Six Days or Not?
The question about whether the six days of creation are to be taken as literal, 24-hour days is one that has been hotly debated for the past few decades. It is a subject that must be examined prayerfully, seeking out God’s knowledge and wisdom, since the first chapter of the first book of God’s Word is the foundation for the entire scripture which is held dear. If a wrong conclusion is reached or a rash decision is made, it could destroy the entire testimony and witness of the rest of God’s Holy Word. After all, if God’s Word is wrong about this subject in the very beginning, what else is wrong about the Bible? Even God’s Word, itself, states that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf.” It is impossible to fully accept the inspired, inerrant Word of God and accept that the days of creation are long periods of time.
Before this subject is examined, a foreword must be written regarding the view of God’s Word. Is God’s Word accurate, absolutely true and without contradiction? What belief is gleaned from the subject in question lays the cornerstone for this entire subject. If we take God’s Word as the inspired revelation from Almighty God, then we must believe that it is absolutely true, without error or fallacy.
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The word for “inspired” is the Greek word theopneustos which is derived from the Greek pneo. Pneo means “blow” or “wind.” So when we say that all scripture is inspired by God, it is as if we are literally saying that God spoke the scriptures to us Himself. How appropriate that God’s Word would be described in such a way! And since it is inspired and spoken by the Lord, the scriptures are absolutely profitable for doctrine and instruction in this matter of six days.
Another couple of verses which answer the question of the reliability of the Word of God are found in Romans and Psalms. Romans 3:4 declares “Let God be true, but every man a liar…” When the question arises if we should trust God’s revelation or man’s intellect, there is no question that God, as the sovereign and mighty source of all knowledge and wisdom, is the most reliable source for truth. Psalms 119:160 tells us that “Thy word is true from the beginning.” Every letter, jot, tittle and word is without error. We can rely absolutely on the record of God revealed to us in His holy word, and should be the primary source of interpreting the answer to the question of the length of the six days of creation.
In the course of this article, the question of the length of the days in the six days of creation will be discussed. Were they actual 24-hour days, or were they periods of hundreds of millions of years? The meaning and use of the Hebrew word for day will be scrutinized in the context in which it is used. The inspired description of the solar cycle in relation to these days will be examined, also. In addition to these points, the theological implications of attempting to make hundreds of millions of years fit in the six days of creation will be discussed, including the impossibility of the survival of plant life if such theories were to be accepted.
THE MEANING OF A DAY
When examining the question of the length of the six days of creation as recorded in Genesis 1, it is important to examine the word “day.” The Hebrew word for “day” as it is used in Genesis 1 is the word yom. Yom is used a total of 2287 times in the Old Testament. It is translated 2008 times as the word “day.” The argument by many is that yom can also mean a long period of time. The truth is that yom is translated as “year” only 14 times, “time” only, 64 times and “ever” just 18 times. None of these translated words can be mistaken for long ages, especially when examined within the immediate context in which they are used. This thinking is an attempt to perpetuate the theory that the days of creation are really an allegory meaning that God completed His creation over millions or billions of years in an attempt to make the Holy Bible fit with modern scientific theories that postulate that the Earth is billions of years old, not thousands of years old. We must be very careful when attempting to reconcile the Word of God with man’s science: good, true science will always point to the Bible, not point away from it.
It is also interesting to note that yom, translated as “day,” is used with a number 410 times and it is used with “evening” and “morning” 38 times in scripture. It is used with “evening” or “morning” 23 times, while “night” is used with “day” 52 times. When this evidence is examined in the light of the evidence that yom is translated nearly exclusively as “day,” the proof should be clear that we should accept the word day to mean a 24-hour day, and not a long age.
This proof shows that a plain interpretation of the word to mean just what it says should be sufficient, but let us dissect a fine example. Exodus 20:11 says, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Each instance of the word “day” in this verse is the Hebrew yom. If we are to believe that yom actually does mean age, then this verse makes no sense. Are we to believe that God rested on the seventh age of millions of years and blessed millions of years for rest and worship? The children of Israel only took a 24 hour Sabbath! Or do we mix up how we interpret yom and try to assume that its first use in this verse actually describes long ages and the other two are 24-hour days? In light of the fact that God is the author of order and truth, and not the author of confusion, it should be presumed that the word means what it says: it is a literal, 24-hour day and not a long age.
DESCRIPTION OF A SOLAR CYCLE
Another deliberate point that must be examined in proving that the six days of creation are literal 24-hour days is the point of how God’s Word describes the days at the end of each day of creation. Six different times in Genesis 1, the holy scripture states that “evening and morning were the first day,” and “evening and morning were the second day,” and so on (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). The word “evening” (‘ereb) is used 125 times in the Old Testament as either even, evening or night. On the other hand, the word morning (boqer) is translated in the Old Testament 201 times as either morning, morrow or early.
It is interesting to note that God, in His eternal wisdom, gives the parameters for what is daytime and what is nighttime. In Genesis 1:5, it states that “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.” It is God who defines for us that the daytime has light and that the nighttime is dark. These are definite, set times, and this vividly describes what we now know as the solar cycle. Although the sun, moon and stars would not be created for another three days, the cycle is firmly established by God’s creative work, and the laws of nature are formalized in this Godly step.
