The “Fourth Day” In Genesis -- By: H. W. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:257 (Jan 1908)
Article: The “Fourth Day” In Genesis
Author: H. W. Magoun


The “Fourth Day” In Genesis

H. W. Magoun

The peculiarities of the “fourth day” in Genesis (1:14–19) have often been wondered at, and various efforts have been made to explain them. For one thing, no life is mentioned. This, however, need occasion no difficulty. The life of the preceding period had perished at the beginning of this one, and the life of this period had likewise been blotted out long before man appeared on the earth. Some exceptions there were; but exceptions can be ignored in general statements. Working with a limited vocabulary and knowing nothing of these early forms of life, the author of Genesis could hardly be expected to improvise anything on the subject. These forms did not concern him. The renewal of life which took place in his “fifth day” did concern him, and he appears to have treated that part of his work with due accuracy. A concise popular general statement concerning creation is not the same thing as a modern geological treatise, and it is unfair to assume that it is, or to be too exacting about minor details. The author is therefore justified in omitting all mention of life. He confines his attention to a single astronomical change,—the completion of the present arrangement of the heavenly bodies with respect to the seasons, the days, and the nights. Some fundamental alteration in the solar system) seems to be implied, and we know that it was a period of convulsions and cataclysms. Tracing the action of the tides back analytically, Sir George Darwin came to the conclusion a few years ago that the earth and the moon

were once a single pear-shaped body rotating in about five hours. Astronomy now confirms this hypothesis, as Dr. Lowell has recently shown;2 for in no other way could the surface of the moon have obtained its present roughness, which indicates an amount of original heat out of all proportion to its mass. If it broke away from the earth after both were fairly cool, as present conditions seem to indicate; an explanation has been found for much more than the condition of the moon’s exterior, since it may now be possible to account for the presence of so much land in the Northern Hemisphere, for the disturbances and heat which produced our mines of anthracite and graphite, for the fluctuations in the earth’s crust which formed the mountains of this period, for the destruction of Paleozoic life, and in all probability for the strange inclination of the earth’s axis to the plane of the ecliptic. Instead of contradicting the nebular hypothesis, then, as he has been accused of doing, Moses has met its deeper requirements in a most remarkable way. Present relations in the sola...

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