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Book Review - God- or Gorilla?, Appendices, Part I

This entry is part of a series. For a bit of an introduction and an index of all entries in the series, go here.

God or Gorilla PicThis installment covers the first appendix, Note on the Word "Day".

McCann has made it clear that he accepts the Bible as accurate, but he's also an old Earth creationists. So, how does he reconcile an old Earth with the 6 day creation story from the first chapter of Genesis? Well, he doesn't think that 'day' means an actual 24 hour period. He thinks it means something else.

According to the Bible itself, the first three "days" of Genesis could not have been solar days in the strict sense of the term, because the sun itself was not created until the "fourth day."(McCann 333)

Well, I'm glad he's acknowledged this. Let's see how he continues.

How can the rationalists insist that the biblical word for "day," as used in Genesis, means a period of twenty-four hours, when in the second chapter, fourth verse, the entire period of "six days" is referred to as "one day"? (McCann 333)

I've already mentioned the discrepancy between the first and second chapters of Genesis. If I were McCann, I wouldn't be focusing on 'day'. I'd try to explain the chronological discrepancies. In fact, I think that 'rationalists' would say that there isn't a discrepancy in the use of the word 'day', but rather that they're two completely separate creation myths, that were both included in the Hebrew scripture.

McCann does make a point about non-literal uses of words.

The word "day" is obviously here a synonym for "time," in which sense it is frequently employed in scriptural phrases; as the "day of vanity," the "day of tribulation," etc. (McCann 333)

Here's a case where McCann's preconception that everything in the Bible must be accurate is biasing his reading of the book.

But to show the rationalists that the word "day," as used in Genesis, cannot be limited to a term of twenty-four hours it is only necessary to refer to chapter two, verse seventeen: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

Now, according to the genealogy, age and death of the patriarchs from Adam unto Noah, as narrated in chapter five, verses three and four, Adam lived 930 years.

Here is proof, in the Bible itself, and in the very book of Genesis quoted by the rationalists, that "a day" consisted of the hundreds of years between the fall of Adam and his death. (McCann 333-334)

Why can't it simply be a mistake? The Bible was not written as a whole, set in stone tablets, unchanging throughout history. It's a kludge. There are many books in it, and pretty good evidence that even individual books have multiple sources (such as the separate creation stories in Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis). The books we have now are copies of copies of copies, subjected to translation errors, to boot.

McCann once again makes a case for 'day' being used in a non-literal sense.

Entirely apart from its significance of time, secular historians who deal neither with religion nor science often refer to something done as a "day." They speak of the "day of Waterloo." The Bible employs the word "day" in the same fashion - the "day of the Lord," the "day of great wrath." As the "day of Waterloo" means the same thing, the act, operation, work or performance, regardless of duration, so the analogous terms "evening" and "morning" may signify the completion of one act and the beginning of another, just as moderns speak of the "dawn of prosperity" or the "evening of life." (McCann 334)

My biggest problem with this, is the larger context of how 'day' is used in the first chapter of Genesis. It's not simply, 'on the first day, Elohim created these things, and on the second day he created these other things, etc.' The bible actually says, "And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day." It really is presented in a way that makes it seem as if the writers intended 'day' to be understood as a 24 hour period.

Proceed to Appendices, Part II

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