Before I proceed with my discussion of the creation days in Genesis, I cannot refrain from calling attention to an article in the Beacon Lights under the caption “Proof Positive – The Earth if Flat,” by C. H. Westra.
The reader understands, of course, that the heading of the article is a piece of sarcasm since no one believes that the earth his flat. But Westra, as I understand his article, could just as well have made the caption of the essay: “Proof Positive – the World was Created in Six Days of Twenty-four Hours” and that, too, with equal sarcasm.
And since this is a reflection on my articles on the subject of creation days in The Standard Bearer, although he does not refer to them, I cannot refrain from writing a few words about the article.
First of all Mr. Westra makes a remark that there was a time when it was considered a heresy worthy of censure to teach that the earth was not flat but round. Seeing that this is a tendentious statement, I would like to have proof. When were the people of God ever cast out of the church because they believed that the earth was round? Certainly, the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat, even though it speaks in figurative language of ‘the four corners of the earth.” It tells us very plainly that the earth is round, that, in fact, it is a globe. In Isa. 40:22 we read: “He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.” The original Hebrew for “circle” is CHUG, which means circle or sphere, so that the text may be translated: “He that sitteth upon the sphere or globe of the earth, the orbis terrarium.” See Genesis in loco. And not only is the earth round but everything in creation is round, even in the heavens. In Job 22:14 we read: “He walketh in the circuit of heaven” where the same word is used (CHUG) as in Isa. 40:22. We might very well translate, therefore: “He walketh among the spheres of the heavens.” The same idea is found in Prov. 8:27 “When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth,” where again the same word (CHUG) is used for compass. Certainly, according to Scripture, nothing is square or flat, not even in the original chaos, the “depth,” but everything is round from the beginning. Again, the same idea, in respect to the waters on the earth, is expressed in Job 26:10: “He hath compassed (the same word is used here as in the other passages we quoted, only now in the verbal form (CHAG) the waters with bounds.” We may translate, therefore: “He described a circle or marked with a compass the fact of the waters” (thus according to the original Hebrew). Everything therefore, according to Scripture, is round: the earth is a sphere, the waters on the earth are round, and the heavenly bodies are also spheres.
But I like to have historical proof for the statement of Westra that the people of God were persecuted for their teaching that the earth is round. I do not deny this. Nevertheless, it is up to him to furnish proof for this tendentious statement, which not only makes the church look foolish, but which also must serve as an introduction to his suggestion that the days of the creation narrative were long periods, at least, perhaps.
Another tendentious introduction to the position that, perhaps, the days of creation were long periods, is the paragraph that informs us that, for a long time “the theologians-would-be-scientists” believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun and the planets revolve around the earth. Again, I ask for historical proof of this statement. Mr. Westra merely makes this statement without any proof. What must be proved is: 1.That those theologians actually taught this; and 2.That this was only the teaching of what Westra calls deprecatingly “the theologians-would-be-scientists,” and that it was not the general belief in those days. Surely, at that time these “theologians-would-be-scientists” were already cured of their error that the earth was flat, for how otherwise could they possibly teach that the sun and the planets revolved locally around the earth? At any rate, I want proof. Again, I say that I will not deny this, but neither will I take Westra’s word for it. I want historical proof.
At any rate the Bible, though it certainly teaches that man-in-Christ is the center of the universe, knows nothing of the earth’s being the local center of creation.
But now I quote the paragraph to which the whole article of Westra, evidently, means to refer: “A similar situation faces the church today. Various laboratory techniques which can measure with astounding accuracy the amount of radioactivity of various substances (including the well-known carbon-14) have indicated that the earth is thousands of years older than Scripture seems to indicate. Not only that the earth itself is that old, but that for a half a million years before the birth of Christ, animals and some sort of human life existed. This technique of measuring the radioactivity that remains in the samples submitted by archeologists is as sound a technique as can be found in any measuring laboratory. In fact, this method is so extremely reliable it has been compared to a yardstick!”
Now, in the rest of the article, Mr. Westra does not definitely either teach or deny the long period theory, as from the above quoted paragraph we would certainly expect. For there he presents with evident approval the theory of science so-called that the earth is thousands of years older than “Scripture seems to indicate.” However, I nevertheless have the impression that Westra believes that when what he calls “general revelation” (let us call it science) will ever be harmonized with what he calls “specific revelation,” “general revelation” (science) will prove to be correct. And that means that creation account of Gen. 1, 2 is a mere myth.
Mr. Westra writes nothing new. Even the attempt to harmonize the creation narrative with the theory of evolution is nothing new. But all these attempts have not only failed, but they have resulted in denying the Word of God.
But I would like to ask Mr. Westra a few questions.
He must remember that I am not a scientist, nor even a “theologian-would-be-scientist.” Hence, my questions; which I ask also for the readers of Beacon Lights.
1. Will you explain to a simple theologian that is not a scientist, as well as to the readers of Beacon Lights, just wheat is Carbon-14? Yes, I have read about it, but I am not a scientist. Neither are most of our readers of Beacon Lights. Hence, the question.
2. Will you explain how, especially Carbon-14, proves that the earth is thousands of years older than Scripture indicates? You, evidently, believe this. Hence, the question.
3. Will you explain how it is even possible, and now I mean in the light of Scripture, that animal and some form of human life existed a half million years before the birth of Christ. And will you prove this also from Carbon-14 as well as from “the technique of measuring the radioactivity that remains in the samples submitted by archeologists”?
4. Was man created in the image of God a half a million years ago or did he gradually develop into that image?
Well, this is enough for the time being. I hope you answer my question, preferable in the
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 5 June-July 1959