Friday, February 20, 2015

Is Gen 2 a one-day creation account?

One stock objection to YEC is that it's hard to squeeze everything that happens in Gen 2 into a 24-hour timeframe. 

Now I think that objection is somewhat overdrawn. If, say, God only named the animals in the Garden, then that drastically reduces the amount of time required. 

That said, it's pretty rushed, pretty congested, if everything had to happen in the span of 24 hours. Why the hurry? 

Now, what's interesting about this question is that, unlike Gen 1, Gen 2 has no time-markers. There's nothing in the account itself to indicate when it began and when it ended. So there's nothing in the account itself to limit the action to a single day. In principle, it could be spread out over two or more days. And you could still take everything literally. 

What's driving the 24-hour interpretation of Gen 2 is synchronizing Gen 2 with Gen 1. If you take Gen 1 as the temporal frame of reference, then day 6 supplies the terminus ad quo for Gen 2 insofar as man can't be created in Gen 2 before man is created in Gen 1. 

However, assuming that we accept that frame of reference, even if day 6 supplies the terminus ad quo, that doesn't mean day 6 supplies the terminus at quem. Although, on that reference frame , it can't begin before day 6, that doesn't mean it can't end after day 6. 

Perhaps, though, the objection is that Gen 1 says both male and female were made on day 6. So that's the cutoff. However, day 6 is a shorthand account of what's detailed in Gen 2–with special reference to man's creation. The telegrammatic description of man's creation on day 6 pencilled in by the more expansive account in Gen 2. 

But it still might be said that if day 6 marks the terminus ad quo, then day 7 marks the terminus ad quem. That's if we bookend Gen 2 between day 5 and day 7. 

However, to say that day 6 supplies the terminus ad quo oversimplifies the relation. If you attempt to coordinate Gen 2 with Gen 1, then events in Gen 2 begin on day 3. For in Gen 1, the creation of flora antedates the creation of fauna by 3 days. 

On the calendar-day interpretation, you can't synchronize days 3-6 with a one-day creation in Gen 2. 24 hours ≠ 74 hours. But if, in Gen 2, some things happen sooner than day 6, why can't some things happen later than day 6?

Of course, this discontinuity goes to the fact that even though Gen 1 and Gen 2 overlap, the events in Gen 2 are in some measure independent of Gen 1 inasmuch as Gen 2 is a local creation account with special reference to the Garden of Eden. So, as a matter of act, they were never meant to be strictly synchronous. In Gen 2, God prepares a home for our first parents. He plants a garden. He furnishes the garden with animals he creates (on the spot). It's more diagonal than parallel to Gen 1. Given the complicated relationship between Gen 1 and Gen 2, there's no compelling reason to view Gen 2 as a one-day creation account. It may reflect a more leisurely pace. 

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