Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Editor, Dear Sir:
W. N. Potts
1302 Central St., Jackson, Miss. April 6, 1953.
From: JASA 5 (June 1953): 2.
I am at present a subscriber to the ASA Journal, and I hope to be a member of the ASA as soon as I get my B.S. this spring.
I note with interest Dr. Howitt's article on the word "yom." If I may, I should like to call attention to some things which may be said in reply.
1. As far as I know the question is not how "Yom" should be TRANSLATED. But how it should be interpreted. When it is said in the second psalm that God will burst into laughter at those who rebel against Him, no one would suggest any but a literal translation, but many would not accept a literal interpretation.
2. The word "yom" does occur with a numeral when it is to be interpreted figuratively, although I confess I am not clear as to the way a numeral modifies its meaning. If you will look at Zech. 14:7 you will find that "day" is used figuratively with numeral "one". Perhaps the meaning is only altered by numerals "other than one"! It should be known too, that the expression "yom ehad" is identical with "the first day" in Genesis one.
3. Zech. 3,9-10 and Hos. 5.15-6.3 are places where the meaning of "day" can be taken figuratively.
4. The liberals do not show fundamentalist bias, it is true, in saying this means a day of 24 hours, but the bias could be shown by insisting upon that-in a liberal direction. However I am not charging this.
5. It is likely that Genesis one was written just when the law of the Sabbath was fresh on the minds of the Israelites, and the work days of God were set forth as an example for His chosen people.
6. From a priori reasoning the eternal God could hardly be expected to confine His work days to rotation of this planet.7. Moses himself uses evening and morning figuratively in the 90th psalm where he says 1000 years in God's sight are but as a day (of yester) when it is past.
8. Facts of geology are as deserving of our consideration as facts of the Bible. They are just as true. And when we meet facts either of revelation or of nature that are seemingly contradictory, we must reconcile them without rejecting either.
9. 1 do not say that the correct interpretation of Genesis one is to say that "day" means a period time. But I believe that is a POSSIBLE interpretation.
10. R. D. Wilson allowed to "yom" the meaning of "a period of time".
I might add that I think there are several other considerations which one might hold in mind when seeking a resolution of this problem.
There can be a hiatus between Genesis 1.1 and 1.2 as Dr. Pusey of Oxford pointed out in the 19th century. He was Regius professor of Hebrew there. This can be whether or not one translates "hayetha" "was" or "became," the latter of which IS allowable.
Further, the "days" can have spaces between them, they can be of unequal length, and they need not be in the order given. These statements are made on the basis of what I believe to be allowed by the Hebrew text.
None of us know the actual truth as yet, the best we can do is to preserve a rational faith by approximating as nearly as possible a reconciliation between biblical and scientific facts that are in our hands.
P.S. Perhaps I should not add this, but sometimes I think that the "days" COULD POSSIBLY be at times parallel as, for instance, some of the complex events in the book of Revelation are. We could then diagram them like the cross section of a cable. Of course some are not as long as others. (According to my view.)
W. N. P.