Several Reasons To Think That The Creation Days Are Long Time Periods



There is a divide within Christendome on the issue of the Doctrine of Creation. Christians debate over whether the “days” of the creation week in Genesis 1 are 24 hours or whether they’re long time periods, whether God took 144 hours to create or whether He created over 14 billion years as modern science seems to suggest. Unfortunately, conversations can get very heated when brothers and sisters in Christ debate this issue among each other. I hold the view that the “days” of creation in Genesis 1 are indeed long time periods. This is not only because scientific evidence powerfully points in that direction but also because there are good exegetical reasons to think that the days are long periods of time. The point of this blog post is to present a brief case for Old Earth Creationism.

1: The Hebrew Word For Day Used In Genesis 1 Can Mean A Long Time Period.

One thing I’d like to point out in defending my position is that the word in Genesis 1, in Hebrew, for the word day is "Yom". Yom has multiple literal definitions. One definition is a 24 hour day, another meaning is the 12 hour period of sunlight, and the other meaning is a long period of time.

Now you might be wondering “Why did Moses use the words he did, and not other words. What is the meaning he was trying to communicate to his original audience and to us, as well? Why did Moses use the word ‘day’ and not the more generic term, ‘time’?” – Because in the ancient Hebrew language, there was no other word to denote a long period of time other than to use “Yom”. Now, in Modern Hebrew, you’ve got “yom” and “olam” but in ancient Hebrew, “olam” could only be used to mean “once upon a time” or “a long time ago” it could never be used to describe a generic long period of time. So why didn’t Moses use any other words? Because he had no other words at his disposal, which is kind of hard for us modern English speakers to imagine since we have numerous words to describe long periods of time. The Hebrew language however, did not. It only had “yom”. It wasn’t a very large language. It only had about 3,000 words if you don’t count the names of places and people.

2: But What About the phrases “Evening and Morning” used in Genesis 1? Don’t These Qualifiers Indicate That These are 24 hour days?

I believe they could be taken as figurative. "Evening" meaning "end point" and "Morning" meaning "beginning point". That is, "evening and morning" denotes the end of one creation era and the beginning of another. This way the text reads like this “And there was an end and a beginning, the fourth age.”

Do all the instances of "morning" and evening" refer to a literal period of time? Here is an example from Moses:

“In the morning it [grass] flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away.” - (Psalm 90:6)

This verse refers to the life cycle of grass (compared to the short life span of humans). Obviously, the grass does not grow up in one morning and die by the same evening. The period of time refers to its birth (morning) and its death (evening) at least several weeks (if not months) later.

3: There Are Clues Within The Text Itself Which Point To The Day-Age View.

On Day 3, "Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth"; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good." - (Genesis 1:11-12)

On the third day God allows the earth to produce plants through germination (sprouting) and growth until seeds are produced. There is no plant in the world that can germinate and produce seeds within a 24-hour period of time. It gets worse for the 24-hour interpretation. Not only do we have plants, we have trees that grow and produce fruit with seed in it. It takes fruit trees several years of growth before they produce any fruit. You might say that God could have caused everything to happen super-quick. However, God says, "LET THE EARTH bring forth  vegetation..." and the text says, "And the EARTH brought forth vegetation..." The fact that the “Earth” is the thing which brought forth the plants seems to indicate that God simply created seeds and let the trees grow up through natural processes (which would take longer than 24 hours).

"Let the earth sprout vegetation... and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation..." Notice the verbs are different in verses 11 and 12. 11 is "sprout", like a seed would sprout from the ground. 12 is "brought forth" which means to bring out or produce. In verse 11 God is proclaiming for the earth to sprout plants which it then says it did, but it could not have done so without two things, one - God proclaiming it, and two - God making the seeds that sprout. Verse 12 simply means the earth produced more plants like we see it doing today. It is important to notice God is using secondary causes to fulfill this proclamation and He is proclaiming something that takes longer than 24 hours to fulfill. Those secondary causes are processes that cannot happen in 24-hours. The earth simply does not do things fast and there is no indication of super-miraculous growth here any more than there is in Gen 2:8-9.

