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Author Topic: "Young Earth Theory" and the Early Church Fathers  (Read 6007 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 14, 2008, 01:56:29 PM »

Are there 'any' ECF who didn't posit a 'young earth theory'? Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2008, 02:12:20 PM »

Lots of threads......I don't know if any address this question specifically....

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,3704.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php?board=9;action=display;threadid=1063;start=msg43522#msg43522
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2008, 10:22:58 PM »

I recommend that you also read this thread:  Genesis, Creation and Orthodoxy
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2008, 11:25:31 PM »

I recommend that you also read this thread:  Genesis, Creation and Orthodoxy

As for me, I'd rather recommend that you study radiometric dating. Since ~1960 or so, a few tens of thousands of articles have been published about it in peer-reviewed journals. Unless you believe that there exists some world conspiracy of evil God-hating people who took over the world science, this experience should pretty much eliminate the "belief" that our planet is seven or so thousand astronomical years old.
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2008, 11:31:40 PM »

As for me, I'd rather recommend that you study radiometric dating. Since ~1960 or so, a few tens of thousands of articles have been published about it in peer-reviewed journals. Unless you believe that there exists some world conspiracy of evil God-hating people who took over the world science, this experience should pretty much eliminate the "belief" that our planet is seven or so thousand astronomical years old.

The OP is asking if there are any Fathers who didn't posit a "young Earth" Creationism.  That's why the threads were recommended.  He's not asking for an argument against Young Earth Creationsim.  Personally I'm a "creationist," but with details undefined at the moment, although I'm certainly not a YE Creationist.

Are there 'any' ECF who didn't posit a 'young earth theory'? Thanks!

I don't know, but it's a good question.
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2008, 12:03:19 AM »

The OP is asking if there are any Fathers who didn't posit a "young Earth" Creationism.  That's why the threads were recommended.  He's not asking for an argument against Young Earth Creationsim.  Personally I'm a "creationist," but with details undefined at the moment, although I'm certainly not a YE Creationist.
question.

I am also a "creationist" but ONLY in the sense that I believe (or am trying to believe) in a supreme Being Who willed (and wills) that things become what they become. As I wrote before, thinking for a split second that the natural laws like rdioactive isotope decay (which is the foundation of the satement that our planet is 4.5 billion years old), or natural selection/ speciation, are not real, - would mean betraying everything that I am ultimately loyal to, like honesty, integrity, being above loyalty to a "gang" that urges one to mindlessly repeat convenient sweet "wise" utterings of some authority. No "wisdom" of any "father" who lived way before the publication of "Novum Organum" and, therefore, had no clue about the natural world will change this, I am afraid.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2008, 12:18:21 AM »

No "wisdom" of any "father" who lived way before the publication of "Novum Organum" and, therefore, had no clue about the natural world will change this, I am afraid.

And no one is trying to right now (thank the Lord)... He's just looking for Fathers that are Creationists but not YE Creationists.
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2008, 09:52:24 AM »

I recognize this is a 'hot button' issue. Pardon me please if the title was thought of hastily.

Could one of the moderators change the title of the thread?

Lord have mercy on me for placing a stumbling block before my brothers and sisters. Amen.  Embarrassed
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2008, 02:02:04 AM »

Could one of the moderators change the title of the thread?
DONE.  For the reference of all who have posted on this thread, this explains why all your posts show now as modified by me.  All I did was change the thread title in each post.  - PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2008, 02:26:14 PM »

Father Seraphim Rose had some early church fathers' writings on the subject "Genesis, Creation and Early Man".  Seems there have always been many "theories" about a longer age of the earth, since the Greeks believed that the world was extremely ancient, but this was not an issue for any church fathers, since whenever they wrote about the subject, they clearly accepted the Biblical account as accurate. Clement of Alexandria in Miscellanies 1, written before 215 a.d., gives u the date of creation of Adam at 5592 b.c., Julius Africanus, in Chronology, gives it at 5500 b.c. , and Hippolytus of Rome, give date of creation of Adam at 5500 b.c.

Obviously the dating of the earth did not need to be dealt with, by any early councils, since whenever they wrote about the topic, the church fathers rejected the Greek long age theory. Since I had assumed that radiometric dating dogmatically gave us a much longer age, years ago I had accepted a modern protestant interpretation of Holy Scripture to have found a way to override the readings of scriptures with our modern findings, by interpreting the Bible within a "gap theory", therefore, throwing out the "young age" faith of the scriptures in favor of a more "modern" view. I assumed anyone who accepted a young age theory must be a hillbilly who doesn't know science and had not had all the training I had in science and must be simply pitied for their "simplicity". As an Orthodox, I'm in a much tougher position now.

When I completed a minor degree in Physics and Computer Engineering, after happy days of receiving 4.0 in my calculus 6 course and passing calculus based physics courses, I found in the archives of our library, several scientists from top universities who proposed that the infallibility of radiometric dating methodologies is a modern myth taught to many of our scientists without providing the exceptions. Shocked me to hear scientists say such things since it seemed beyond the possibility of modern mind to believe there were any exceptions to what my professors had taught me. I remember one of the authors was a phd professor from Purdue University who mathematically calculated the age of the earth based upon half-life of certain elements, and he concluded it was impossible for the earth to be more than 10,000 years old. The math was not that hard to understand and in full agreement with what I had been taught in my classes mathematically and physically, but when I went to ask my some of my professors about the logical conclusions of these findings, they often seem so aggressively against even looking at the science or math behind the topic, except for our senior biology professor, who had read the same data and told me he was now presenting both sides to his students and allowing them to decide based on the facts of science whether dogma can be reached on either side. I am against a closed mind, since many scientists around Copernicus and Galileo's days, also thought those scientists had to be out of their mind to reject what "all" scientists had accepted in the west already. Being open minded, I am also aware that I am not all knowing and may easily be shown a different way to understand the universe than I do. Just thank God, we don't have too many flat earth scientists today though. Since someone here mentioned concerns about radiometric dating, here is a link to 30-40 technical and semitechnical articles on the subject that you might find possible different conclusions from the scientific facts: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dating.asp

A famous protestant astronomer by the name of Hugh Ross did write a book promoting a long age theory once again, but then biochemist phd Jonathan Sarfati, from Australia, wrote a detailed counter argument in his book "Refuting Compromise", showing Hugh Ross' incredible misquote of so many sources that it is hard for one who reads the accounts, to accept the Ross' account as anything but imaginative attempt to rewrite history based on presuppositions that guided him to only see what he wanted to see, even if it meant proof testing several historical documents out of context. The scientific data in the book is logical, but hard to grasp, if one has a solid bias against the data. Most importantly, sometimes harsh criticism on either side can be ugly and almost permanently judgemental apart from Christ's Love and the humble example of our church fathers.

