Is Third Day in Genesis Creation narrative the same as other Days?? My statistical model for Genesis creation links the scientific time-scale (in terms of billions of years since Big-Bang) to Genesis narrative (in terms of “Days”). However, Third Day narrative had been excluded from the data used in the statistical analysis that led to the final highly-significant statistical model.
Why was that?
The answer is straightforward: Genesis narrative for Third Day (Genesis 1:9-13) implies that Earth and all vegetation (plants, trees, grass and else) had preceded formation of the sun and the moon on the fourth day (“and God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night”, Genesis 1:16).
This seems strange and defies current scientific knowledge. Thus, the mystery remains: If all other Genesis “Days” fit nicely (in the statistical model) with current scientific knowledge, what is special about Third Day that it does not?
I have long been tormented by this question, which seems to undermine and defy the notion that Genesis Creation is a faithful description of the timeline of modern science (as has been validated via the highly-significant statistical model). But then I was reminded of a known idiom, repeatedly uttered by Jewish sages:
“Torah spoke as in human language” (“דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם”).
What this idiom implies is that although Torah source is Divine it does speak in human terms so that humans can understand Torah and relate to it.
To realize how this idiom is relevant to the “Third Day Quandary”, let us be reminded of the prevailing world view throughout ancient times, in fact until the time of Copernicus (1473-1543). The prevailing view was the geocentric model (also known as Geo-centrism, or the Ptolemaic system; In what follows we pursue Wikipedia, “Geocentric model”). This model reigned supreme for over 1500 years of human history, and it had served as cornerstone description of the cosmos in numerous ancient civilizations, such as those of Aristotle and Ptolemy. According to this model, the sun, moon, stars, and planets all encircle Earth (“geo”), therefore Earth is the center of the universe.
Two observations supported this idea:
- The sun appears to revolve around Earth once per day. While the moon and the planets have their own particular motions, which change over time, they also appear to revolve around Earth about once per day. The stars appeared to be on a celestial sphere, rotating once each day along an axis through the north and south geographic poles of Earth;
- Earth does not seem to move from the perspective of an Earth-bound observer; it appears to be solid, stable, and unmoving.
(refer, however, to page 118 in my book, where I describe why Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508) expressed objection to the geocentric model, based purely on his logical analysis of the root of the Hebrew word for Earth).
Geocentrism (Ptolemy’s geocentric model) stayed unchallenged in Western culture until the 16th century, when, through the synthesis of the theories of Copernicus and Kepler, it was gradually superseded by the current scientifically validated Heliocentric model (Sun-centered model) of Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler.
Genesis Third Day description is realization of the geocentric world view, prevailing in ancient times. If the sun and the moor rotate around Earth, the latter must have been formed earlier than the former. There is no other way to describe creation and remain faithful to the intuitive geocentric view. Thus, Genesis Third Day narrative had become a prerequisite for Genesis creation to preserve any semblance of reliability. Being consistent with the then prevailing geocentric world view, Torah ensured that the ancient Israelites would have accepted it as of Divine origin and not reject it outright as utterly false. Just try to imagine Torah telling ancient Israelites that the sun and mood, rotating Earth, had been formed prior to Earth. Would Torah then be acceptable to them? “Torah spoke as in human language”.
Is there any signature to the Third Day, pointing to it as somewhat unlike all other days?
I believe there is: This is the only day where the words “and God saw that it was good” appear twice. This is in stark contrast to the “routine” employed in all other days, where Torah expresses this idea in its typical succinct way, namely, stating this only once.
This unique feature of the Third Day perhaps has a mission: Telling us that this description of events, supposedly taking place on Third Day, intends to speak to us in the then humanly comprehensible language. But only for a limited period of time, that is, until the emergence of the scientifically validated Helio-centric world view.
Exclusion of Third Day events from the data, used to derive the highly significant statistical model, thus seems to be corroborated and completely justified.
*Shorty is a short post