The events of the sixth day seem to require longer than 24 hours also. Richard Deem of GodandScience.org explained this very nicely in one of his articles on the subject. Richard Deem of GodandScience.org wrote:

“The text indicates that God planted a garden. This garden was not planted full-grown, since the text says that the trees were caused to sprout or grow (Hebrew tsamach). The amount of time allowed for the garden to grow is not stated, but would presumably take longer than 24-hours. After the garden had grown sufficiently, the man was placed into the garden to cultivate it. By this time, the trees were producing fruit so that Adam could eat. This process takes a period of time greater than 24 hours. Next, Adam was given the assignment of naming the birds, cattle and wild animals. The list includes only birds and mammals and does not mention fish or other lower life forms. Even so, it would require that Adam name at least 14,600 species (8,600 species of birds and 4,000 species of mammals). This would require Adam to name more than 10 species per minute (assuming he had the entire 24 hours). For those who believe in a young earth, it would require that Adam name not only all of the existing birds and mammals but all the ones in the fossil record also (since they would all have to be alive on day 6 – since no animal death occurred before the fall). This type of assignment would almost certainly double the number of animals Adam had to name. However, Adam did not have the entire 24 hours, since part of it was required for the planting and growing of the garden, Adam tending the garden, and God putting Adam to sleep to create Eve. Realistically, Adam would have to name at least 20 species per minute, including all the species found in the fossil record. Following this naming of the animals, no suitable helper was found for Adam. So, God put Adam to sleep, took at piece of Adam's side, and created Eve. Adam's response to Eve's creation is also telling. Upon seeing Eve for the first time, Adam says "at last." This is not exactly the response one would expect from a person who had waited for less than one day. So, we must conclude that the sixth day was most certainly longer than 24 hours.” --- Richard Deem, "The Literal Interpretation Of The Genesis One Creation Account"

From this textual evidence, we can conclude that at the very least, Days 3 and 6 were long time periods.

4: According To The Bible, The 7th Day Of Creation Is A Long Time Period Because The 7th Day Isn’t Over.

On the seventh day of the creation week, God rested from all of his work. There was never a close to the seventh day. All of the other creation days ended with “And there was evening and there was morning, the N day”. But this is completely absent from the 7th day of creation. The Bible doesn’t say “and there was evening and there was morning, the 7th day”. That phrase is not found anywhere in scripture. This lends one to believe that we are still in the seventh day, and that God is still at rest.

This is supported by Hebrews 4, which specifically says, “On the seventh day God rested from all his works’…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God…Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” We are told to enter into the Sabbath rest of God on the seventh day. The seventh day is today, therefore. But if the seventh day is a long but finite period of time, why would the other six be 24 hour periods? It seems to me that the creation week must also be a long but finite period of time.

5: The Entire Creation “week” is referred to as a “day”.

Genesis 2:4 says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” Genesis 2 refers to all of Genesis 1 as a single day.

So, in Genesis 1, we’re supposed to believe God created in 6 24 hour days and then in Genesis 2:4, we’re supposed to believe that He created everything in only 1 24 hour day? Seriously? No. This doesn’t make any sense. It’s a logical contradiction to say that God created everything in 6 calendar days and He created everything in 1 calendar day. One cannot interpret this to mean a 24 hour period and be consistent in their interpretations. So, “Yom” in Genesis 2:4 must mean a long period of time. At least longer than 24 hours.

This sort of usage should not strike anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament as unusual. This is just a consistent device in Hebrew literature and is represented throughout the Bible.

A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” – Psalm 90:4

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” – 2 Peter 3:8

There you have it; 5 different reasons from The Bible to believe that the “Yoms” of Genesis 1 are periods of time longer than 24 hours. The account of creation in Genesis 1 is therefore not at all inconsistent with modern science, but neither is this interpretation forced upon the text because of modern science. You can be a day-age creationist just from closely examining at the text.

*Addendum: the author of this blog post has changed his views about the Genesis. While he remains an Old Earth Creationist, he has renounced concordism and has moved away from the day-age interpretation. He is now considering either The Framework Hypothesis or The Functional Creation interpretation. That said, the author still believes that these arguments would prevent any callendar day interpretation from being valid under the assumption that Genesis 1 is a chronological, journalistic account of natural history. This article is left up for research purposes.