Days of creation
The days of creation were the sequence of six days during which God created the cosmos, the earth, as well as life (specifically plants, animals, and humans). The events are described in the Biblical book of Genesis chapters one and two. The creation days were followed by a single day of rest, which is the basis for seven-day work week that is used by the majority of people on Earth.
The account in Genesis 1 describes the components that were created by God on each of the six days. Many people argue that these "days" should not be viewed as literal 24 hour periods. However, not only is it very reasonable to assume that the most straightforward reading of these passages should take place, there are numerous textual indicators supporting the straightforward reading. It is also important to recognize that God created time and language, and described these events in terms that clearly define the length of time involved.
Contrasting ViewsThe young earth creationism position understands the days of creation as literal 24 hour periods of time. These events are taken to encompass the creation of everything - from the beginning of the universe to the appearance of man, as described by God Himself in the Ten Commandments:
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them... Exodus 20:11
An old earth creationist position known as Progressive creationism or day-age creationism, holds that the account in Genesis is true, but argue that the Creation "days" were not 24-hour periods. This view is derived from an attempt to reconcile the Bible with the the secular timescale as required by the theory of evolution and secular cosmologies. Numerous supporters of this view have admitted that this is their rationale, as, for example, Pattle Pun:
It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith.
It is therefore believed that each "day" of creation lasted for long periods of time (an age); thus the name "day-age creationism". According to this view, the sequence and duration of the creation "days" is representative or symbolic of the sequence and duration of events that scientists theorize to have happened, such that Genesis can be read as a summary of modern science, simplified for the benefit of pre-scientific humans.
Comparison to Secular Views
Although the sequence of creation events may appear superficially similar to the assertions of materialistic science, a closer look illustrates some serious incompatibilities. Events in both Big Bang Cosmology and the Theory of Evolution deviate sharply from those described in the Biblical creation.
|Evolution Sequence||Creation Sequence|
|Sun/stars existed before Earth||Earth created before sun/stars|
|Sun is Earth's first light||Light on Earth before sun|
|First life was marine organisms||First life was land plants|
|Reptiles predate birds||Birds predate land reptiles|
|Land mammals predate whales||Whales predate land mammals|
|Humans lived and died before Adam||Adam was first man, and death followed his sin.|
Meaning of "day"
The word "day" (Hebrew: Yom = יוֹם) can hold one of several meanings and is used variably within the Bible. The exact definition of the word is derived from the context in which it is used by the author. Several of such meanings include:
- A general or vague concept of time.
- A period of a year.
- A period of light in a day/night cycle.
- A period of 24 hours.
- A specific point in time.
Progressive creationists argue in favor of a non-literal (non-24 hour) interpretation of the word "Day" in Genesis 1. It is generally held the Hebrew word Yom may represent vast periods of time. However, how the word is used in each case depends on the context, and there are several indicators that ordinary days are intended. For example, the author of Genesis described the events with specific details that clarify what is meant. The length of time in question is defined and reinforced in each case with the phrase "And there was evening, and there was morning". This added notation makes clear to all who read these passages that the author intended to convey to the reader the meaning that each day of the creation week was equivalent to an ordinary solar day (24-hour period of time). In addition, the word yom, just like the word day in English, only ever means an ordinary day when used with a number, as is the case in Genesis 1.
Further support lies with how the word "Day" is used elsewhere in scripture. In every instance where a day is described in the Bible using this terminology outside of Genesis, it always means an ordinary day.
- Day, plus a Number is used 410 times (in plural or singular), and always means an ordinary day.
- Evening and Morning, together without Day, is used 28 times, and always means an ordinary day.
- Evening, or Morning, with Day, is used 23 times, and always means an ordinary day.