Since obviously scientific research and documented findings back both sides of the argument scientifically, the "infallibility" of the conclusions as taught to many of our students and our professors, are obviously in question by many scientists. Not sure why any scientist could be dogmatic about their position, knowing that science is always in discovery mode and what we know as science today can easily be proven wrong tomorrow. Lately, I have read that the attacks have been much harsher. Several of these professors were forced out of their positions and others were denied tenure, just because they held to a different scientific finding. I hope we can all keep an open mind to empirical science and not throw out findings that agree with our church fathers and the reading of the Holy Scriptures too quickly. A great resource on the science side can be found at http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/bios/

Either way, I must remember always that "Knowledge puffs up, but Love builds up" St. Paul to the Corinthian church, 1 cor. 13. What would it matter if I won the argument, but lost the soul. With gentleness and love, may we all help one another grow in Grace and Knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ  Smiley

As one on the way to becoming baptized and Chrismated within Orthodoxy, I am not sure if I can discount church fathers as wrong and not accept this part of the scriptures that address creation's timing. Some obviously have and I am just hopeful that their exposure to the science on both sides have been limited to dogmatism by many scientists on one side of the timing issue and this issue not to have been "canonized" by a few honorable and humble priests yet? Wink

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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2008, 04:22:37 PM »

Dear ChristianLove,

I understand that the radiometric dating is a method that heavily depends on statistics, particularly linear regression analysis. (Let you, as a person who studied physics and math, and our resident mathematician, GreekIsChristian, correct me if I am wrong.) Now, I have personally used in my experimental work another method based on linear regression - a method of quantifying antibodies in various samples with the help of the so-called enzyme linked antibody sorbent assay (ELISA). There are certain tricks in this assay, and if one is not really-really experienced in it and does not know these tricks, one can arrive to a very weird conclusions, like that a sample of human blood contains a kilogram of antibodies or a - 35 (minus thirty-five) micrograms of antibodies. laugh But does it prove that we cannot rely on the bulk of data obtained in hundreds of independently working laboratories that employ ELISA? Certainly we can. We just have to learn to use this method the right way. As we are in the process of learning, other specialists in the field, with whom we share our data, explain to us, what went wrong in our analysis and how to make our results more consistent.

In a similar way, when I see random Web sites where people (probably, people with an anti-evolution agenda) collect "discrepancies" in radiometric dating and appeal to the lay audience's "common sense," my only reaction is, some scientific tools ARE INDEED difficult to use, but they still are used and we believe the consensus of the data. Not, of course, because these methods are infallible but, rather, because science is an open field where mythology and blind authority simply does not survive!

Best wishes to you,

George
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« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2008, 02:37:00 AM »

Grace and Peace ChristianLove,

Thanks for such a wonderful post! I'm touched that you shared so much with us. Your the first person with a science background that has offered any doubt concerning this topic. That's interesting.

God Bless.
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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2008, 02:45:54 AM »

As one on the way to becoming baptized and Chrismated within Orthodoxy, I am not sure if I can discount church fathers as wrong and not accept this part of the scriptures that address creation's timing. Some obviously have and I am just hopeful that their exposure to the science on both sides have been limited to dogmatism by many scientists on one side of the timing issue and this issue not to have been "canonized" by a few honorable and humble priests yet? Wink

Hi ChristianLove,

The Church Fathers aren't wrong per se; they simply didn't have the scientific evidence at their fingertips that we have today.

All the young earth advocates have to do is prove in their own laboritries that the established scientific method of radioactive dating is incorrect in the claim that the oldest rocks on earth approach an age of approximately 4.5 billion years - even though the ratios emerge time and time again that show that this is the case.

Have young earth geologists even attempted to disprove this result? If they have, where are the results that challenge the established figures?

Aren't the objections in unscientific books, authored by people who aren't even experts in the field of geology, merely rhetoric? 
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2008, 02:55:36 AM »

Grace and Peace ChristianLove,

Thanks for such a wonderful post! I'm touched that you shared so much with us. Your the first person with a science background that has offered any doubt concerning this topic. That's interesting.

Ignatius,

Simply because someone has a background in science doesn't mean that they are an expert in any field other than their own.

George's area of expertise is biology, so his comments are particularly valuable in discussions concerning topics like evolution.  ChristianLove, and I don't mean to devalue his/her contribution in any way whatsoever, isn't a geologist.








 
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2008, 11:05:01 AM »

Ignatius,

Simply because someone has a background in science doesn't mean that they are an expert in any field other than their own.

George's area of expertise is biology, so his comments are particularly valuable in discussions concerning topics like evolution.  ChristianLove, and I don't mean to devalue his/her contribution in any way whatsoever, isn't a geologist.

Does mean that they are an 'expert' even in their own field or just a working member of said field?

I do see why this issue is so heated thought. It does appear to not only place the Deposit of Faith in doubt by also our Lord and Saviour too. It does appear that He at least implicitly confirmed that the earth was created in six-literal days as was the belief of Moses (i.e. Old Testament). Do modern scholars believe that Moses is even the author of the Old Testament any longer? Isn't that another questionable affirmation our our Lord and Saviour too?
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« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2008, 11:18:49 AM »

It does appear to not only place the Deposit of Faith in doubt by also our Lord and Saviour too.
How so?  I just don't see this.

Quote
It does appear that He at least implicitly confirmed that the earth was created in six-literal days as was the belief of Moses (i.e. Old Testament).
How so?  I've never seen in the Gospel Jesus even coming close to confirming that He created the earth in a literal six days or that this was even the belief of Moses.  I have to wonder if this isn't us projecting a twentieth century anti-modern mindset upon Moses and the Lord.

Quote
Do modern scholars believe that Moses is even the author of the Old Testament any longer?
Are you talking about just the Pentateuch or the whole Old Testament, most of which was written centuries after Moses died.

Quote
Isn't that another questionable affirmation our our Lord and Saviour too?
How so?  What did Christ affirm on this?
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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2008, 11:38:11 AM »

Do modern scholars believe that Moses is even the author of the Old Testament any longer?

