Home > Creation
Note: This is a detailed, technical analysis of this topic.
Click here to see a very brief summary of this evidence.
Click here to read a less technical study of this issue.
Exodus 20:11 - "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them..."
The following verses use the terms "day" or "days" to describe various aspects of the time element of creation: Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31; 2:2,3; 5:1,2; Ex. 20:11; 31:17; Heb. 4:4. These verses would naturally lead us to believe that creation occurred in six literal, consecutive days of essentially 24 hours each.
Modern "scientific" theory argues that the earth has existed for 4 or 5 billion years. Although this claim is unproved, some want to harmonize the Bible with it. Some attempt this by denying that creation occurred in six literal, consecutive days.
Some say the "days" were not literal days but long ages. Others say the "days" were not consecutive, but long ages occurred between the "days." Such views are sometimes called "Progressive Creation." Note that, to include the 4 to 5 billion years of "scientific" theory, each creation "day" (or the periods between) must average 700 million years in length!
The purpose of this study is to examine carefully the Bible evidence regarding the days of creation.
We will divide the subject into the following sub-headings:
The Importance of the Issue
The Meaning of the Word "Day"
Other Evidence about the Length of the Days
Answers to Arguments for Long Ages
Some say that the length of the days has little consequence, so we should overlook these non-literal views. But the days of creation are important because they are an integral part of the doctrine of creation, which is a fundamental proof of God and the Bible. To weaken the doctrine about the days of creation is to weaken the doctrine of creation itself. And to undermine or weaken the doctrine of creation is to undermine or weaken faith in God and the Bible as God's word, including the New Testament. This is the consequence of Progressive Creation (long ages in the creation account).
Some imply that the doctrine of creation is not important today, because it is Old Testament doctrine. But consider what the New Testament teaches:
Matthew 15:9,13 - We must not teach man-made doctrine.
Galatians 1:8,9 - We must not teach differently from the gospel of Christ
2 John 9-11 - If we do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, we do not have God.
1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 - We should hold fast the pattern of sound words and teach no other doctrine.
[Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19]
John 5:46,47 - Believing Moses leads us to believe Jesus and His word. If we don't believe Moses' writings, we will not believe Jesus' words!
Luke 24:25-27 - Failure to believe Moses' writings leads to failure to accept the truth of Jesus and His teachings.
God has changed His commandments from the Old Testament to the New, but records of history do not change. In order to confirm the New Testament, we must accept Old Testament prophecy and history, especially miracles such as creation. Rejecting the accuracy of Moses' writings will lead us to reject New Testament truths!
Specifically, the doctrine of creation is a part of the gospel, the doctrine of Christ.
Matthew 19:4 - Jesus taught that God made male and female at the beginning. Note that creation is part of Jesus' doctrine! [1 Cor. 11:9,12; 15:45,45; 1 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 3:4]
John 1:1-3,10 - In fact Jesus Himself was the one through whom all things were made. [Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:16,17; Heb. 1:2]
Acts 4:24 - Early disciples worshipped saying God made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them. [1 Tim. 6:13; Heb. 1:10; 3:4; Rev. 4:11; 10:6; 14:7]
Acts 14:15; 17:24-29 - Preaching the gospel to idol worshipers included creation as fundamental doctrine.
Note that "preach" in Acts 14:15 (NKJV) is the word for preaching the gospel. The NASB says we "preach the gospel to you" that you should turn "to a living God who made the heaven and the earth..." (cf. ASV). Creation is identified as part of the gospel and one of the first doctrines unbelievers need to learn!
Romans 1:20,25 - Creation proves the power and Deity of God, so men should worship Him.
Hebrews 11:3 - Creation is part of New Testament faith.
James 3:9 - Man was made in the likeness of God.
1 Peter 4:19 - We commit our souls in doing good and suffer for God, because He is the Creator.
Hebrews 4:4 - God rested from His works on the seventh day. Here the New Testament confirms the Old Testament teaching that the work was accomplished in the first six days.
Creation is fundamental New Testament doctrine - the doctrine of Christ - just as surely as it was in the Old Testament. Therefore, all the passages forbidding us to change gospel teaching apply to the doctrine of creation!
The doctrine of creation is also fundamental to other major doctrines that Christians must believe.
Creation teaches that man was created in the image of God, below the angels but above the animals -- Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:3-8.
Confusion about creation leads to confusion about our own position in the universe. What could be more basic than that?
Creation was accomplished by God's spoken word -- Genesis 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26; Psalm 33:6-9; Psalm 148:3-5; Hebrews 11:3.
As with other miracles, creation confirms the power/authority of God's word. Note: Matthew 8:5-13; 2 Peter 3:5-7. See Psalm 105:31,34; 106:9; John 11:39-44; 5:28,29.
Likewise, our eternal salvation depends on the power of God's word -- 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16.
So any view that undermines the doctrine of creation likewise undermines faith in the power of Scripture, including faith in the power of the gospel to save us from sin! What could be more basic than that?
Creation affirms that all life comes from God - Genesis 1:11,12,20,21,24-27; 2:7,21-23; Job 33:4; Isaiah 42:5; 1 Timothy 6:13.
This proves God is the living God, the source of all life - Genesis 1:26,27; Acts 14:15; 17:24-29; Revelation 10:6.
God likewise is the source of spiritual and eternal life - John 1:1-4; 14:6; Romans 6:4; John 5:26-29; Romans 6:23; John 6:63,68; Matthew 25:46.
So every view that undermines the Bible doctrine of creation thereby undermines our faith in God as the Giver of life, including spiritual and eternal life. How can that not be fundamental to Christians?
As the eternal uncaused cause of all that exists, God must have existed in eternity before the creation. John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16,17; Isaiah 40:28; Psalms 90:2; Revelation 10:6.
Any view that undermines our faith in creation likewise undermines our faith that God is eternal.
Creation demonstrates that God's wisdom is unlimited - Psalm 136:5-9; Jeremiah 51:15; Proverbs 3:19; 8:22-31.
As God's creatures, we must trust Him as the ultimate source of wisdom - Psalms 119:73; Proverbs 3:19-26; 8:30-36.
But His wisdom is revealed in the Scriptures - Psalm 19:7; 2 Timothy 3:15-17.
So again, any view that undermines the doctrine of creation, thereby undermines our faith in the wisdom of God. This is turn undermines our reasons for following the Bible as God's revealed wisdom. How can that not be fundamental to Christians?
Creation demonstrates God's great power -- Psalms 65:6; 86:8-10; 89:11-13; Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 27:5; 32:17; Romans 1:20.
The same power that created the world is the power to save us and give us eternal life -- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; Heb. 7:25.
Any view that undermines the doctrine of creation likewise undermines our faith in the power of God, including God's power to save us and give us eternal life! What could possibly be more important?
Because God created the universe, it belongs to Him so He rules as Lord over it - Psalm 24:1,2; 89:11,12; 95:5 Deuteronomy 32:5,6; Isaiah 29:16; Acts 17:24; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Peter 4:19; Romans 1:25.
Any view that undermines the doctrine of creation, thereby undermines our understanding of God's right to rule our lives and our obligation to serve God. Who can say that is not of first importance to Christians?
Only the Creator should be worshipped, for only He has ultimate power - Deuteronomy 32:15-18; Psalm 86:8-10; 139:13,14; 149:1,2; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6-9; 95:1-7; 148:1-6; Romans 1:25; 11:36; Revelation 4:11; 14:6,7.