- Night, with Day, is used 52 times and always means an ordinary day.
|“||The terms “evening” (Hebrew ereb) and “morning” (Hebrew boqer) each occur more than one hundred times in the Old Testament, and always have the literal meaning - that is, the termination of the daily period of light and the termination of the daily period of darkness, respectively. Similarly, the occurrence of “day” modified by a numeral (e.g., “third day”) is a construction occurring more than a hundred times in the Pentateuch alone, always with the literal meaning.||”|
|“||The Hebrew grammar of Genesis shows that Genesis 1–11 has the same literary style as Genesis 12–50, which no one doubts is historical narrative. For example, the early chapters of Genesis frequently use the construction called the ‘waw consecutive,’ usually an indicator of historical sequence. Genesis 1–11 also has several other trademarks of historical narrative, such as ‘accusative particles’ that mark the objects of verbs, and terms that are often carefully defined. And the Hebrew verb grammar of Genesis 1 has a particular feature that fits exactly what would be expected if it were representing a series of past events. That is, only the first verb is perfect (a type called qatal), while the verbs that continue the narrative are imperfect (a type called wayyiqtol or waw consecutive). In Genesis 1, the first verb is bara (create) which is perfect, while the subsequent verbs that move the narrative forward are imperfect. But parallelisms, which are characteristic of Hebrew poetry, are absent from Genesis, except where people are cited, e.g., Genesis 4:23. If Genesis were truly poetic, it would use parallelisms throughout.||”|
Another argument for a literal interpretation of the word "day" in the creation account is the calendar week. The majority of our calendar is based on astronomical events. The day is the length of time it takes for the Earth to revolve once on its axis. The month is the length of time required for the moon to orbit the Earth. And the years is based on the how long it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun. In contrast, the week is not based on any astronomical event, but rather the creation as described in the Bible.
God states that the creation took place during seven ordinary days. In Exodus 20:11: when God inscribes the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone for Moses He says: "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
It is from the creation week and the day of rest that God proclaimed, that we get our 7-day work week. God defined the creation time periods as "days", and likewise instructed us to rest after 6 days as He did.
Day 1 - God created Earth, space, time and light.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." - Genesis 1:1-5
Day 2 - God created the atmosphere.
"And God said, 'Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.' So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse 'sky.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day." - Genesis 1:6-8
Day 3 - God created dry land and plants.
"And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground 'land,' and the gathered waters he called 'seas.' And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day." - Genesis 1:9-13
Day 4 - God created the sun, moon, and stars.
"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day." - Genesis 1:14-19
Day 5 - God created sea creatures and birds.
"And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day." - Genesis 1:20-23
Day 6 - God created land animals and man.
"And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:24-27
- Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987; quoted by Creation Ministries International.
- Yom Biblos.com. Accessed January 1, 2012.
- Samples, Kenneth. The Nature and Duration of Creation Day Six Reasons to Believe. March 12, 2007.
- Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Compromise. Greenforest AR: Master Books, 2004. p39
- Morris, Henry M., The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 1976. p64.
- Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution 2. Greenforest AR: Master Books, 2002. pp43-44.
- Steinmann, A., 2002. אחד (Echad) as an Ordinal Number and the Meaning of Genesis 1:5 (PDF), Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS) 45(4):577–584 (argues that the numbering and definite article patterns of Genesis 1 indicate 24-hour days)
- Hasel, G.F., 1994. The ‘days’ of creation in Genesis 1: Literal ‘days’ or figurative ‘periods/epochs’ of time?, Origins 21(1):5–38 (defends literal days).
- McCabe, R.V., 2000. A Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week (PDF), Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5:97–123, 2000
- Stambaugh, 1991. Days of Creation: A semantic approach Journal of Creation 5(1):70–78 (analyses the meaning of Hebrew yôm ("day") in different context and long-age words, concludes that creation days were 24 hours)
- Sarfati, J., 2003. Biblical chronogenealogies, Journal of Creation 17(3):14–18 (defends Masoretic chronology of Gen. 5 & 11, and rejects gaps)
- A Biblical Case for Literal Creation Days: So How Long Were They? by Laura Adele Price