is being used in an analogy to describe an upper register unit of time that is not defined by the Earth’s rotation with respect to the Sun.  Similar considerations apply to the term, “evening and morning”.  This does not necessarily mean that events really unfolded on earth in six, 24 hour days.  This is lower register language used by analogy to describe upper register reality.


Summary of the Framework View

Thus, there are three main lines of support for the Framework View:

The two triads (nonsequential recapitulation)

“Because it had not rained” (ordinary processes occurred between creation events)

Two register cosmology (many analogies between heavenly and earthly realities, including the analogies of “days” and “evenings and mornings”)


“Divine work is done in divine time.”


Next Sunday, we will consider responses to the Framework View, and the reply of Irons and Kline.