So any view that undermines the Bible doctrine of creation, thereby also undermines our very reasons for worshipping God.
These conclusions follow from all we have already learned. It is specifically taught in the following passages: 2 Kings 19:15; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 86:8-10; 95:1-7; 100:3; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:11,12; 1 Chron. 16:25-35 and Psalm 96:2-10; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24-29; Romans 1:20.
And this is just the beginning. Many other New Testament doctrines are based directly on the doctrine of creation - Matt. 19:1-12; 1 Cor. 15:22-49; Rom.5:12-14; 1 Tim. 2:12-15; 1 Cor. 6;16; 11:8; Eph. 5:22-33.
Any view that undermines the Bible doctrine of creation, thereby undermines our ability to even recognize who God is! How then can the doctrine of creation not be a fundamental part of the gospel?
For more details on these points, see our article about the Significance of Creation.
Creation accomplishes all the above because it is miraculous. It is the first miracle (actually a series of miracles), and therefore forms the basis of our understanding or all other miracles and all Divine power.
Miracles are events that are impossible by natural law or human ability, so they could only happen by Divine power and wisdom. When they have occurred in history, they serve as evidence that God exists, that Jesus is God's Son, and that the Bible is God's word.
See the passages in the previous section and see Exodus 7:3-5; 8:10; 14:4,30,31; Deuteronomy 4:32-45; Mark 16:20; John 5:36; 20:30,31; Acts 2:22; 14:3; 2 Corinthians 12:11,12; Hebrews 2:3,4; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Exodus 4:1-9.
The power of the doctrine of creation lies in its greatness as a miracle and a fundamental proof of God and His word. It follows that we must avoid any doctrine that weakens or undermines the force of that miracle. Specifically:
The power of miracles as evidence rests entirely on their validity as historic fact. Unless they are contrary to natural law but nevertheless occurred as true, historic fact, then they prove nothing about God or His will.
So to deny the literal, historic Bible descriptions of miracles - to claim that some supernatural aspects are legendary or symbolic - is to deny the accuracy of the Bible and to belittle the force of the miracle. This encourages rejection of the evidence for God, the Bible, and Jesus. And the more fundamental a miracle is to our faith, the greater are the consequences if we deny its historic validity.
The Bible records all these miracles as historic facts having major significance in validating God's existence, Jesus' authority, and God's word. But all are impossible according to the laws of science, so some folks try to reconcile the Bible to science by saying that the Bible accounts are not literal, historic fact.
But denying that the Bible accounts are historic fact has the effect of eliminating the power of the miracles as evidence to substantiate Divine claims! Such views constitute modernism or liberalism. Those who hold them are not true believers.
An event is a miracle because it involves certain specific characteristics that only Divine power could accomplish. To accept an event as a miracle, we must accept as literal, historic fact the specific supernatural elements that make up the event. To deny or undermine the supernatural elements that make an event miraculous is to deny or undermine the miracle itself!
To avoid the power of true miracles, Satan offers "false miracles" - 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (Acts 8:5-13; Exodus 7:10-13; 1 Kings 18:20-40; Acts 19:11-17).
False miracles claim to be supernatural, but they lack the elements that overwhelm us with evidence of supernatural intervention. By getting people to call these events "miracles" though they lack the characteristics of true miracles, Satan is able to dilute or weaken the power of real miracles as evidence for God and His word.
Satan then belittles the supernatural elements of God's miracles - Matthew 28:11-15 (Matt. 12:24; Ex. 7:10-13; John 9:18-21).
Since the supernatural characteristics of miracles are what convince people to believe in God and His will, those are the aspects Satan attacks. He tries to convince people that these supernatural elements could occur by natural means other than by God's power.
If people do not recognize the supernatural elements of a miracle, then the miracle cannot produce faith. That is why Satan attacks them. And that is why believers must defend those supernatural elements as historic, literal truth. We must never accept natural explanations that are substituted for the supernatural elements of Biblical accounts of miraculous healings, the virgin birth, the resurrection, or creation.
The importance of the time element
The time element is one supernatural aspect that demonstrates an event to be a true miracle. The length of time it takes is often stated as one reason to believe God must have done it. Specifically, many accounts of miracles specify that they happened suddenly. Given a much longer time period, one might suspect that the event could have occurred by nature. But the shortness of the time demonstrates that God must have done it.
It follows that we must recognize the Biblical record of the time element of a miracle to be historic fact. To claim it is symbolic, figurative, or less than historic fact is to compromise the Bible account and defeat the purpose of the miracle as evidence.
Consider, for example, miraculous healings.
One reason we know supernatural healings were miracles is that they occurred immediately or instantaneously. They did not take days, weeks, or months to gradually develop. See Acts 3:7; Luke 13:11-13; Mark 2:10-12; 5:25-29; 5:35-42; Acts 13:11; 14:8-11; John 9:1,6,7; Mark 1:42; Luke 7:14,15; etc.
By contrast, in most modern so-called miracles, if healing occurs at all, it takes days, weeks, or months. Such gradual healings could be explained as natural processes. They are claimed as miracles, but the time element proves they are not really miraculous.
Likewise, God sometimes reveals time aspects of other Bible miracles. The fact they happened at exactly the time God specified, or that they occurred so quickly, gives evidence that they were supernatural. [1 Kings 18:25-30,35-39]
So when God states a specific time element in a miracle, we must accept the time as literal, historic fact. The power of a Bible miracle is defeated or compromised if people conclude that the time element is just figurative or symbolic.
This is why the time element is so important in creation. If God specifically stated the time duration of creation, and if that time is one element that demonstrates the supernatural nature of the event, then Christians must believe and defend that time element. To do otherwise would weaken the force of creation as evidence.
For more details on these points, see our article about Creation as a miracle.
Having examined the importance of considering the length of the days of Creation, we now consider the Bible evidence regarding the meaning or definition of the word "day."
The account is part of a book which is clearly presented as history.
Genesis describes the lives of real people in historical settings naming individuals, places, rulers, etc.
Throughout the Bible creation is viewed as a literal historical event.
This is confirmed by the Scriptures already listed. Creation is never viewed as allegory, legend, myth, figure of speech, or parable.
The whole Bible from Genesis on views the creation account as literal history. To view the account as figurative or allegorical is to deny or belittle the integrity of Genesis and of all Scripture!
See the previous evidence of Bible emphasis on creation.
It follows that we must take the account to be literal history, especially those elements that emphasize the supernatural nature of the event. To take these supernatural elements to be figurative or non-literal is to belittle and undermine the force of the miracle. Such an approach contributes to liberal, modernistic thinking. It weakens our defense of truth and leads people to wonder what other Bible miracles should be taken as non-literal allegories, etc.
The Bible repeatedly states that the creation occurred in six days. The time element is referenced nine times in the Genesis account itself -- Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31; 2:2 (two references); 2:3. It is directly referenced elsewhere eight times (Gen. 5:1,2; Ex. 20:11 (twice); 31:17 (twice); and Heb. 4:4 (twice). That makes 17 direct references to the time element in creation. How can this be unimportant?
Since the Bible clearly presents creation as a miracle and clearly emphasizes the time element as a significant part of that miracle, then for all the reasons described above, true believers must accept the time element as literal, historic fact: six literal, consecutive days, followed by a literal day of rest.