No:
Quote
As most popularly proposed by Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), the Pentateuch is composed of four separate and identifiable texts, dating roughly from the period of Solomon up until exilic priests and scribes. These various texts were brought together as one document (the Pentateuch, or Torah) by scribes after the exile. The traditional names are:

    * The Jahwist (or J) - written c 950 BCE.[2] The southern kingdom's (i.e. Judah) interpretation. It is named according to the prolific use of the name "Yahweh" (or Jaweh, in German, the divine name or Tetragrammaton) in its text.
    * The Elohist (or E) - written c 850 BCE.[2] The northern kingdom's (i.e. Israel) interpretation. As above, it is named because of its preferred use of "Elohim" (Generic name for "god" in Hebrew).
    * The Deuteronomist (or D) - written c 621-650 BCE.[2] Dating specifically from the time of King Josiah of Judah and responsible for the book of Deuteronomy as well as Joshua and most of the subsequent books up to 2 Kings.
    * The Priestly source (or P) - written during or after the exile, c 550-400 BCE.[2] So named because of its focus on levitical laws.

There is debate amongst scholars as to exactly how many different documents compose the corpus of the Pentateuch, and as to what sections of text are included in the different documents.

A number of smaller independent texts have also been identified, including the Song of the Sea and other works, mainly in verse, most of them older than the four main texts. The individual books were edited and combined into their present form by the Redactor, frequently identified with the scribe Ezra, in the post-Babylonian exile period.

From wikipedia.  I wouldn't trust Wikipedia, but that should give enough information to pull reliable sources from a library. 
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2008, 11:44:35 AM »

It does appear to not only place the Deposit of Faith in doubt by also our Lord and Saviour too. It does appear that He at least implicitly confirmed that the earth was created in six-literal days as was the belief of Moses (i.e. Old Testament).

As a first century man, Jesus would have accepted ideas that came part and parcel of the Jewish tradition. That wouldn't necessarily mean that they were correct, but there's no sin in not knowing that the universe came into being some 13 billion years ago. Even Scripture says that Jesus does not know the hour of the end so if Jesus did not know that, and we affirm that he is God, then it follows that there really was a real Incarnation where Jesus took on a real human condition.

I'm wondering if your argument might even be implicitly docetic in claiming that because Jesus is God (we agree there), he must have been in a position of such that any belief he presents in terms of Mosaic authorship or the 6 literal days of Genesis is therefore a divine stamp on that understanding rather than a divine accomodation to the particularities of being incarnated.

http://www.pibburns.com/augustin.htm - quoting St. Augustine.

Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) provided excellent advice for all Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge. This translation is by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.

"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion." [1 Timothy 1.7]



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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2008, 02:13:38 PM »

How so?  I just don't see this.
How so?  I've never seen in the Gospel Jesus even coming close to confirming that He created the earth in a literal six days or that this was even the belief of Moses.  I have to wonder if this isn't us projecting a twentieth century anti-modern mindset upon Moses and the Lord.
Are you talking about just the Pentateuch or the whole Old Testament, most of which was written centuries after Moses died.
How so?  What did Christ affirm on this?

Grace and Peace PeterTheAleut,

I'm not trying to make any hard claims just thinking out loud but the point remains that 'every' Early Church Father that I can find offered a 'literal' interpretation of Genesis, Adam and Eve and for good reason as they followed the lead of our Lord and Saviour Himself... who though not explicitly could be argued very well an implicit teaching of a literal six-day creation. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female (Mark 10:6). This makes the argument that Jesus taught that creation was young, for Adam and Eve existed ‘from the beginning ’ – not billions of years after the universe and Earth came into existence.

Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you –Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5:45-47). In this passage, Jesus makes an implication that one must believe what Moses wrote. And one of the passages in the writings of Moses in Exodus 20:11 states: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. This, of course, is the basis of our seven-day week –six days work and one day rest. Obviously, this passage was meant to be taken as speaking of a total of seven literal days based on the Creation week of six literal days of work and one literal day of rest.

In fact, in Luke 13:14, in his response to Jesus healing a person on the Sabbath, the ruler of the synagogue, who knew the law of Moses, obviously referred to this passage when he said, There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day here was considered an ordinary day, and the six days of work were considered ordinary days. This teaching is based on the law of Moses as recorded in Exodus 20,where we find the Ten Commandments –the six- day Creation week being a basis for the Fourth Commandment.

I welcome your thoughts. I'm not necessarily suggesting this is the only way to understand these passages but I personally find it difficult to see them other than how I have presented them.

Thanks and God Bless.
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« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2008, 08:14:35 PM »

Since someone here mentioned concerns about radiometric dating, here is a link to 30-40 technical and semitechnical articles on the subject that you might find possible different conclusions from the scientific facts: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dating.asp

Hi ChristianLove,

I was given a subscription of the Creation-Science (the earlier name of Answers in Genesis) magazine some years ago and, quite frankly, was appalled by the misinformation and spurious claims they contained. (I should add that, at the time, I was leaning towards a literal interpretation of Genesis.)

I don't have time to read the articles on the site you have posted and certainly don't have the necessary qualifications to refute them. However, you might be interested in a site maintained by scientists who have done so.

The first place to start might be;

A Visit to the Institute for Creation Research by Karen Bartelt.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/icr-visit/bartelt1.html

God be with you.
 

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« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2008, 02:45:05 AM »

I'm not trying to make any hard claims just thinking out loud but the point remains that 'every' Early Church Father that I can find offered a 'literal' interpretation of Genesis, Adam and Eve ...
Which Fathers have you read?  Are you sure you've read them all?  If a Holy Father was to teach a more allegorical view of the Scriptures, as was consistent with the Alexandrian school of biblical exegesis (IIRC), would you disregard his wisdom as contradicting that which you've already embraced?

Quote
... and for good reason as they followed the lead of our Lord and Saviour Himself... who though not explicitly could be argued very well an implicit teaching of a literal six-day creation. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female (Mark 10:6). This makes the argument that Jesus taught that creation was young, for Adam and Eve existed ‘from the beginning ’ – not billions of years after the universe and Earth came into existence.
From the beginning of what?  Both the RSV and NKJV say "from the beginning of creation," which I suppose could support your point.  But are we to make of Christ's words the foundation for pseudo-scientific claims regarding the age of the earth?  Is this how He wanted to be understood?  Within the broader context of this passage, it certainly doesn't appear that Jesus was even concerned about stating how old the race of man was.  Jesus appears instead to have referenced the sacred mythology of the Jewish people in order to set the foundation for the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

Quote
Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you –Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5:45-47). In this passage, Jesus makes an implication that one must believe what Moses wrote. And one of the passages in the writings of Moses in Exodus 20:11 states: For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. This, of course, is the basis of our seven-day week –six days work and one day rest. Obviously, this passage was meant to be taken as speaking of a total of seven literal days based on the Creation week of six literal days of work and one literal day of rest.
ISTM that you have read these Scriptures with the already preconceived notion that they are to be understood strictly according to their literal meaning and are deciphering from these writings evidence to support your literalism--one may call this circular reasoning.  However, those of us who don't consider ourselves bound to a literalist method of interpreting the Scriptures don't see any evidence in the Scriptures that they are to be understood in this way.  For instance, nowhere in the Bible do we see anything to indicate exactly how long a day of creation was.  Was it 24 hours as we know them?  Was it 24,000,000,000 years (just to throw out a random number)?  From the biblical message itself, we simply don't know.  Many today assume that a day in the first Genesis creation narrative is the same as what we call a day today, but this isn't stated readily in the Bible, nor is there record that the Jews of the Old or New Testaments believed this.

