OT scholar: Genesis teaches a short timescale
More from Dr Travis Freeman. He serves as Professor of Old Testament at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville. He is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University (B.A.) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Ph.D.). He has been a young-earth creationist for over twenty years and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society Creation Fellowship. He chats with Dr Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries. Go to http://www.creation.com for more from Jonathan.
Sadly, many Christian colleges teach that there are gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. Dr Freeman points out that there can be no time gaps, because: The biblical text gives the number of years between the births of the descendants of Adam in the line leading to Noah. By adding these numbers together, we can calculate the number of years from Adam to Noah. These numbers would be superfluous, even misleading, if generations are missing between fathers and sons. In fact, one strains without success to even imagine why the author of Genesis would include these numbers unless he meant to tie the generations together in a continuous sequence without chronological gaps.
“This type of genealogy seems to be designed for chronological purposes and never contains gaps, at least none that anyone has ever demonstrated. In fact, every biblical genealogy of this sort has been shown to be without gaps.Thus we can calculate that Genesis 5 and 11 record that about 2008 years passed between creation and Abraham’s birth around 1996 BC, thus rendering a creation date of about 4004 BC.”
Dr Freeman also pointed out that this understanding is hardly a novelty. Rather, “nearly all Bible scholars, Jewish and Christian, from the first century BC to about AD 1800 understood Genesis 5 and 11 as setting forth a no-gap chronology of ancient history. So, unless we are prepared to show how all of these scholars were wrong, we should reject the idea of gaps.”
Why was this clear understanding doubted from around AD 1800? Dr Freeman reminds us this is when old-earth ideas started to become popular in ‘science’, due to the Flood-rejecting uniformitarian dogma of Hutton and Lyell, explicitly designed to “free the science from Moses.” Long-age beliefs almost invariably come from such outside ideas being imposed upon the text, rather than anything in the text itself.
But don’t other genealogies, such as the Matthew 1 genealogy of Jesus, have gaps? Dr Freeman points out that this is a different genre, and a key difference is that “Matthew 1 does not record the number of years between generations. This type of genealogy often contains generational gaps, that is, some names are omitted for the sake of brevity or symmetry.”
The doctrine of creation
One of Dr Freeman’s most popular classes is his ‘The Doctrine of Creation’, which he summarises in three statements:
- God created all things in six twenty-four-hour days about 4004 BC in mature form.
- God created all living things according to distinct kinds that were programmed to produce only their kinds but able to adapt to their environment within their kinds.
- God ravaged the earth with a catastrophic flood which began about 2348 BC, lasted about a year, covered the entire world, destroyed and rebuilt Earth’s crust, left behind millions of fossils, left behind vast coal and oil deposits, and permanently altered Earth’s environment.
Since Dr Freeman teaches at a school that affirms the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, I asked how all that is supported by the Bible. He pointed out that Genesis 1 declares that God created all things in six days. He explained that when modified by a number or by the phrase ‘evening and morning’, the Hebrew word for ‘day’ always means a solar day, not an indefinite period of time, in the Old Testament.
Also, the same chapter describes Adam, Eve, fruit trees, and other living things as mature at the time of their creation, and it says that they would reproduce after their kinds. That is, one created kind did not evolve into another, leading eventually to a group of human-like creatures.
Dr Freeman also stresses that Genesis 7 and 8 describe the Flood of Noah’s day as year-long, worldwide, earth-devastating, and deadly to all land vertebrates but those on the Ark. These things would be responsible for the formation of most of Earth’s sedimentary rock layers and fossils. Moreover, it is encouraging that more geologists now recognise that catastrophism provides a better explanation for the geomorphology we observe today than uniformitarianism.