To claim long ages in creation is to compromise a basic supernatural element of a major miracle. It weakens the miraculous nature of the Bible evidence, making it easier for people to believe in evolution over long ages by natural processes. But when we recognize the time element to be literal, then no one can possibly believe that creation could occur by natural processes. It must be a miracle demonstrating the existence of God and the power of His word.
If we compromise the time element of creation, it is natural to question what other supernatural elements or other miracles we may deny. Why must we take other plain statements about creation to be historic fact? In short, why not simply accept Theistic evolution? And then why not take other Bible miracles to be figurative or symbolic, till all supernatural elements of all Bible miracles are removed?
Since the Bible presents creation as a major historical miracle, true believers must defend every supernatural element of the account as literal, historical fact, including the days. To compromise is to undermine and weaken faith in the Bible, faith in other Bible miracles, and ultimately faith in God.
Some point out that "day" may refer to periods other than 24 hours. Some even claim that the Hebrew YOM is a generic word referring indefinitely to time; so "age" or "time" (not "day"") is its proper meaning. However, in the nearly 2000 verses that use YOM, it is translated "age" or "time" in only about 70 instances. The almost overwhelming translation is "day" or "days." Are the translators of all major English translations overwhelmingly wrong here?
Study of context shows that, in about 95% of cases, YOM refers either to the literal 24-hour day or to the period of daylight (in contrast to night). So "day" is clearly the proper meaning, and the "days" of creation are highly unlikely to be long periods. And I know of no instance where a Bible "day" includes many thousands of years, let alone 700 million years. I conclude that those who argue that YOM means "age" or "time" are simply trying to avoid the force of Bible evidence by changing a word from its specific meaning to make it generic.
But God does much more regarding creation than just use the word "day." He uses it in contexts and He gives us additional information about the "days so as to leave no doubt about their meaning.
So consider now two passages that say God created all things in six "days": Exodus 20:11; 31:17. We will see that "days" (plural) is more precise than just "day."
The best way to understand a Bible word is to study how it is used in the context of Bible passages. Let us do this for the word "days" (plural). [Hebrew YOM or YOWM - Strong's number H3117 and Greek HEMERA - G2250.]
The chart below categorizes the verses according to the nature of the books (law, history or prophecy, etc.). Then it shows whether the "days" are each literal or could be longer periods or could refer to hundreds of millions of years.
|Type of book||Total verses||Literal days||Long ages??||Millions of years|
(1) Regardless of context, "days" longer than literal days are highly unlikely.
(2) If we consider context all possible examples of longer periods are found in prophecy, never in history or doctrine or even poetry. Prophecy commonly uses words symbolically, so such a use proves nothing about historical or doctrinal contexts. But creation accounts are history and doctrine, not prophecy. So any attempt to determine the meaning of "days" in creation by appealing to prophetic texts would misuse Scripture.
(3) Moses uses "days" 191 times. All are literal; none refer to long ages. So why should we believe the "days" of creation are long ages in Exodus 20 & 31?
(4) Overall, "days" occurs almost 600 times in history, doctrine, and poetry. Always each day is literal, never a long period of time. To argue for long ages in Ex. 20 and 31 is to speak without Bible precedent.
(5) And finally, no Bible passage - not even prophecy - uses "days" to refer to ages lasting many hundreds of millions of years each. There simply is no Bible authority whatever for such a conclusion.
The above comments refer to "days" (plural) when translated "days." However, in six verses YOM is translated "age." In every case, YOM is plural. Further, in over sixty verses YOM is translated "time." In the majority of these YOM is plural. While not included in the chart above, these instances do not conflict with the results but completely harmonize with them.
When YOM is plural and is translated "time" or "age," the "age" or "time" is indefinite in length, not because the "days" are not literal, but simply because the context does not tell how many days are included. There is no evidence that each of the "days" is a long time period. Hence, these cases too are compatible with a literal meaning for "days."
The use of "days" to refer to creation compels us to conclude the days are literal, not long periods.
(Click for a detailed discussion of "days" plural, including a complete list of the passages.)
A "cardinal" number simply indicates how many items are being described ("one," "two," "three," etc.). This contrasts to an "ordinal" number, which also indicates the order of the items ("first," "second," "third," etc.).
Three passages refer to days of creation using a cardinal number: Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Genesis 1:5. Some versions translate the latter passage as an ordinal number ("first day"), but the original text has a cardinal number ("one day" - see ASV, NASB, NKJV footnote; etc.).
Counting a specific number of days implies a more precise or exact meaning than simply saying "day" or "days."
The chart below categorizes the verses according to the nature of the books (law, history or prophecy, etc.). Then it shows whether the days are literal or could be longer periods or could refer to hundreds of millions of years.
|Type of book||Total verses||Literal days||Long ages??||Millions of years|
(1) Moses uses "day" with a cardinal number over 100 times. Always it refers to literal days, never to longer periods! What are the chances that all three of such references to creation "days" mean long periods?
(2) At least 235 verses of history or doctrine contain "day" with a cardinal number. Every one of them refers to literal days. Since references to creation days are in contexts of history and doctrine, why would anyone think they are not literal days? (The one apparent exception is not really an exception, as noted below).
(3) Of the 19 instances where "day" may be longer than literal days, all are found in prophecy. As already observed, this proves nothing about how the word is used in historical or doctrinal contexts.
(4) And no Bible passage - not even prophecy - uses day with a cardinal number to mean an age of many hundreds of millions of years. There simply is no Bible authority whatever for such a conclusion.
(5) Furthermore, whenever a cardinal number of days describes an event (such as creation in "six days"), the days are always consecutive, sequential days. I find no exceptions in Old Testament or New Testament. Hence, the creation references to "day" with a cardinal number prove both that the days themselves are literal and that no long ages occurred between the days.
Clearly the inspired writer intended to state that creation occurred in six consecutive, literal days.
2 Peter 3:8 is in an epistle and uses "day" with a cardinal number to refer to a long period: with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Some claim this proves that the days of creation may be longer than literal days. Please consider:
(a) "One day" is said to be "as" a thousand years. "As" proves this is a figurative use. Does this prove "day" always means 1000 years? Of course not! As in 2 Peter 3, something in context must imply a figurative meaning. What is there in the context of creation that proves the days are not literal?
(b) While 2 Peter is a doctrinal book, chapter 3 is clearly prophetic discussing Jesus' return. As already discussed, prophecy proves nothing about the meaning of time references in history or doctrine (such as creation).
(c) Peter answered those who say that God's prophecy of the end of the world had failed. Peter's point is that God said the world would end, but He never said when, so we cannot hold Him to any human timetable. The end will come when the circumstances are right, regardless of how long it takes. So whether it takes one day or a thousand years, makes no difference to God.
But none of this proves we can take God's statements figuratively when He does specify time in historic or doctrinal contexts. Whereas God never said when the world will end, He did say how long it took to create the universe: "six days." Context and usage show this was a historical, doctrinal truth communicated in understandable human language.
(d) And those who use 2 Peter 3:8 to justify long ages in creation do not believe their own argument. The passage says a day is as "a thousand years." But the day-age theory says each day must be as 700 million years!
(Click for a detailed study of "day" with a cardinal number, including a list of passages.)
Again, an "ordinal" number tells, not just how many items are described, but also the order of the items ("first," "second," "third," etc.). As such, it gives even more information than a cardinal number.
The following ten passages refer to creation using "day" with an ordinal number: Genesis 1:8,13,19,23,31; 2:2,3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17; Hebrews 4:4. [Remember, Gen. 1:5 is not listed here, because it has a cardinal number in the original.]