"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day."  (2 Peter 3:8 )

Remember that before he met Jesus, the writer of this epistle was himself an Old Testament Jew.

Quote
In fact, in Luke 13:14, in his response to Jesus healing a person on the Sabbath, the ruler of the synagogue, who knew the law of Moses, obviously referred to this passage when he said, There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day here was considered an ordinary day, and the six days of work were considered ordinary days. This teaching is based on the law of Moses as recorded in Exodus 20,where we find the Ten Commandments –the six- day Creation week being a basis for the Fourth Commandment.
Yes, the six-day week of the first Creation narrative--there are actually two contradictory narratives in the first few chapters of Genesis--is the basis for the six-day week followed by the Sabbath.  The Levitical worship of the Tabernacle/Temple was patterned after the angelic worship of God in the heavens, as well.  But this doesn't mean that God and the angels understand time as we do.  Our worship of God, as is our seven-day week, is something we understand and practice in time as we experience it.  The celestial worship of God and, I would venture to say, His creation of all that is are outside of our particular earthbound experience of time.
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« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2008, 04:23:02 AM »

When I completed a minor degree in Physics and Computer Engineering, after happy days of receiving 4.0 in my calculus 6 course and passing calculus based physics courses, I found in the archives of our library, several scientists from top universities who proposed that the infallibility of radiometric dating methodologies is a modern myth taught to many of our scientists without providing the exceptions. Shocked me to hear scientists say such things since it seemed beyond the possibility of modern mind to believe there were any exceptions to what my professors had taught me. I remember one of the authors was a phd professor from Purdue University who mathematically calculated the age of the earth based upon half-life of certain elements, and he concluded it was impossible for the earth to be more than 10,000 years old. The math was not that hard to understand and in full agreement with what I had been taught in my classes mathematically and physically, but when I went to ask my some of my professors about the logical conclusions of these findings, they often seem so aggressively against even looking at the science or math behind the topic, except for our senior biology professor, who had read the same data and told me he was now presenting both sides to his students and allowing them to decide based on the facts of science whether dogma can be reached on either side. I am against a closed mind, since many scientists around Copernicus and Galileo's days, also thought those scientists had to be out of their mind to reject what "all" scientists had accepted in the west already. Being open minded, I am also aware that I am not all knowing and may easily be shown a different way to understand the universe than I do. Just thank God, we don't have too many flat earth scientists today though. Since someone here mentioned concerns about radiometric dating, here is a link to 30-40 technical and semitechnical articles on the subject that you might find possible different conclusions from the scientific facts: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dating.asp


ChristianLove,

I just ran across this article, and have printed it out to read. I thought it might interest you.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html

Radiometric Dating
Dr. Roger C. Wiens

941 Estates Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544

[A PDF version of this document is also available.]

Dr. Wiens has a PhD in Physics, with a minor in Geology. His PhD thesis was on isotope ratios in meteorites, including surface exposure dating. He was employed at Caltech's Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences at the time of writing the first edition. He is presently employed in the Space & Atmospheric Sciences Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

First edition 1994; revised version 2002.

Radiometric dating--the process of determining the age of rocks from the decay of their radioactive elements--has been in widespread use for over half a century. There are over forty such techniques, each using a different radioactive element or a different way of measuring them. It has become increasingly clear that these radiometric dating techniques agree with each other and as a whole, present a coherent picture in which the Earth was created a very long time ago. Further evidence comes from the complete agreement between radiometric dates and other dating methods such as counting tree rings or glacier ice core layers. Many Christians have been led to distrust radiometric dating and are completely unaware of the great number of laboratory measurements that have shown these methods to be consistent. Many are also unaware that Bible-believing Christians are among those actively involved in radiometric dating.

This paper describes in relatively simple terms how a number of the dating techniques work, how accurately the half-lives of the radioactive elements and the rock dates themselves are known, and how dates are checked with one another. In the process the paper refutes a number of misconceptions prevalent among Christians today. This paper is available on the web via the American Scientific Affiliation and related sites to promote greater understanding and wisdom on this issue, particularly within the Christian community.

God be with you.

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« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2008, 04:15:16 PM »

Which Fathers have you read?  Are you sure you've read them all?  If a Holy Father was to teach a more allegorical view of the Scriptures, as was consistent with the Alexandrian school of biblical exegesis (IIRC), would you disregard his wisdom as contradicting that which you've already embraced?

Grace and Peace PeterTheAleut,

Well, I'm familiar with Clement, Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, etc... I simply find none supporting an allegorical view of Genesis. In fact, I find the opposite.

‘I know the laws of allegory, though less by myself than from the works of others. There are those truly, who do not admit the common sense of the Scriptures, for whom water is not water, but some other nature, who see in a plant, in a fish, what their fancy wishes, who change the nature of reptiles and of wild beasts to suit their allegories, like the interpreters of dreams who explain visions in sleep to make them serve their own ends. For me grass is grass; plant, fish, wild beast, domestic animal, I take all in the literal sense. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel” [Rom. 1:16].’ (Homily IX:1) ~ St. Basil the Great

Quote
From the beginning of what?  Both the RSV and NKJV say "from the beginning of creation," which I suppose could support your point.  But are we to make of Christ's words the foundation for pseudo-scientific claims regarding the age of the earth?  Is this how He wanted to be understood?  Within the broader context of this passage, it certainly doesn't appear that Jesus was even concerned about stating how old the race of man was.  Jesus appears instead to have referenced the sacred mythology of the Jewish people in order to set the foundation for the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

I'm not sure I would assume that this is 'my point' but the point of the consensual teaching of the Church for some time. I'm also not sure that I would say we are to make of Christ's words a foundation for pseudo-scientific claims concerning the age of the earth but I would make them a foundation for what Jesus thought concerning the six-days of creation and the presences of Adam and Eve 'from the beginning'. I believe we need to exercise some intellectual honesty in how we interpret these passages and not attempt evasion of their actual meaning in order to avoid contradictions. If we have a 'deposit' which has been given, through the Holy Spirit, to guide our Church I have difficultly excusing our Spiritual Fathers for ignorance in their interpretation of the Scriptures. I have a very hard time saying that they could not have known how to interpret these passages in the light of the material datum of our day because if they had been guided by the Spirit their interpretations could not contradict the origins of our world.

