There has been much confusion about the 'Days of Creation' of Genesis. One may find several opinions among Christians and some now say that a Christian can adopt any of these opinions and remain true to the Faith, but is that really true? Do all of these opinions really concur with the biblical revelation? Or are certain such opinions actually expressions of doubt about Holy Scripture?
Okay, so what are the "DAYS"? And how long were they?
Firstly, here are some dates which have been suggested for Creation:
- Septuagint 5270 BC
- Jewish 3760 BC
- Josephus 5555 BC
- Luther 3961 BC
- Kepler 3993 BC
- Ussher 4004 BC
Now, Some Interpretations of the Meaning of "Days"
- Revelational day: God revealed to Moses how He He created the world over 6
visionary days, or during a 6 day period.
- Long periods of time -- a geological age -- a "day-age."
- Literal days (24 hours), separated by long ages.
- Literal days (24 hours) in a literal account.
See below for more details...
Theories of the Origin of the Universe Which Christians Have
God used natural (evolutionary) processes to bring all things
The 'days' of Genesis only poetic/allegorical, something for
all ages and all cultures of all time. Only the WHO and
WHY are important. While the concept of God creating Man
'From the dust of the ground' might seem to accomodate
this belief, it seems too far removed from what the text actually
says. If great ages were involved, would not the regular use of
'day' be misleading? According to this theory, there
were earlier 'man-like' creatures, closer to apes and the product
of evolution, which did not have access to God; 'Adam' became a
purely symbolic - not literal - figure of the first man to have
access to God.
None of this seems to fit with the heavily literalistic
feeling of the Genesis account.
Each "day" of the creation week was actually a long (geological)
period of time.
Obviously such an interpretation seriously increases the
figurative/allegorical sense and would immediately make much of
the Genesis account completely unreliable. How did the vegetation
of 'the third day' survive for possibly a great age before the
sunshine of 'the fourth day'?
Again, the main problem is the literalistic sense of the
Creation indeed took just 6x24 hour days. But there were enormous
periods of time between the 'days.'
But the Genesis account is strongly consecutive with
no space for gaps between the 'days' nor in any other sense. The
questions over honesty increase; Why would God purposely
mislead and confuse by making the account appear so literalistic?
Is this not the same God who inspired, 'Don't bear false
God created heaven and earth which continued for an undetermined
length of time, maybe millions of years (Genesis 1:1). He
destroyed it during a "gap" between verses 1 and 2. Then, He
recreated it from verse 2, in six 24 hour days. This theory was
developed by J.N. Darby and then popularized (mainly in the U.S.) by C. I. Scofield and
his Scofield Reference Bible. it has lost much support in recent years.
According to the usual version of this, the rebellion of the
angels took place between 'day one' and 'day two,' and God
destroyed the original creation. Many 'gappists' believe that the
dinosaurs were destroyed at the same time. So the following
'days' of creation were actually the days of a
The main problem here is that the text gives no indication of a
break between these verses whatsoever, it is an artificial
insertion against the run of the Hebrew. 'Gappists' have
also made erroneous claims about the meaning of 'tohu' and bohu'
to help support their claim, a claim which was clearly a
'sell-out' in order to accommodate evolution. They effectively
filed evolution away between verses one and two in order to avoid
dealing with it. Only a very few continue to accept this
theory; typically, these people often claim that Darwin was "misunderstood," but this is a huge mistake. Atheistic Darwinism is a most potent enemy of the Christian Faith.
Genesis 1-11 is not literal but thematic, being composed
of various themes ("creation," "fall," "reconciliation,"
etc.) which are simply introduced here, but then recur throughout
Scripture. Or, one might say that it is only "poetic,"
"allegorical,", or possibly "supra-historical." According to this theory, nothing here
should be seen as having literally occurred within human history.
Comes straight out of liberal theology, later being further
'fine-tuned' by the existentialist theology of the Neo-Orthodox
theologians. The majority of these people did not even believe
that the Passion of Christ occurred in human history, but that it
was a 'supra-historical' event.
|Please notice that all the above try to reconcile
vast stretches of time with what appears to be a few thousand
years in the Bible. A common cliché is, "The Bible does
not give the date of the earth's origin."
Literal days of creation with a Young Earth/Universe, and a
God created the earth and universe miraculously and mature. Great
catastrophes have occurred during the earth's history which
account for all the geological deposits. The greatest of these
was Noah's Flood which was universal.
The Flood and it's aftermath catastrophes created many layers of
sediment and account for much of the geology with its
Fits the Biblical account perfectly.
Important Factors in Determining the Length of Days
- The use of the phrase "evening and morning" is the Hebrew
definition of a 24 hour day and is in current use today to mean
the same thing. It is used this way more than 100 times in the
Old Testament (Tanach) and each time it always means a 24 hour
day. If the writer wanted to convey the impression of 6 LITERAL
days, how else would he have worded it? Would he word it this way
if he really meant "long ages"? Long ages do not have evenings
- Ordinal numbers are used in reference to the days: first,
second, third, etc. Ordinal numbers are always used to
indicate 24 hour days more than 200 times in the Old Testament
and over 100 times in the New Testament. Even today that is how
the days of the week are named in Hebrew.
- In Hebrew, 95% of the time the word yom normally means
a 24 hour day. (See a Hebrew lexicon for the meaning of
yom). Yom is used 1200 times to mean "day" in
Scripture, and 700 times in its plural form to mean "days". Only
5% of the time (about 65 times) is yom used to indicate an
indefinite period of time or an event (as in, for example, the
"day of the Lord"). Normally, when it is used to refer to
something besides a literal 24 hour day, there is usually some
indication, such as yom rab, which means a "long time".
Another word, olam, is used when "ages" or "aeons" of time
- The Day of Rest (the 7th day) must have been literal. In
Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments equate a 7 day week with the
creation week. In Exodus 31:12-17, keeping the Sabbath is to be a
sign of a witness to God's creation of the world.
Objections to a Literal Day Interpretation
- "II Peter 3:18 states that 'one day equals 1000 years'." This
can go both ways -- what SEEMS like 1000 years can equal only a
day. [It is interesting to note, during New Testament times, many
Jewish scholars felt that the 24 hour days in Creation were
representative of the 1000 year periods of the ages of man. Even
today the rabbis speak of there being six thousand years given to
man and then Messiah will come.]
- "Too much happened on the 6th day for it to be only 24 hours
-- first Adam was made, then all of the animals, then they were
named, then Adam was lonely, then Eve was made -- all in one
day?" [If all the animals were in Adam's presence and brought
before him for the naming, it would only take a few hours for him
to name them. We should also bear in mind that the animal kinds
were undoubtedly simpler than today, with the various creatures
having the genetic information for later variations.
Possibly only one cat of the cat family, for example.]
- "A long day-age (long periods of time) fits the geological
scheme better." [This perception of the lengthy "geological
scheme" ignores the Flood and it's cataclysmic destruction --
ages are not needed. Too much credit is being given to
The belief that yom represents long ages would also seem to allow for
death BEFORE Adam even sinned in the Garden of Eden - this would seriously undermine the biblical teaching. Adam's age
is stated in Scripture; belief in ages for creation days does not
Attempts to stretch time appear to be an effort to accomodate
an evolutionary philosophy and worldview. From a purely biblical
pespective on an apparently day-by-day literal account, the time
sequence should not be altered.
Again, thanks to Dr Livingston for the basic idea of this
chart, and for some of the information.
UK Apologetics, 2009.