The chart below categorizes the verses according to the nature of the books (books of law, history or prophecy, etc.). Then it shows whether the days are literal or could be longer periods or could refer to hundreds of millions of years.
|Type of book||Total verses||Literal days||Long ages??||Millions of years|
(1) Moses uses "day" with an ordinal number well over 100 times. It always mean literal days, never longer periods! So what are the chances that all nine of his creation references mean long periods of time? (We will later note a verse which some folks incorrectly claim is an exception.)
(2) All ten references to creation days are in contexts of history or doctrine. But in those contexts "day" with an ordinal always refers to literal days, never longer periods (over 190 instances).
(3) There is only one verse in the whole Bible where "day" with an ordinal number might be longer than a literal day. One! And that verse is prophecy, not history or doctrine, so again it proves nothing about historical or doctrinal contexts.
(4) Furthermore, when "day" is used with an ordinal number, the days are always consecutive, without exception. Hence, "day" with an ordinal number not only proves creation days are literal days, it also proves no long ages occurred between the days.
(5) And finally, no Bible passage - not even prophecy - uses "day" with an ordinal number to mean a "day" of hundreds of millions of years. There simply is no Bible authority whatever for such a conclusion.
(Click for a detailed study of "day" with an ordinal number, including a list of passages.)
This passage says: As at the first time (YOM), I stayed in the mountain forty days and forty nights... "The first time" refers to the forty days and nights when Moses received the 10 Commands. So some claim this proves YOM with an ordinal number can mean long ages.
But even if "day" here did mean forty days, that hardly proves "day" with an ordinal number can mean thousands of years, let alone 700 million years.
However, YOM is here translated "time," not "day," because the word here is not singular, but plural! [See Davidson's Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament, page 377,218, and Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, page 752.]
The verse literally refers to the previous period of forty days as "the first days." So the text is completely literal. Rather than contradicting our claim, Deut. 10:10 simply confirms that YOM with an ordinal number consistently refers to literal days, except perhaps for one prophetic verse.
They describe a "first day," "second day," etc., as in Genesis 1. The Bible contains thirteen such examples: Genesis 1:8-2:3; Exodus 14:9,10; Numbers 6:9,10; Numbers 7:12-78; Numbers 28:16,17; Numbers 29:17-35; Joshua 6:14,15; Judges 19:5-8; Judges 20:22-30; Esther 9:17; Esther 9:18; Esther 9:21; Ezekiel 45:21-25.
Every one of these cases describes consecutive literal 24-hour days! These are the closest possible parallels to Gen. 1, and all refer to consecutive, sequential literal days. Who then can reasonably argue that the days of creation are different?
There are four of these:
Genesis 1&2 - The six days of creation followed by the day of rest.
Numbers 7:12-78 - Offerings at the dedication of the altar are described sequentially through twelve days.
Numbers 29:12-35 - Offerings are described sequentially through eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Judges 20:22-30 - Events of a battle are described sequentially through three days.
These sequences unquestionably all describe consecutive literal 24-hour days. No one would ever consider otherwise. Surely Genesis 1&2 must carry this same meaning.
The language of Scripture confirms that the inspired writer intended to state that creation occurred in six consecutive, literal days.
Two passages state that God made everything "in six days": Exodus 20:11; 31:17. ("In" is added by the translators, because the context clearly implies it.)
Just as adding a specific number gives more information than just "day," so adding the word "in" tells that the entire event under consideration was completed within the time described: "in six days."
Exodus 20:11 -- For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth ...
Exodus 31:17 -- in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth
2 Chronicles 29:17 -- ... on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. Then they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.
Nehemiah 6:15 -- So the wall was finished ... in fifty-two days.
Matthew 26:61 -- I am able to ... build it in three days.
Matthew 27:40 -- You who destroy the temple and build it in three days
Mark 15:29 -- You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,
John 2:19 -- Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
John 2:20 -- It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?
Acts 20:6 -- But we sailed away from Philippi ... and in five days joined them at Troas
(1) The expression "in X days" is used ten times in Scripture. Every time each "day" is a literal day, never a longer period!
(2) This expression means, not just literal days, but literal consecutive, sequential days. The entire point is to state the limits of a literal time span within which an event or task was completed. This proves, not just that creation days were literal days, but also that no long ages occurred between the days.
(3) But note what all occurred "in six days": "in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them." God here affirms that all of creation was completely formed in six literal, consecutive days. To deny it is to flatly deny Scripture!
(4) For comparison, note that several verses state that Jesus arose "in three days" after His death (this is the meaning of Jesus' building the temple -- John 2:21,22). This means Jesus' resurrection was completed within a time span of three literal, consecutive days after His death. (Yes, the language can include partial days, but still they are days, not years, centuries, or millennia!) To deny this would be to deny the truthfulness of Scripture regarding a foundational miracle on which our faith is based.
Do we, or do we not, believe that Jesus literally arose "in three days"? If we take the time element figuratively, what else about it may we take figuratively?
Likewise, do we, or do we not, believe God created everything "in six days"? The attempt to include long ages in creation does more than just take the passages to be figurative; it flatly denies the truthfulness of Scripture about a miracle which is foundational to our faith! What else about creation or other foundational miracles may we take figuratively? Why not take the resurrection to be figurative?
The clear intent of Scripture is violated by all attempts to find long ages in creation.
Genesis 1:5 - So the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:8 -- So the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1:13 -- So the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1:19 -- So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Genesis 1:23 -- So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Genesis 1:31 -- So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
God not only numbered each day, but to be even more specific He also emphasized by means of repetition that each day consisted of evening and morning.
["Evening" (EREB - Strong's number H6153) and "morning" (BOQER - H1242)]
The chart below categorizes the verses according to the nature of the books (law, history or prophecy, etc.). Then it shows whether the days are literal or could be longer periods or could refer to hundreds of millions of years
|Type of book||Total verses||Literal days||Long ages??||Millions of years|
[For examples note Exodus 18:13; Ezra 3:3,4 [See also Ex. 27:21; Lev. 24:3; Num. 9:21; I Chron. 16:40; 2 Chron. 2:4; 13:11; 31:3; Job 4:20; Psa. 55:17; 65:8; Dan. 8:26]
(1) Moses used "evening" and "morning" together 20 times. Every time refers to literal days, never to longer periods! What are the chances that all six of the references to creation days mean long periods of time?
(2) All instances of history, law, or poetry describe literal days, never longer periods. Why would anyone think the days of creation are not literal days? (I will later discuss an example some might question.)
(3) In all the Old Testament, only twice might this expression refer to periods longer than a literal day. And those cases are prophecy, so they prove nothing about the words in historical or doctrinal contexts.
(4) And finally, no Bible passage - not even prophecy - uses the expression to refer to ages lasting hundreds of millions of years. There simply is no Bible authority whatever for such a conclusion.
Some folks try to assign a generic meaning to "morning" and "evening," such as a beginning and an ending. Even if these words individually could occasionally carry such meanings, the fact is that they never carry such meanings when used together in historic or doctrinal contexts.
"Evening" and "morning" used together describe a literal 24-hour day, except perhaps in prophecy. And they never refer to a period of hundreds of millions of years.
Here darkness was called "night" and was separated from the light, which is called "day." ("Day" here is an alternative literal meaning of "day" - the daylight part of the day - but it surely does not prove "days" can be long periods.) Day/light and night/darkness are so closely associated with evening and morning that they appear to define the terms and thereby define a day!