Quote
ISTM that you have read these Scriptures with the already preconceived notion that they are to be understood strictly according to their literal meaning and are deciphering from these writings evidence to support your literalism--one may call this circular reasoning.  However, those of us who don't consider ourselves bound to a literalist method of interpreting the Scriptures don't see any evidence in the Scriptures that they are to be understood in this way.  For instance, nowhere in the Bible do we see anything to indicate exactly how long a day of creation was.  Was it 24 hours as we know them?  Was it 24,000,000,000 years (just to throw out a random number)?  From the biblical message itself, we simply don't know.  Many today assume that a day in the first Genesis creation narrative is the same as what we call a day today, but this isn't stated readily in the Bible, nor is there record that the Jews of the Old or New Testaments believed this.

I don't know of any other day (Yom) which has 'a night and a morning'. The overwhelming interpretation of these passages have been 'literal'. Now is there a spiritual (i.e. allegorical) element to these passages? Of course but not at the expense to the literal meaning of the passages...

Quote
"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day."  (2 Peter 3:8 )

Remember that before he met Jesus, the writer of this epistle was himself an Old Testament Jew.
Yes, the six-day week of the first Creation narrative--there are actually two contradictory narratives in the first few chapters of Genesis--is the basis for the six-day week followed by the Sabbath.  The Levitical worship of the Tabernacle/Temple was patterned after the angelic worship of God in the heavens, as well.  But this doesn't mean that God and the angels understand time as we do.  Our worship of God, as is our seven-day week, is something we understand and practice in time as we experience it.  The celestial worship of God and, I would venture to say, His creation of all that is are outside of our particular earthbound experience of time.

I can appreciate your attempt to make sense of the passages in light of the material datum but I have to be honest that I have a great deal of trouble discarding the testimony of the Early Church Fathers on this matter.
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« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2008, 07:36:00 PM »

Well, I'm familiar with Clement, Origen, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, etc... I simply find none supporting an allegorical view of Genesis. In fact, I find the opposite.
What have you to say about these quotes of Early Church Fathers?

Origen (who, in the following excerpt, argues AGAINST a strictly literal interpretation of the Scriptures):
But after this investigation of his assertions, as if his object were to swell his book by many words, he repeats, in different language, the same charges which we have examined a little ago, saying: "By far the most silly thing is the distribution of the creation of the world over certain days, before days existed: for, as the heaven was not yet created, nor the foundation of the earth yet laid, nor the sun yet revolving, how could there be days?"  Now, what difference is there between these words and the following: "Moreover, taking and looking at these things from the beginning, would it not be absurd in the first and greatest God to issue the command, Let this (first thing) come into existence, and this second thing, and this (third); and after accomplishing so much on the first day, to do so much more again on the second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and sixth?" We answered to the best of our ability this objection to God's "commanding this first, second, and third thing to be created," when we quoted the words, "He said, and it was done; He commanded, and all things stood fast;" remarking that the immediate Creator, and, as it were, very Maker of the world was the Word, the Son of God; while the Father of the Word, by commanding His own Son—the Word—to create the world, is primarily Creator.  And with regard to the creation of the light upon the first day, and of the firmament upon the second, and of the gathering together of the waters that are under the heaven into their several reservoirs on the third (the earth thus causing to sprout forth those (fruits) which are under the control of nature alone), and of the (great) lights and stars upon the fourth, and of aquatic animals upon the fifth, and of land animals and man upon the sixth, we have treated to the best of our ability in our notes upon Genesis, as well as in the foregoing pages, when we found fault with those who, taking the words in their apparent signification, said that the time of six days was occupied in the creation of the world, and quoted the words: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." (Contra Celsus, Book VI, Chapter 60; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04166.htm)


From the Scriptures:
"You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."  (Genesis 2:16b-17)

How do you reconcile this with this passage later from Genesis?

Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty (930) years...  (Genesis 5:5)

Clearly, if God meant "day" in the former passage as you define "day"--i.e., 24 hours, sunset to sunset--then how did Adam live for 930 years?  Let's look at how St Justin Martyr sees this.

For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, 'The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,' (2 Peter 3:8 ) is connected with this subject.  (Dialog with Trypho, Chapter 81; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01283.htm)

We see this theme of a day being as a thousand years to God also in the following:

St. Ireneaus of Lyons:
And there are some, again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since "a day of the Lord is as a thousand years," he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin.  (Against Heresies, Book V, Chapter 23; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xxiv.html)

... and in the following:

St. Cyprian of Carthage:
As the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years, as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house l so here also the number seven of the brethren, embracing, in the quantity of their number, the seven churches, as likewise in the first book of Kings we read that the barren has borne seven. (Treatises 11:11; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050711.htm)


And what do you say of the following?

Clement of Alexandria (whom I echo in a previous post that we cannot know from the Scriptures exactly when or how long, in human reckoning, creation took place):
That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: "This is the book of the generation: also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth." For the expression "when they were created" intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression "in the day that God made," that is, in and by which God made "all things," and "without which not even one thing was made," points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice in it; " that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life and being, is called day. (The Stromata, Book VI, Chapter 16; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02106.htm)

St. Augustine (who deems it impossible to conceive what kind of days the six days of creation were):
But simultaneously with time the world was made, if in the world's creation change and motion were created, as seems evident from the order of the first six or seven days. For in these days the morning and evening are counted, until, on the sixth day, all things which God then made were finished, and on the seventh the rest of God was mysteriously and sublimely signalized. What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say! (City of God, Book XI, Chapter 6; http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120111.htm)


