Apologist Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is pushing back after conservative commentator Matt Walsh recently released a lengthy video explaining why he is not a young earth creationist, but rather believes that the text of the Book of Genesis leaves room for interpretation as to how long a day was at the time that God created the heavens and the earth. Walsh also asserted that advocating for a young earth can “put obstacles in the way” from people coming to Christ because it pits faith against science.
“What genre is Genesis? Is it a science textbook? It is meant to be read as a precise scientific account of the origins of the universe? Is that why Genesis is there? Is that what God wants us to take from it?” Walsh asked in a video posted on Oct. 18.
“If you were to isolate Genesis and put it in a section of the bookstore by itself, would it be in the science section?” he continued. “Do you think that Genesis should or can be used as a reference for serious geological or cosmological study? Could a theoretical physicist kind of check his work by consulting the Bible?”
Walsh, a Roman Catholic, said Genesis is a theological work and not a scientific one, and that while he believes it is “100 percent true,” one has to know how to read it.
He noted that many Christians believe that Genesis outlines a literal six-day creation. Walsh agreed that the Bible says “day,” but said that he disagrees with the conclusion that it was a 24-hour day.
He pointed to day four of creation when God created lights in the firmament and argued that since day and night is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun, the use of the word “day” in Genesis prior to the creation of the sun, moon and stars doesn’t necessarily mean a 24-hour day.
“The Bible talks about days before there is a rotating earth … and before there’s a sun for the earth to rotate around,” Walsh said. “We’re not talking about a 24-hour day because such a thing does not yet exist.”
Genesis 1:16 states after noting in prior verses that there was morning and evening to comprise the day, “And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.”
Walsh said that in that first chapter of Genesis, God speaks at the beginning of each day, but the first and second verse don’t yet use the word “day.”
“God created the heavens and the earth at some point—in the beginning, whenever that was and we aren’t told when because it doesn’t matter at all, really … and then some time later, maybe billions of years, the first day began and there was light, etcetera,” he theorized. “It doesn’t say, ‘On the first day, God created the heavens and the earth.’ It says, ‘In the beginning, and then there was a first day.'”
Walsh said that the word “day” in Hebrew can mean more than a 24-hour day, stating that when God named the light day and the darkness night, that was one length of day, and that when the Bible speaks of the first day and second day, that was another length of day. He also contended that when God said to Adam that “in the day” you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die, he didn’t physically die that very day, but did spiritually.
“If you’re insisting that ‘day’ must mean 24 hours, you’re not a literalist. You’re actually putting a non-literal definition into the text,” Walsh asserted. “A day is not 24 hours necessarily. … A day on earth right now is 24 hours because that’s how long it takes now for the earth to rotate on its axis. A day on Pluto is like 130 hours. On some planets in the solar system, a day is thousands of hours long. The word ‘day’ depends very much on what space route you happen to be standing on and when you happen to be standing on it.”
“Was the formless earth suspended in a void without a sun, spinning on an axis? Did it have an axis? And if it was spinning, how fast was it spinning? The answer, of course, is you have no idea—not the faintest clue, which means, you have not the faintest clue how long a day was in that context,” he contended.
Walsh stated that for Christians to adhere to the belief that the earth is young, they must discount all science—including the findings of paleontologists, archeologists and physicists and mathematicians.
“Science tells us that the earth is around four billion years old, and the universe is around 14 billion years old,” he said. “In order to defend the six-day creationist view we must essentially reject the fields of modern astronomy, cosmology, geology and biology. We must declare that all but a very tiny fraction of experts in those fields are deluded fools. We must basically wage an all-out war on modern science because it stands so explicitly and starkly against young earth creationism.”
He admitted that he is not a cosmologist or geologist himself, but said that he must decide whether to believe “the near unanimous consensus in those fields or if I will come to the conclusion that they’re all a bunch of Godless liars and lunatics because certain Christians insist that the word ‘day’ in Genesis can only mean 24 hours and nothing else.”
“I must ask myself, what’s more like likely: That the entire fields of cosmology, astronomy, and geology are wrong, illegitimate and falsified, or that young earth creationists are simply misinterpreting the text?” Walsh said. “What’s the more plausible explanation, that modern science is are completely wrong, or that young earth creationists are misinterpreting it?”
“Young earthers, they basically tell us that we have to treat Ken Ham as a greater authority on the subject [of the age of the earth] than Einstein, and I just can’t do that,” he also stated during the recording.
Ken Ham soon posted remarks on his website, pushing back against Walsh’s arguments against a young earth.
“His claim that the days in Genesis cannot be twenty-four hours because a day is defined by the earth revolving around the sun and spinning on its axis reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what a day is. Though he’s correct to say that the sun, according to Scripture, wasn’t there until the fourth day, the length of the day has nothing to do with the sun,” he wrote.
“It is entirely dependent on the rotation of the earth,” Ham outlined. “And by accepting secular interpretations of the past, Walsh completely ignores what a ‘day’ means in Scripture. He is right that the word ‘day’ in the Bible has multiple meanings, but not when it is combined with evening, morning, and a number as it is in Genesis 1. Every single time it is used with those words, it means a literal 24-hour day, something he completely ignores.”
He posted numerous links to articles posted on the Answers in Genesis website, including one that notates how Jesus spoke of creation in Mark 10:6, stating, “[F]rom the beginning of creation God made them male and female.”
“Jesus, the Creator, makes it clear that the first marriage between man and woman (Adam and Eve) came at the beginning of creation. From the chronological information given in Genesis 5 and 11 and in other biblical passages, Jesus was speaking about 4,000 years after this creation,” he said, noting that the genealogy from Adam to Jesus is 4,000 years.
“How could any professing Christ-follower think that Jesus was in error and that marriage between that first man and a woman (which Jesus clearly believed were Adam and Eve because in the context of Mark 10:6 he quotes from Genesis 1 and 2) only happened at the tail end of 13 or so billion years?” asked Ham’s son-in-law, Bodie Hodge.
Ham also asked how Walsh feels about Exodus 20:11, which directed the people of Israel to rest on the seventh day of the week, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
“See, this is the problem with trying to fit billions of years into Genesis. It always ends up compromising the Bible in places outside of Genesis too,” he said. “So either we accept the whole Bible naturally, as it is written, or we reject the whole thing. Trying to fit the Bible with the secular timeline just does not work.”
“It is very ironic that Walsh regularly defends biblical positions such as biblical marriage, human life made in God’s image beginning at fertilization, two created genders and so on, but rejects the foundation for those beliefs,” Ham opined. “Without appealing to Genesis, there is no foundation for marriage. Abortion becomes perfectly acceptable if we aren’t made in the image of God. Get rid of spare cats or spare kids—what’s the difference? Why should we have two genders if God did not make them male and female in the beginning? Genesis provides the answers to those questions.”