The fact that God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructed Moses to deliberately describe each day as “evening and morning,” using words that cannot be mistaken to mean anything else, is most significant. A literal solar cycle is described in each of these six verses at the end of each creative day. Therefore, the ordinary, plain interpretation of what is meant is clear: a literal, 24-hour day is not only implied, but the interpretation of a 24-hour day is actually demanded. Whereas there could be a pinch of confusion about what “day” could mean, there can be absolutely no doubt that God intends the interpretation of a solar cycle, and this means that the days of creation are actual 24-hour days as we now know them.
ALTERNATE THEORIES OF COMPROMISE AND THEIR THEOLOGICAL / DOCTRINAL PROBLEMS
Another new point that must be theologically examined is how attempting to make the days of creation long ages hundreds of millions of years long instead of days. The Ruin-Reconstruction or Gap Theory attempts to fit billions of years in Genesis 1 by stating that between verse one and two there is an indeterminable period of time during which a pre-Adamic race lived, was judged by God and destroyed. This partly is why there are fossils in the layers of strata that are discovered by geologists. The Day-Age Theory states that each day of creation is actually an age of hundreds of millions of years. The idea is that the fossils, presumed to be millions of years old according to naturalistic science, were created as animals died after being created on days five and six because of the supposed long period of time.
If it were assumed that either one of these theories was correct, there is a problem with the emergence and effect of sin. According to Genesis 3, man fell into sin after the seventh day of creation when the woman was tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit, then gave it to Adam to eat. Man immediately felt the effects of sin, which included shame, fear and perception of his nudity. Man also knew the pain of being spiritually separated from God.
The first theological problem with these theories is God’s declaration about the state of His creation at the end of each day. At the end of the first six days, God saw what He had made and declared that it was good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). In Genesis 1:31, God finally looks over his completed creation and declared that it was very good. If this were true, how could a wise, good, loving God look over his creation at the end of days five and six, see death and declare it good or very good? Was death, decay, disease, and bloodshed part of God’s original plan, or was it a perversion of His original plan? Certainly, such death would not be part of God’s original plan for His creation which would declare His glory, made for His pleasure!
Another theological issue is the imputation of death because of sin. Romans 5:12 clearly says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…” The teaching here is unmistakable: death in men was the direct result of the fall in the garden near Eden. The argument could be made that while death passed upon man, that does not solve the problem of the fossils of animals that are found.
According to Romans 5:21-22, “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Basically put, “the creature” (ktisis meaning creature or all creation), is under sin’s penalty of death and decay. In fact, the scripture further expounds that the “whole creation,” meaning everything created, is suffering the “pain” of sin since the fall in the garden. This would include mankind, animals and plants. Even the ground, earth and elements would be affected (Genesis 3:17-19).
It must never be forgotten that in Genesis 3:18, God declares that thorns and thistles would start to grow. But if one is to accept the Day-Age Theory, there is a problem with this verse. If God did not cause the thorns and thistles to begin to grow until after the seventh day, why are there various fossils of thorns, specifically the psilophyton crenulatum from the lower Devonian supposedly from around 480 million years ago? If God cursed the earth with thorns after Adam sinned, then why do we find thorns in the fossil record? This is yet another problem that does not align with the Word of God.
IMPOSSIBILITY OF PLANT SURVIVAL UNDER THE DAY-AGE THEORY
Another point with which to grapple if one accepts the Day-Age Theory is the problem of plant survival. Remember that plant life was created on day three and that the sun, moon and stars were created the following day, with fish, birds and insects being created on the fifth day.
In order for plants to survive, they must consume food by the process of photosynthesis. In the Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a scientific definition of photosynthesis is given. It says “photosynthesis is a metabolic pathway that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Therefore sunlight is required for photosynthesis to occur. But if plants were created on the day before the sun was created, how are the plants supposed to have survived hundreds of millions of years without sunlight to process their food through photosynthesis? It is impossible, according to science.
Continuing with this thought, what about pollination? It is known that insects such as bees are vital in the process of pollination in order to promote plant growth and life. Yet again, if the insects did not come until two ages of millions of years later, how were the plants able to survive such a long period of time without dying? And relating the theological question of death discussed earlier, if man had not yet sinned, how would the plants be able to die since sin and death did not enter into the equation, yet?
In conclusion, it is impossible to fully accept the inspired, inerrant Word of God and accept that the days of creation are long periods of time. The use of the Hebrew word yom, in the immediate and extended context of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 clearly reveal that God intended the days to be assumed and accepted as 24 hour days. This point is finally proven by His deliberate description of the solar cycle when the scripture says “evening and morning were the first (second, third and so on) day.”
Given the doctrine from God’s Word that sin did not enter into the world until after man fell in the Garden near Eden, it would be impossible to see evidence of death, decay, violence and bloodshed during the six days of creation. But if one were to accept that the days of creation were long ages of time that equal hundreds of millions of years, then a conflict immediately arises.