Yes, I admit to some quote mining, which tactic I chose to employ knowing that I have no intent to prove that the Fathers positively support the claims of modern science that the earth are some 4.5 billion years old.  All I wanted to do was provide some select quotes from many of the Early Church Fathers whom you named in your list (and some to match with your "etc...") to suggest that maybe they're not of one mind on the concept of a young earth, that some of the leading ECFs actually DID posit something other than a "Young Earth Theory" (in keeping with your OP).  (IOW, I don't have to establish a consensus to prove the absence of consensus--all I need is to show some leading exceptions to prove my point.  You, however, need now to overcome the exceptions I have provided to prove consensus among the Early Fathers.)  My gratitude to John Tobin for compiling the list of references that I quoted above; his arguments that the Early Church Fathers didn't believe Young-Earth Creationism can be read by following this link:  http://home.entouch.net/dmd/churchfathers.htm
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« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2008, 07:43:30 PM »

As an addendum to the above, I think that maybe the dichotomy of literal vs. allegorical is probably not the best way to think of our approach to the Genesis creation narratives on this thread.  We both seem to agree that we need to understand the Scriptures according to their literal meaning.  Where we differ regards how we define the literal meaning of the words.  What exactly does "day" mean?  Does it mean 24 hours from sunset to sunset (as is consistent with our experience), or does it mean 1000 years (as it does to God)?  Either way is faithful to the literal sense of the word "day" as this is used in the Scriptures.
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« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2008, 08:57:23 PM »

As an addendum to the above, I think that maybe the dichotomy of literal vs. allegorical is probably not the best way to think of our approach to the Genesis creation narratives on this thread.  We both seem to agree that we need to understand the Scriptures according to their literal meaning.  Where we differ regards how we define the literal meaning of the words.  What exactly does "day" mean?  Does it mean 24 hours from sunset to sunset (as is consistent with our experience), or does it mean 1000 years (as it does to God)?  Either way is faithful to the literal sense of the word "day" as this is used in the Scriptures.

Grace and Peace PeterTheAleut,

Thanks Peter, actually I really appreciate the data-mining because I'd like to believe that 'spiritual' Truth isn't at the expense of 'natural' Truth (i.e. if you follow me).

I understood that the Origen and Clement and perhaps the Alexandrian School as a whole were very allegorical but I also know that a great deal of their ideas have been criticized by the Fathers so I'm careful looking toward them for guidance. Doesn't the Orthodox Church look at Cyprian and Augustine with question as well? Are there any others who posit a thousand year old day?

BTW, with regard to the death of Adam, I was always under the understanding that this was 'spiritual' death not 'actual' death but I'm pleased to learn about Justin Martyr's take on it.
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« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2008, 09:56:09 PM »

I understood that the Origen and Clement and perhaps the Alexandrian School as a whole were very allegorical but I also know that a great deal of their ideas have been criticized by the Fathers so I'm careful looking toward them for guidance.
Origenism was indeed condemned as heresy and its teacher a heretic, but I believe that was for his Neoplatonic belief in the eternity (no beginning) of creation, the preexistence of human souls, and (stay away from this one, GiC) apokatastasis.  I don't believe his allegorical approach to the Scriptures was wholly rejected, though.  I'm aware that Clement was also somewhat controversial, but I'm not sure why.  Regarding the rest of the Alexandrian School, this was throughout its history the school that gave us Arius the heresiarch yet also gave us such patristic giants as Athanasios (On the Incarnation of God the Word, which won out in Nicea I) and Cyril (the great opponent of Nestorius).  It doesn't appear to me that the Alexandrian School has received as chilly a reception among the Fathers as you may think.

Quote
Doesn't the Orthodox Church look at Cyprian and Augustine with question as well? Are there any others who posit a thousand year old day?
The Church actually owes the greater part of her ecclesiology (i.e., our understanding that there are no Sacramental Mysteries outside the Church) to Cyprian, and his teachings were ratified pretty much without reservation by the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Regarding St. Augustine, whereas we recognize his Confessions to be one of the best works ever written on repentance, many of his theological ideas have indeed become quite controversial, even more so since their further development in Western Christianity, but I'm not aware that the Orthodox reject or think little of ALL his doctrines simply because they're his.  For the most part, we recognize St. Augustine as merely one of many Fathers, and one of the less important Fathers, at that.

Quote
BTW, with regard to the death of Adam, I was always under the understanding that this was 'spiritual' death not 'actual' death but I'm pleased to learn about Justin Martyr's take on it.
Now, who's getting allegorical on us? Wink  If the Bible says Adam died, are we not to take this literally and say that he died physically?  Why allegorize this by claiming that his was a "spiritual" death only? Cool


Now on a different note:  First you list Clement, Origen, and Augustine as supporters of a literal interpretation of Genesis and, with that, a Creation spanning six literal 24-hour days.  Then, when I point out how they, in fact, taught contrary to Young-Earth Theory, you seek to minimize their role in our Patristic Tradition by proclaiming them controversial.  You cannot in one breath cite them as champions of the patristic consensus while also claiming that their teachings were largely rejected by the same patristic consensus.  Don't you see how this contradiction in your posts totally undermines your point of view? Huh  Just admit that you want to believe that Young-Earth Theory has the consent of the Early Church Fathers, regardless of what they ACTUALLY taught on this, and we'll be even. Wink
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« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2008, 01:31:55 AM »

Origenism was indeed condemned as heresy and its teacher a heretic, but I believe that was for his Neoplatonic belief in the eternity (no beginning) of creation, the preexistence of human souls, and (stay away from this one, GiC) apokatastasis.

I will...for now...but you shouldn't be making blanket dogmatic statements about controversial issues that have been discussed at length elsewhere (and solid arguments exist for both sides) if you don't want to start a debate. Wink
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« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2008, 12:04:37 PM »

Now on a different note:  First you list Clement, Origen, and Augustine as supporters of a literal interpretation of Genesis and, with that, a Creation spanning six literal 24-hour days.  Then, when I point out how they, in fact, taught contrary to Young-Earth Theory, you seek to minimize their role in our Patristic Tradition by proclaiming them controversial.  You cannot in one breath cite them as champions of the patristic consensus while also claiming that their teachings were largely rejected by the same patristic consensus.  Don't you see how this contradiction in your posts totally undermines your point of view? Huh  Just admit that you want to believe that Young-Earth Theory has the consent of the Early Church Fathers, regardless of what they ACTUALLY taught on this, and we'll be even. Wink

Try not to think of this as a debate. If I seem to be contradicting myself that is because I was either wrong in my assumption or I'm learning. Either way, it is a good thing not bad. Not everyone on these forums are driving tent poles in the ground and to stake a position. Some of us really are trying to understand 'how' one can hold a position by questioning it. That doesn't mean we are opposed to the position we just want to know how one can hold it against objection.