"The first day" has a cardinal number, not an ordinal number: "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (ASV). So the very first day defined the creation "days" to consist of "evening and morning," the darkness and the light. Since each day consisted of evening and morning, it follows that each creation day was a literal 24-hour day, not a long period.
On the fourth day the heavenly bodies were designated to measure time. They divided day from night and ruled over the light and the darkness. They were signs of seasons, days, and years. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Again darkness and daylight appear to constitute a day described as "evening and morning," a literal 24-hour day.
Furthermore the heavenly bodies measure the "days." Surely these are 24-hour days, since they are distinguished from "years." Surely then the fourth "day" is the kind of "day" that those heavenly bodies measure. If the fourth "day" was hundreds of millions of years long, then how long were the years and the seasons? But if the fourth day was a literal day, why not take all the days to be the same?
The clear intent of Scripture is violated by all attempts to find long ages in creation.
(Click for a detailed study of "evening and morning" including a list of passages.)
The last day of creation was the seventh day on which God rested (Gen. 2:2,3). This later became the basis of the Sabbath command (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:17; Heb. 4:4).
Note: God made everything in "six days" and then rested the "seventh day," so He hallowed the Sabbath "day" - Exodus 20:11. But Israel was similarly commanded to work "six days" then rest on the "seventh day," which was the Sabbath - vv 9,10. Surely the "seventh day" must mean the same in both v10 and v11: the "seventh day" on which Israel was to rest must mean the same as the "seventh day" on which God rested. Likewise, the "six days" Israel was to work must mean the same as the "six days" God worked. But the "six days" on which Israel was to work and the "seventh day" on which they rested were literal days, so the "six days" on which God worked and the "seventh day" on which He rested must also be literal days. "Day" must mean the same throughout. To say otherwise without proof makes the passage nonsense.
Exodus 20:11 - In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Genesis 2:2,3 - On the seventh day God ended His work and rested on the seventh day from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work. Note the references to "it."
* What God blessed and sanctified was the seventh day on which He rested - Gen. 2:3.
* But what God blessed and hallowed was the Sabbath day - Ex 20:11.
* So the Sabbath day was the seventh day, the day on which God rested. But the Sabbath day was a literal 24-hour day. Therefore, the seventh day on which God rested at creation was a literal day!
So the last day of creation week was a literal day, and surely this means the six days of work were also literal days!
(1) "Days" (plural)
(2) A cardinal number: "six days"
(3) Ordinal numbers: "second day," "third day," etc.
(4) A sequence of consecutive ordinal numbers: "second" then "third," etc.
(5) Duration of time: "in six days"
(6) Evening and morning, day and night, darkness and light
(7) The seventh-day Sabbath
The clear intent of these expressions is to define the days of creation to be a sequence of six literal, consecutive days followed by a seventh day of rest.
Question: If God meant to inform us that He created everything in six literal, consecutive days, what more could He have said that He did not say? If what He said does not convince people these are literal days, what could He possibly have said that would convince anyone?
Miracles prove God's Deity and confirm His word. Creation is one of the most fundamental of all miracles.
The force of miracles as evidence lies in their supernatural elements: aspects which cannot happen by nature or science but can only occur by God's Divine intervention. Specifically, God often states the time element as one characteristic that demonstrates the supernatural nature of a miracle. To deny that the time element stated in Scripture is literal, historic fact is to undermine the evidence that the event is miraculous, making the it appear more likely by natural power.
So to deny the literal days of creation is to undermine the force of creation as evidence for God's existence and power, making evolution easier to believe. Furthermore, it undermines the integrity of the Bible as history and thereby undermines faith in all supernatural aspects of all Bible miracles. The next logical step is to deny other elements of other miracles. One who advocates such views has taken the first step that will lead him or those who hear him into liberalism and modernism.
Our previous study has examined the Bible evidence for the definition of "day" as used in Creation accounts. We now consider other Bible evidence that confirms our conclusions.
If creation lasted long periods of millions of years, why did God not say so?
Some claim that ancient people would not understand if God had been more specific. So He spoke allegorically or accommodatively.
Let us consider whether or not the concepts and language were available for God to express long ages to ancient people.
Remember, the creation account was not written to Adam and Eve. It was written to people in Moses' time. Did people then not understand long time periods? In fact they often spoke of long time periods, but usually referring to the future, not the past.
Some words available were:
DOR ("generation") is used often as "throughout your generations" - a long time in the future. Also used are a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9; 1 Chron. 16:15; Psalms 105:8) or many generations (Deut. 32:7; Isaiah 58:12; 60:15; 61:4) or simply "age" (Job 8:8).
OLAM (MEOLAM) is generally defined as "age lasting." It is often used as "(for) ever" - a long time in the future. Used of the past it is translated "ancient" time or "old" time (Gen. 6:4; Deut. 32:7; Josh. 24:2; 1 Sam. 27:8; Psalms 77:5; 119:52; Ecc. 1:10; Isaiah 46:9; 51:9; 63:9,11; Jer. 2:20; 28:8; Ezek. 26:20; Micah 7:14; Mal. 3:4).
SHANAH ("year") may be used in the plural ("years") to express long time periods as a thousand years (Ecc. 6:6) or many years (Ezra 5:11; Neh. 9:30).
If each period of creation was a long age, why did God not use some of these terms, such as "many thousands of years"? Why would the people have misunderstood that?
The Old Testament frequently uses words like "hundred" or "thousand." To express larger numbers, these words are combined as "thousands of thousands" (Psalms 68:17) and "a thousand thousands" and "ten thousand times ten thousand" (Dan. 7:10). In Genesis 24:60 Moses himself speaks of thousands of ten thousands.
Could Old Testament readers understand these concepts? Why couldn't God have simply said that each period of creation required many thousands of thousands of years?
Were people in New Testament times still unable to understand the concept of huge time periods?
Greek had words for "year" (etos), "generation" (genea), and "age" (aion).
For large numbers, Rev. 5:11 refers to ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.
Yet the New Testament still says God rested from creation on "the seventh day" (Heb. 4:4). If the "days" were really long periods, why didn't God explain this to New Testament people?
Clearly the language and concepts were available for ancient people to understand if God had told them the periods of creation were long ages. Denying this amounts to elitist egotism.
The Bible does not refer to past ages lasting thousands of thousands of years, but that is not because the people were unable to understand. It is simply because such ages never occurred! God spoke instead of "six days" of creation, because that is how long it took!
As discussed earlier, each day of creation consisted of "evening and morning." Genesis 1:3-5,14-16 imply that "evening" is equivalent to "night" and "darkness," and "morning" is equivalent to "light" or "day."
But if the days of creation were many millions of years long, then the darkness must have lasted millions of years and the daylight must have lasted millions of years.
Plants and animals both need sunlight for growth and health. Plants obtain energy from the light, and animals obtain energy in some form from plants. "Evenings" of millions of years of darkness would destroy the plants and the animals.
Plants were made the third day, but fish, birds, and animals on the fifth and sixth days. This means the plants must have survived at least all of the fourth day without animals of any sort.
How could plants survive millions of years without animals? Many plants cannot even reproduce without bees, insects, or birds to pollinate them.
Long ages during or between the "days" would destroy all plant life before the animals were created.
Some respond that insects were not made on the sixth day. However:
Note that plants need more animals than just insects. Some need birds or other symbiotic relationships.
