Evan Minton of the Cerebral Faith Blog recently asked for my opinion of his article "Why The Calendar Day Interpretation Of Genesis One Is Exegetically Untenable." Evan presented four problems that he saw with the young earth view of Genesis, and I thought that my responses to his problems would be helpful to my readers. Go ahead and read through Evan's article and then check out my response below.
"Problem 1: Trees don't grow in a day"
Here, your error is that you have assumed that the Hebrew word דָּשָׁא (dasha) has an inherent temporal limitation, but that is simply not the case. This word does not place any limit on the length of time required. It is merely a reference to the concept of growing plants.
In order to say that the events described in Genesis 1:11-12 could not have occurred in a single day, you must first assume that the events in this passage could only have occurred via processes that are at work in the earth today. But once again, this is simply not the case. We can see from the text itself that there is at least one insurmountable difference between the events described in Genesis 1:11-12 and our observations of similar events which occur today. That difference is abiogenesis.
Genesis 1:11-12 speaks of the earth bringing forth the plants. It does not speak of the plants coming from seeds as is the current process but rather of the plants being produced by the ground itself. This is not possible today, so if we were to assume that the events of the third day of creation proceeded in an identical fashion as similar events would occur today, then we would have to conclude that the events of that day did not occur at all. Bare ground does not bring forth plants on its own today. Therefore, if Genesis 1:11-12 followed the same processes acting in the earth today, then the bare ground did not bring forth plants on its own back then either, and the entire account must be false.
Now, we know that God created life from non-life at some point in time, and thus we know that the description of plants being brought forth by the bare ground is still essentially true in spite of the fact that such an event would be impossible to duplicate today. It is therefore unreasonable to conclude that the events of Genesis 1 must have proceeded in accordance with processes currently at work in the earth today. Such a conclusion would lead to the absurd result of claiming that God could not have caused the earth to produce plants at all.
On the other hand, if we allow that God had processes available to Him (such as abiogenesis) which are not at work in the earth today, then we must also allow that God was not bound by the limitations of the processes working today (such as the slowness of plant growth). Thus, your first problem is not an exegetical objection to the young earth view but rather an eisegetical objection. The problem only exists if you insert the limitations of current natural processes into your understanding of a text describing the creative power of God.
"Problem 2: Hitting The YEC Interpretation Where The Sun Don't Shine (part 1)"
Once again, your error is one of eisegesis. Nowhere does the Scripture state that the light created on day 1 was the light of the sun. That is something that you have read into the text, not something which you have concluded from the text. The actual account given in Genesis 1 clearly states that the light was created first and that the sun and other stars were created several days later. You may not understand how such a process could have occurred, but you cannot use your lack of understanding as grounds for your interpretation and call that exegesis.
Now, let me demonstrate that the existence of visible light to create a discernible period of night and day is not very far fetched at all. In fact, this concept is so simple that objection to it betrays a very antiquated and anti-scientific understanding of visible light.
Visible light is nothing more than a specific range of electromagnetic radiation. The sun is not required in order to obtain visible light. All that is required is the presence of the specific range of electromagnetic radiation.
To create light and separate that light from the darkness in a way that creates a visibly discernible night and day, God could have merely caused particles of matter in space on one side of the earth to glow with electromagnetic radiation within the visible spectrum. To form the sun later, God could have simply coalesced these particles into a single sphere.
If we take additional statements from Genesis 1 into consideration, we could surmise that God may have energized the surface of half of the liquid sphere that was described in verse 2. This would give a day side and a night side to the sphere. Then, when God separated the waters on the surface of the sphere from the waters further inside of the sphere in verses 6 and 7, He could have used the radiation from one half of the outer sphere as the day and the absence of radiation on the other half of the outer sphere as the night. And finally, God could have created the sun just as the radiation from the outer sphere began to wane thereby localizing the source of visible light in the sun. This is just one of several possibilities that your "problem" fails to consider.
"Problem 3: Hitting The YEC Interpretation Where The Sun Don't Shine (Part 2)"
The error in problem 3 is the same as that in problem 2. There are methods of generating light without heat, but most visible light is accompanied by heat. Therefore, all God would have to do in order to prevent the plants from dying because of the absence of the sun's heat would be to use a form of light production that also produces heat.
Additionally, the water mentioned in verse 2 would not be water but rather ice if there weren't some form of heat source present from the very beginning. This could have been geothermal heat radiating out from the earth's core. In fact, the core of the earth is currently burning at a temperature of about 6,000 degrees Celsius. That's actually hotter than the surface of the sun which has an temperature of about 5,500 degrees Celsius.
To claim the removal of the sun would produce instant death by freezing on the earth is more than just a bit far fetched.
"Problem 4: Too Many Events Occur On Day 6"
This problem can be divided into two parts - first, the planting of the Garden of Eden, and second, the naming of the animals. The error in the first part of the problem has already been addressed in my response to problem 1, so I'll focus on the error of the second part having to do with the naming of the animals.
The error in the second part of your problem here is two-fold. First, you have eisegetically forced the Linnaean classification system onto the biblical text. And Second, you have misrepresented the number of animals that needed to be named even if Adam had used the Linnaean system.
In regards to the first error, let me point out that your use of the term "mammal" reveals that you are relying on a classification system from the 18th century AD in your interpretation of a text that was written about 4,000 years earlier. The Bible does not use the Linnaean system because the Linnaean system did not exist at the time that the Bible was written.
Leviticus 11 identifies 4 classes of animals that are referenced throughout Scripture. They are: beasts, fish, fowl, and creeping things. We do not know exactly which animals would fall into which category, but we do know that these categories differ significantly from their Linnaean counterparts since the Bible places the bat in the fowl category and the whale in the fish category. We do not know where creatures like the dinosaurs would fit in this system, but we can assume that, at the very least, the sea dwelling dinosaurs would be included in the fish category and the flying dinosaurs would be included in the fowl category. Whether the other dinosaurs would be classified as beasts or as creeping things (where most of the reptiles mentioned in Scripture are classified) we simply do not know. To take the Linnaean system from the 18th century AD and force it onto the Bible which clearly uses a different system of classification would be a textbook example of eisegesis.
But let's move on to the second error. You claimed that Adam would have to name 14,600 species in order to name all of the mammals and birds. Assuming for sake of argument that Adam did use the Linnaean system, there is no reason to assume that he would have named the animals at the species level. He could have named the various genera instead. There are currently 1,258 genera of mammals in the Linnaean system and 2,217 genera of birds. If Adam had named the animals at this level, he would only have needed 10 hours to do so at a rate of one name every 10 seconds, but even that is more than the text requires.
Genesis 2 does not say that Adam named all of the mammals. It doesn't even say that he named all of the beasts. According to verse 19, Adam only gave names to the "beasts of the field." This is a subclassification of the beast category, and it would seem to refer only to the creatures of the plains. This is obviously a much smaller set of animals than the entire mammalia class of the Linnaean system, and the use of this subclassification reveals that the number of animals which Adam named on the sixth day was significantly smaller than the 14,600 which you have claimed.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)