I don't claim to be a Young Earth Creationist. I simply want to understand how one can be consistent with the consensual teaching of the Church Fathers. I would have argued that I read Origen defending a Young Earth position against Celsus but perhaps I was wrong.
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« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2008, 01:29:28 PM »

Riddikulus,

Thank you for posting the article. It was most informative. It's nice for us non-scientists to have scientific principles explained in simple terms yet not oversimplified. I learned quite a bit from Dr. Wiens. Thank you.
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« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2008, 08:12:36 PM »

Riddikulus,

Thank you for posting the article. It was most informative. It's nice for us non-scientists to have scientific principles explained in simple terms yet not oversimplified. I learned quite a bit from Dr. Wiens. Thank you.

You are very welcome. I found the article most informative. I only hope that some of the information has actually penetrated my thick skull!!  Grin
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« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2008, 05:48:45 AM »

St. Augustine and Origen were really young earth, actually. They believed everything was created instantly and simultaneously and the structure of "days" are only to aid us in understanding this mystery, if I remember correctly.
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« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2008, 11:09:31 AM »

St. Augustine and Origen were really young earth, actually. They believed everything was created instantly and simultaneously and the structure of "days" are only to aid us in understanding this mystery, if I remember correctly.
Can you give us quotes of some of their writings to substantiate your claims?
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« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2008, 01:44:21 PM »

Can you give us quotes of some of their writings to substantiate your claims?

Sure. Robert Bradshaw writes:

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In his earlier works Augustine maintained that these were literal 24 hour days,(52) but later in his Literal Meaning of Genesis he changed his view.(53) The days of Genesis 1 were not for Augustine temporal periods at all, but a way of describing creation as it was revealed to the angels.(54) Six days are described, not because God needed that length of time, but because six is the first perfect number.(55) Thus the “...story of the six days is a dramatic representation of what took place at once as a whole.”(56) Augustine even suggests a logical framework for the six days, based on the numbers which make up the number 6 (1, 2 and 3)
http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter3.htm

This is from a detailed essay on Augustine from a Christian evolutionist website:

Quote
1. Augustine says that God created all things simultaneously.

There can be no mistaking that Augustine teaches that God created everything simultaneously in the beginning. Some things were made in fully developed form as we see them today, and other things were made in a potential form, so that in time they might become the way we see them now. Augustine went far beyond any superficial reading of the text by claiming that neither the creation nor the subsequent unfolding took place in six ordinary days. He is explicit that God did not create the world over the course of six temporal days. "The sacred writer was able to separate in the time of his narrative what God did not separate in time in His creative act" (p. 36).

2 Augustine says that the six-day creation structure has nothing to do with the passage of time during creation but is a logical framework

Augustine repeatedly stresses that the six days are not six successive ordinary days. They have nothing to do with time. For him, this is unequivocally the case for the first three days before the making of the sun, but he is equally inclined to say the same of the last three days. The days are repeatedly claimed to be arranged according to causes, order, and logic. For example: "These seven days of our time, although like the same days of creation in name and in numbering, follow one another in succession and mark off the division of time, but those first six days occurred in a form unfamiliar to us as intrinsic principles within things created" (p. 125). The days of creation "are beyond the experience and knowledge of us mortal earthbound men ... we must bear in mind that these days indeed recall the days of creation but without in any way being really similar to them" (p. 135). Further, "we should not think of those days as solar days.... He made that which gave time its beginning, as He made all things together, disposing them in an order based not on intervals of time but on causal connections" (p. 154). And finally, "But in the beginning He created all things together and completed the whole in six days, when six times he brought the 'day' which he made before the things which He made, not in a succession of periods of time but in a plan made known according to causes" (pp. 175-176). Why does the narrative employ the device of the six days? "The reason is that those who cannot understand the meaning of the text, He created all things together, cannot arrive at the meaning of Scripture unless the narrative proceeds slowly step by step" (p. 142).

As the six days have nothing to do with the passage of time, Augustine relates them to the knowledge that intellectual creatures-that is, angels-have of created things, both as they exist in the Word of God and as they exist in themselves. This knowledge was made known to the angels in the six ordering steps: "That day, which God has made, recurs in connection with His works not by a material passage of time but by a spiritual knowledge, when the blessed company of angels contemplate from the beginning in the Word of God the divine decree to create" (p. 134). Or, "The seven days ... with which we are familiar ... are like a shadow and a sign reminding us to seek those days wherein created spiritual light was able to be made present to all the works of God by the perfection of the number six" (p. 145). There is no doubt that Augustine's view is strange and difficult to absorb, but he has a ready comment for us: "And when you hear that all things were made after day was made, you may possibly understand this sixfold or sevenfold repetition which took place without lapse of time. If you cannot yet understand it, you should leave the matter for the consideration of those who can" (p. 150).
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Bible-Science/PSCF3-88Young.html

Also take note of what Robert Sungenis (an interesting Catholic apologist; let's leave it at that) says of St. Augustine's presuppositions:

Quote
As for Augustine, far from rejecting a literal six-day period, he did not for a moment suggest that the days of Genesis 1 could be billions of years long, and he never, in fact, rejected that the days of Genesis were 24 hours long. Rather, in one of his interpretations, Augustine suggested that perhaps God created everything instantaneously, and that the six days were the means by which the angels could comprehend, in stages, what God had made all at once.(3) In short, Augustine offered what he thought was a viable alternative to remedy what he believed were exegetical difficulties in interpreting Genesis 1 as six literal days, not to mention the fact that Augustine also had a penchant for spiritual interpretation.

The main reason Augustine had these difficulties is due to his self-imposed desire to find some place in Genesis 1 for the creation of the angels. Seeing no other place to put them, Augustine suggested that the creation of light in Genesis 1:3 served this purpose. This, of course, would force the other days to be representations of what the angels contemplated, but not necessarily in 24-hour segments. Since none of the other Fathers of the Church shared his concern about when the angels were created, Augustine acknowledged that his interpretation was only a possibility, and that he would gladly concede it if someone could harmonize the rest of the Genesis 1 text. In The Literal Meaning of Genesis he writes:

    Whoever, then, does not accept the meaning that my limited powers have been able to discover of conjecture but seeks in the enumeration of the days of creation a different meaning, which might be understood not in a prophetical or figurative sense, but literally and more aptly, in interpreting the works of creation, let him search and find a solution with God's help. I myself may possibly discover some other meaning more in harmony with the words of Scripture. I certainly do not advance the interpretation given above in such a way as to imply that no better one can ever be found, although I do maintain that Sacred Scripture does not tell us that God rested after feeling weariness and fatigue (Bk 4, Ch 28, No 45).