If God did not make insects on the sixth day, when did He make them? Only plants were made on the third day and nothing living was made on the fourth day. Clearly plants must have existed through at least one day without insects.
On the sixth day God made "creeping things" including "everything that creeps on the earth" (vv 24,25). Leviticus 11:21-23 includes locusts and grasshoppers among "creeping things" that fly (see ASV, KJV). Reptiles were also among the creeping things (vv 29-31), but insects are definitely included. So on the sixth day God made insects among "everything that creeps."
The only way plants could have survived creation is if the days were literal.
Note some things that were made at "the beginning."
Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Matthew 19:4 - At the beginning God made male and female.
Mark 10:6 - From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.
Clearly, "the beginning" refers to the whole period of creation, including the sixth day when man was made. [Cf. Luke 11:49-51.]
This is reasonable if the "beginning of creation" was the first week and everything has existed a few thousand years since. However, if heaven and earth were made many billions of years ago but man did not exist until several thousand years ago, that hardly would place man at "the beginning."
Isaiah 45:18 - God made the earth and formed it to be inhabited. The earth was made as a place for people to live. This fits the idea that, a few days after creating the earth, God placed man to live on it.
But if the earth was formed for men to inhabit, why wait till billions of years later to place men on it? Why leave it uninhabited for many billions of years?
The literal six-day creation fits these Bible passages much better than do the long-age theories.
Some claim that creation days were literal days, but on those days God simply decreed what would be made. Then following each day of creation was a long period of millions of years in which the creation decree was carried out. Then another day of creation would occur followed by a long period to fulfill its decrees, etc. So, the "days" would be literal but not consecutive, and the whole process took billions of years.
This approach violates all the evidence we have given that the days were consecutive and that long ages in creation would be unscriptural. Note further:
Note the "it was so" expressions on the following days:
Second day - v7
Third day - vv 9,11
Fourth day - v15
Sixth day - vv 24,30
"It was so" clearly means that God's decree was fulfilled or came to pass.
But each "it was so" statement occurs before the completion of the corresponding creation day.
The pattern is: "... and it was so ... and the evening and the morning were the second day," etc. Clearly the intended meaning is that God's creative decrees were actually fulfilled on the day named, not millions of years later.
To avoid this evidence, one writer inserts parentheses in the Bible text to separate the portion of each day's account that describes the actual occurrence of what God decreed. This leaves the impression that God made the decree on the day named, but that the fulfillment of the decree (the part in parenthesis) occurred later.
But such an approach simply does not fit the language. No reputable translation inserts such parentheses or otherwise implies that the decrees were fulfilled some time other than on the creation days.
The Bible text itself says that the things God decreed were "so" on each specific named day.
Note the expressions for the following days:
Third day - vv 10,12,13
Fourth day - v18,19
Fifth day - v21
Sixth day - vv 25,31
So, at the end of each day, God saw what He had made and declared it to be good. He was pleased and satisfied with what He had made.
Note that He "saw" it first, then declared to be "good." Clearly in each case His creation decree was fulfilled, then He saw what He had made, then He declared it to be good.
But "it was good" statements occurred during the days of creation!
On several days God declared what He made to be good, then we are immediately told what day it was. Note the following:
"And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day" - vv 12,13. See vv18,19 for the fourth day.
The sixth day is even more specific: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day" - v31.
So on the identified days of creation, God saw what He had made and declared it to be good. In fact, at the end of the sixth day He saw everything He had made and declared it all to be very good.
God did not make the decrees on each creation day and then, millions of years later, declare the result to be good. The text expressly says that He declared it to be good after He "had made" it but still during the creation day - v31. By the end of day six of creation, He saw "everything" and declared it all to be "good."
Arguments for long ages in creation, no matter how ingeniously and artificially contrived, invariably end up flatly contradicting the Bible text. The fact remains that God created everything "in six days," just as the Bible says.
Evolution claims that men evolved from lower animals over millions of years. If so, then death must have existed among animals for thousands of generations before man existed and sinned.
Proponents of long ages in creation generally agree that death existed long before man's existence. They claim, for example, that the days of creation generally agree with the fossil record in the "Geologic column." But fossils were formed by death, so death must have been part of the natural order on the earth long before man sinned. The consequence of sin, we are told, was spiritual death only, not physical death.
Consider the teaching of the Bible:
Genesis 2:16,17; 3:17-19 - The punishment for sin included that man, who had been formed from the dust, would return to the dust (cf. Psa. 104:29; Ecc. 12:7). Later he was cut off from the tree of life so he could not live forever (3:22-24).
1 Corinthians 15:21,22 - All men die because of what Adam did, but this death will be overcome by Jesus who will raise all men from the dead (vv 25,26). Clearly this is physical death.
Hebrews 2:14,15 - The devil has the power of death. Jesus died and arose to defeat the power of Satan, thereby delivering man from the fear of death. In heaven we will experience none of these problems brought on by the curse of sin (Rev. 21:4; 22:3).
Clearly physical death is one consequence of sin. Denial of this is flat denial of Scripture. But if physical death began as a consequence of sin, how could it be part of the natural order for millions of years before Adam and Eve were formed?
Genesis 1:28,29; 2:16; 3:2 - Before sin, man had dominion over the animals, but nothing says he ate them. God told him to eat herbs and the fruit of the trees.
Genesis 1:30 - In creation God also ordained that animals eat herbs.
Genesis 3:21 - After the sin, God clothed people with animal skins. This is the first indication of animal death.
Genesis 9:3 - Only after sin occurred did God ordain for man to eat animals. If death was the natural order, why did God not authorize eating of animal flesh from the beginning?
Birds and fish were created on the fifth day and other animals on the sixth day. If death was the order of nature throughout these hundreds of millions of years, why is there no indication of any animal death prior to sin?
Death involves pain, suffering, shedding of blood, disease, accidents, and violence. If this were part of creation before sin, then it must have been "very good." Is all this death and suffering "very good"?
Creation was a constructive process, forming what was new and good. Death is a destructive, decay process. How can it be compatible with the process of creation?
The Bible presents death as an enemy, a curse, the power of the devil (Gen. 2:16,17: 3:17-19; 1 Cor. 15:26,51-57; Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 21:4; 22:3). How can such a curse and an enemy be part of God's "very good" creation?
Death is a curse, not just on man, but upon the whole earth.
Genesis 3:17 - The ground was cursed after man sinned.
Romans 8:19-22 - The whole creation is subject to futility so it groans and labors. Through Jesus it will eventually be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
If death is a curse and all the world came under a curse as a result of sin, why would death exist before sin? If death was the order of nature in the "very good" creation before sin, then how can it be a curse?
God says: "by man came death" (1 Cor. 15:21). But long-agers claim that God created death as part of the "very good" creation. The effect is to blame God for the enemy of man, the power of Satan, and the curse of sin!
Once again long-age proponents have compromised another major truth of creation, making evolution appear more likely.
Progressive creationists cite "scientific" evidence implying the earth is billions of years old like evolution claims. They say God would be deceitful if He made everything in six days and then left these apparent indications that creation is older.
Natural science studies the current, ongoing processes of nature. The "scientific method" is based on experiments capable of being repeated by scientists.
But the whole point of miracles is that they are impossible by natural law. And men cannot repeat them. It necessarily follows that miracles cannot possibly be explained by science.
This points out the whole problem of trying to use science to explain miracles. Miracles do not follow the laws of science! So why be surprised when "scientific" studies appear to contradict the results of a miracle? This is why those who seek scientific explanations often end up denying supernatural aspects of the miracle.