Another reason Augustine struggled with Genesis 1 was due to his unique interpretation of Ecclesiasticus 18:1. The Greek of the Septuagint translates it as: "He who lives forever has created all things in common." The word in question is "common," which is from the Greek koine, and normally means "in common" or "without exception." But the Latin Vulgate, from which Augustine read, translated koine with the words omnia simul,(4) which in Latin means "at one time" or "altogether." But the Vulgate's translation is at best questionable and at worst erroneous. Ecclesiasticus 18:1, at least in the original Greek, does not, in its primary meaning, say that the creation was made "at one time," but of what was made, the Lord created it all, with no exceptions. The context of the passage bears this meaning out,(5) and it is certainly the way the rest of the creation passages in Scripture describe God's work in Genesis, in addition to the fact that there is no other verse in Scripture which specifically indicates that God created everything "at one time." If the Greek author had wanted to impart the idea of "all at once" there were plenty of words at his disposal.(6) The reason this mistake may have happened is that Augustine's knowledge of Greek was at an elementary level when he began his commentary on Genesis in 401 AD.(7) It wasn't until he was an old man that he had a modest reading ability of Greek. Unfortunately, Augustine was dependent on the Vulgate's translation of Ecclesiasticus 18:1, and thus he could have easily misunderstood the meaning of the verse.(Cool
http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles/science/akin-genisis1.htm

And see also City of God 12.10: "They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed." http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120112.htm

As for Origen, it's less clear what he thought the days consisted of, but take note of what Robert Bradshaw writes in his Creationism and the Early Church: "Even those who rejected literal 24 hour days still believed in a young earth as Table 3.4 demonstrates. Origen believed that the world was less than 10 000 years old and Clement thought it was still younger." http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter3.htm

See Against Celsus 1.19: "After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated." http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04161.htm

Now, as for Sts. Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, they are only concerning themselves with an apparent contradiction in scripture, that God says that Adam, after eating the fruit, would die on that very day. Well, obviously he didn't. Their point is that since Adam died within the space of a thousand years, this is not a contradiction, since a day, from God's perspective, is "as a thousand years." But this shouldn't be applied to the creation days, which are of course not from God's perspective, but that of their chronicler Moses, a mere man. And so these are human days. On this, read what the aforementioned Robert Bradshaw writes:

Quote
Progressive creationist Dr. Hugh Ross interprets the evidence presented above rather differently. He argues that the fathers believed that the days of Genesis were a thousand years in length and not 24 literal hours.(7) Ross cites two writers in support of his position: Justin Martyr and Irenaeus of Lyons. Justin Martyr wrote:

    Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, “According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound, obscurely predicts a thousand years. For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete a thousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, “The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,” is connected with this subject.(Cool

Irenaeus:

    And there are some again, who relegate the death of Adam to the thousandth year; for since “a day of the Lord is as a thousand years,” he did not overstep the thousand years, but died within them, thus bearing out the sentence of his sin. Whether, therefore, with respect to disobedience, which is death; whether [we consider] that, on account of that, they were delivered over to death, and made debtors to it; whether with respect to [the fact that on] one and the same day on which they ate they also died (for it is one day of the creation); whether [we regard this point] that with respect to this cycle of days, they died on the day in which they did also eat, that is, the day of the preparation, which is termed “the pure supper,” that is, the sixth day of the feast, which the Lord also exhibited when He suffered on that day; or whether [we reflect] that he (Adam) did not overstep the thousand years, but died within their limit…(9)

Both of these early Christian writers argue that because Adam was told that he would die on the day that he sinned, therefore he lived for less than a thousand years which is a day in the Lord’s sight (cf. Psalm 90:4). Irenaeus adds a further parallel between Adam and Christ: they both died on the sixth day of the week. Taken in isolation it might be concluded from this that both believed that all the days of creation were a thousand years in length, as well as the “days” of the history of the earth. Further research shows that the idea that Adam’s life span being less than a thousand year “day” was not a new one. It originated in Jewish literature and is found in the Book of Jubilees (c.105-153 BC):

    And at the close of the Nineteenth Jubilee, in the seventh week in the sixth year thereof Adam died, and all his sons buried him in the land of his creation, and he was the first to be buried on the earth. And he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; of one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: “On the day ye eat thereof ye shall die.” For this reason he did not complete the years of this day; for he died during it.(10)

A similar saying occurs in Bereshith Rabba on Genesis 3:8: “I said to him, on the day thou eatest of it, thou shalt surely die. But you know not whether it is one of My days or one of yours. Behold I give him one of my days which is as a thousand years.”(11) This last quote appears to me to give us the key to understanding how the various “days” were viewed. There seems to be a distinction being made between one of the Lord’s “days” and one of man’s “days”. The former are a thousand years in length, the latter last for 24 hours. This would explain how Irenaeus, a few chapters after the passage quoted above is able to write:

    For in six days as the world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all his works.” This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of the things to come. For that day of the Lord is a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.(12)

So Irenaeus seems to have seen no contradiction here. For him the days of Genesis were 24 hours long and served as a pattern for the history of the world. Adam lived for 930 years, which was 70 years less than a full “day of the Lord” and so he solved an apparent contradiction in Scripture. Justin Martyr makes no further reference to the days of creation, so we are unable to confirm that he too believed the days of Genesis to be “human” days, but it seems likely that he followed what appears to be an accepted practice. Later writers, such as Hippolytus, Lactantius, Victorinus of Pettau do not mention the “explanation” of Adam’s life span given by Justin and Irenaeus probably because they understood Genesis 2:17 (“...on the day you eat of it you will die...”) differently.
http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter3.htm

The quote from St. Cyprian, which is somewhat obscure, appears to be a parallel between the number of creation days and the number of years the earth will last, connected with what was written of St. Irenaeus above. Read what Bradshaw writes:

Quote
The belief that the world would last 7 000 years appears to have been almost universally accepted by the early church (see Table 3.2). The early church writers based their teaching on the days of Genesis 1, Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8 and the biblical genealogies. They reasoned that as God created in six days and a day is as a thousand years, therefore the earth would last for 6 000 years. After this would come a thousand years of rest, equivalent to the seventh day. The same idea is found in Jewish literature. The Babylonian Talmud refers to a chronological scheme by which history is divided into three ages of 2 000 years each: an age of chaos; the age of the Law, and the age of the Messiah.(3) A thousand years of rest would follow.(4)  Because the origin of this teaching cannot be dated accurately we cannot say with certainty if the belief was widespread within Judaism or at what time it originated.
http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/Chapter3.htm
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