Many miracles are supernatural in that they produce results very quickly that nature cannot do quickly but might do (or seem to do) over long periods. If someone tried to explain the effect of the miracle by natural processes, he would be misled about how long it took. This is called "apparent age." But the mistake is in assuming the effect occurred by nature rather than by miracle.
Consider some examples:
John 2:1-11 - Jesus turned water to wine. This was miracle done instantaneously apart from nature. But one who viewed the wine might mistakenly assume that it resulted from months of natural processes (apparent age).
Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 - From a few loaves and fishes, Jesus instantaneously produced food to feed thousands. Seeing the food, one might mistakenly have assumed it resulted from months of natural growth of grain and fish (apparent age).
The same point can be made regarding many other miracles, such as miraculous healings. A person might incorrectly assume these events occurred naturally over a long time. His error would be in failing to acknowledge that miracles can produce the same effect quickly.
This again is why we emphasize the miraculous time element. If one assumes long periods of time, he removes a major supernatural aspect of the miracle and is led to accept natural explanations. But if he recognizes an event to be a miracle, he learns not to expect natural explanations regarding apparent age.
God created all things mature and fully functioning on the very day they were created.
Plants were mature enough to reproduce (1:11,12), so men and animals could eat their fruit (1:29; 3:2).
Heavenly bodies were created capable of immediately giving light on earth (1:14-18). Though they are "light years" away, God created them so their light that could be seen on earth from the day they were made.
Birds were mature enough to fly; both birds and fish were able reproduce on the day God made them (1:20-22).
People were capable of marrying and reproducing on the very day they were formed (1:28; 2:24).
So with all aspects of creation, each was formed mature and functioning. This is not deception; it is creation of a mature universe capable of accomplishing God's purpose.
But as with other miracles, the result would have apparent age. Had someone observed each thing immediately after it was made, it would be mature. He might mistakenly assume it was many years old, but his error would come from assuming that it resulted from natural processes rather than miracle!
This is exactly the error of those who use "scientific" evidence to argue for an old earth. Such evidence invariably assumes that the effects came from natural processes, ignoring the fact God miraculously created all things mature and functioning.
God's word refers 17 times to the time element of creation. If He plainly and directly states the length of time, how can He be accused of deceit?
God used no deceit, nor has science disproved God's statements about the time element. The problem is that people refuse to believe what God plainly said about it! If people will not accept His stated word, what right have they to complain about deceit?
In short, the problem is that people believe human wisdom, ignore Divine revelation, and then criticize those who prefer to believe God!
Can "science" design some experiment to tell us whether George Washington was the first president of the United States? No, that is a matter of history. Natural science cannot establish the details of past events, because past events cannot be studied by repeatable experiments.
Likewise, details of creation cannot be studied by science, first because miracles do not follow the laws of science, and second because creation is a matter of history, not science. How then can we determine what did happen at creation?
Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15 - Under the law plural witnesses were required to convict one of a capital crime. [Hebrews 10:28]
Matthew 18:16 - The gospel requires the same procedure to convict a Christian of sin. [2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19]
John 8:17 - Jesus endorsed this principle as evidence for His claims: the testimony of two men is true.
This is the same basis used in our courts today to establish the truth regarding past events.
All miracles are matters of history, not "science." No experiment can repeat them, and they do not follow the principles of natural law. Yet we have conclusive evidence they happened.
John 20:29-31; 21:24 - We believe in miracles because of the testimony of witnesses. [2 Peter 1:13-18; 1 John 1:1-4]
Specifically, the miracle of Jesus' resurrection is established by witnesses - Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:20; 5:30-32; 10:40-42; 1 Cor. 15:1-8.
We believe in miracles, not because they can be proved scientifically, but because we have valid historical evidence that they occurred - the testimony of witnesses.
Events of creation cannot be established by human witnesses, since none were present.
Romans 1:20 - We can observe that which has been created - i.e., the universe. But this is observation, not of the events of creation, but of the effect of those events. (Psalms 19:1)
By observing what has been created, science can tell us the universe exists and how it works now. Such observations also tell us that no current law or power of nature is sufficient to cause the universe. This compels us to accept the only logical alternative, which is the existence of a supreme, living, intelligent Creator.
But since it cannot observe or duplicate the events of creation themselves, science cannot tell us the details of what happened then. Specifically, it cannot tell us how long it took. If God did it, then it was a supernatural act beyond the power of natural law and it is a fact of history. It follows that we cannot use natural law to determine how it happened or how long it took.
Genesis 1:1,2,26,27; John 1:1-3,14; Job 38:4,12 - The Bible records the testimony of the only witnesses who have testified about events at creation: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The witnesses say it happened "in six days," and we have learned that the language used by the witnesses means six literal, consecutive days.
So by eliminating natural explanations for the universe, science can lead us to accept the only sensible alternative, which is creation. But witnesses are needed to describe what happened or how long it took. The testimony of the only witnesses is found in the Bible, and we know it is their message because of the miracles it records, including fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection.
When people today contradict the Bible record about creation, they fly in the face of historic fact. They use "science," which can prove nothing about miracles or history, to contradict history. In so doing, they impugn the testimony of God about what happened, and they throw doubt on the Bible record of all miracles.
All attempts to place long ages into creation simply contradict the Bible record.
We now consider efforts to prove that the days of creation must involve long ages. Many have already been discussed; we will consider some others. All arguments must be viewed in light of the evidence for literal days. As each is considered, ask yourself whether or not it constitutes evidence convincing enough to set aside the evidence we have offered for literal days.
Several attempts are made to argue that "day" can refer to a period longer than 24 hours. But we have already agreed the word can occasionally have such a meaning. However, that is not the meaning in contexts of literal history when used in the plural, with a number, with "evening and morning," etc., as already discussed. And "day" never refers to periods lasting millions of years.
A few cases are of special interest.
* Deut. 10:10 - See on "day" with an ordinal number.
* 2 Peter 3:8; Psalms 90:4 - See on "day" with a cardinal number.
* "Day" means "time" and only context can tell how long - See on "days" plural.
This verse, in the creation context, refers to "the day" that God made earth and heavens. It is argued that this must include more than one literal 24-hour period.
* We have granted that "day" in the singular may occasionally refer to more than just 24 hours. But that does not touch the arguments we have made regarding use of the plural, use with a number, etc. What evidence is there here to set aside the evidence we have offered for literal days of creation?
* Even if 2:4 referred to the whole creation period, that would only be six literal days, not a period of years, let alone millions of years.
[Note: My own personal belief is that Gen. 2:4 does refer to a literal day -- day 1, the day on which God created heaven and earth. Note how the events for each day in chap. 1 are described till the day concludes with "so the evening and the morning were the X day." If this view is correct, then the first day of creation began in 1:1 when God created heaven and earth. Then He created the light, etc., till the end of the day in 1:5. So all of 1:1-5 would have occurred on day 1. But whether this view is correct or not, nothing in Gen. 2:4 sets aside the additional evidence showing that "day" is literal in Creation accounts.]
It is argued that the events of day 6 must have taken longer than just 24 hours. If so, then the others may also be longer. Some specific arguments are as follows:
2:4-6 do not refer specifically to events on the sixth day of creation, but to earlier days. By any approach, two days passed from the time God made heaven and earth (2:4; cf. 1:1) till He caused plants to grow (2:5; cf. 1:11). And there is no record of rain for many years later - the earth was watered by a mist. So at the point in time referred to, God had not yet caused these things to happen - i.e., they happened later.
So what is the problem? We speak this way. If we are doing something for a few hours, but some part of it is not completed, do we not say we have "not yet" done that part? How does this prove creation involved many years, let alone millions of years?
The point is that Adam had viewed all the animals and none met his need for a companion (vv 18-20). When woman was created, "at last" he had found the one who met the need that all the others did not meet.
Again, what is the problem? If we are working on a difficulty for several hours then we finally find the solution, do we not say, "At last..."? How does this prove days had passed, let alone millions of years?
* Adam named only the land animals, cattle, and birds - vv 19,20. He did not need to name the fish or creeping things (insects or reptiles).
* He did not necessarily name every "species" according to modern definition. He may have named only a representative of each more general kind.
* The purpose was to demonstrate that none were suitable as a companion for him to marry and mate - vv 20-24. This would not require much time for each.
* Remember, creation events were miracles, which do not follow natural law. If God could speak into existence the earth, heavenly bodies, plants, animals, and people, why couldn't He likewise empower Adam to call out names for all kinds of animals in a few hours? If God could empower prophets to predict the future and do miracles clearly beyond human ability, why couldn't He empower Adam to name the animals in the time the Bible says it happened? Cf. Exodus 4:11,15 - Moses thought he could not speak what the Lord required, but God said He would be with Moses' mouth. Likewise, those who claim Adam could not speak what the Bible says He spoke need to realize that, if necessary, God would be with his mouth.
Regardless of the intent, arguments like this simply amount to a denial of clear Bible statements about miracles in order to satisfy human "scientific" reasoning. This demonstrates a lack of faith on the part of those who claim to believe the Bible. This exactly illustrates why we find the long-age view so troublesome. It becomes reasonable to ask, "What will we deny next?"
"Science" also says woman cannot come from man's side, and creation cannot occur simply because someone speaks commands, and the whole earth cannot be flooded by water, and a man cannot be born of a virgin, and a man cannot be raised from the dead, etc., etc. If we deny one Bible description of a miracle because it does not make sense to us, where will we stop?
What is there here that proves creation occurred, not in six days, but over billions of years?
Some claim that God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:1-3), and He is still resting (from creation) today (cf. Heb. 4:1-9). Unlike the other creation days, the seventh does not end by saying it consisted of "evening and morning." This implies the seventh day must not yet be complete. So the seventh "day" lasted thousands of years, therefore all the days could be long periods.
Our previous discussion demonstrated that "evening and morning" means, not simply completion, but a literal 24-hour day. This plus our other evidence proves that the other days were literal, which is our basic contention.
"Rested" in 2:2,3 is past tense. It simply means God took a break, a temporary rest. He did this in the past. He rested and was "refreshed" (Ex. 31:17). Is He still being refreshed today? The language means, not that God is still resting, but that He rested before Moses wrote about it.
God is clearly working today, not resting (John 5:6-18; etc.). We know that God is no longer creating, as in the days of creation, because 2:1 says he finished the heavens and earth and all their host. But this does not prove He is still resting in the sense of vv 2,3.
Hebrews 4:1-9 does not say God is still resting. It simply uses His rest on the seventh day to illustrate Israel's rest on the Sabbath day and our rest in heaven.
As discussed previously, God rested on the seventh day (v2) and blessed the seventh day and hallowed "it" (v3). What "it" did He hallow? He hallowed the seventh day for man to keep, because "it" was the day when God had rested - Exodus 20:8-11. But the Sabbath day - the "it" that man kept - was a literal day of rest following six days of labor. Therefore, the seventh day on which God rested was a literal day.
To try to disprove the significance of the time element in creation, some have cited examples of miracles that they claim were not instantaneous: creation required six days; the virgin birth required nine months; Jesus was in the tomb three days; the walls of Jericho were encircled seven days; giving the 10 Commands required 40 days; the wilderness wandering took 38 years; the conquest of Canaan took many years, etc.
For whatever reason, such arguments usually confuse what the actual miracle was. Remember, the miracle is the part that is impossible by natural law. For example:
* The miracle of the virgin birth was not the nine months in the womb nor even the birth, all of which happened according to natural law. The miracle was the conception, which was instantaneous (Matt. 1:20).
* The miracle of the resurrection was not the three days in the tomb but the restoring of life to Jesus' body. See Luke 24:23; Acts 1:3; 25:19; Revelation. 1:18; 2:8.
* The miracle of Jericho was not the marching but the falling of the walls.
* The revelation of God's will (such as the giving of the 10 Commands) was not a miracle of confirmation. God revealed His will gradually over hundreds of years, but He gave men specific powers to confrm the revelation was from Him. It was these miracles of confirmation that are so often said to be immediate or instantaneous.
* Creation was not one miracle but a series of many miracles accomplished one by one over a period of six days. By comparison, Jesus' miracles were often described as being immediate. Shall we deny that each miracle was instantaneous, because He did many of them over a period of three years?
* Where does the Bible ever say that the wilderness wandering or the conquest of Canaan was a miracle? Various specific miracles occurred during those periods, but neither event was miraculous of itself.
Bible "scholars" should be ashamed to use such cases to try to disprove the time element stated for creation. But suppose someone tried to apply the long-age approach to these events, like some folks do to creation? Suppose someone said the "days" Israel marched and the "days" Moses received the law and the "days" Jesus was in the tomb were actually long ages. Would he be a true Bible believer? If not, then why argue for long ages in creation?
As discussed previously, the time element is often an essential characteristic to demonstrate the supernatural nature of a miracle. If we deny that supernatural time element in order to harmonize with human wisdom and "science," then we undermine the miraculous nature of the event. We belittle the power of the miracle as evidence for God and His word, and we make it easier for people to believe that the event occurred by natural power.
Furthermore, we take the first step toward undermining other supernatural aspects of other Bible miracles. Where do we stop?
The only way to benefit from the power of Bible accounts of miracles is to accept those accounts as literal historic fact.
Some argue that other Old Testament "sabbaths" involved years not days (Lev. 25:4,5,8-55). So the point of importance regarding the Sabbath day was not the length of the days of creation but the number seven. The days of the week just represent the seven periods of creation, like the 8 days of the Feast of the Tabernacles represent the years of wilderness wandering.
The emphasis of all sabbath commands was on rest. The word means "rest," not "seven."
Some sabbath rests occurred at intervals unrelated to the number seven (Lev. 16:31; 23:32; 26:34; on 23:24,25 see KJV; Heb. 4:9).
The passage clearly states that God created all things in six days, so the people were to work for six days. Then God rested on the seventh day, so the people were to rest on the seventh day.
The only way to know what a holy day represented is by Scripture. Regardless of what other days represented, the Sabbath day represented the fact that God worked six days then rested on the seventh. God says so!
So a "sabbath" was a time of rest. It may or may not relate to the number seven. But the Sabbath day relates to the number seven because that is the day on which God rested. This was a Divine decree!
When people deny such clearly stated facts, they simply confirm our concerns. They follow human wisdom instead of God's clear statements. What will they set aside next?
On the sixth day God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. But obviously this took many years to accomplish. Some say this shows that long ages intervened between the days of creation: on the days of creation God simply gave the commands for things to exist, but many years were required for the commands to be fulfilled. (A similar argument is made on the growth of trees from Gen. 2:9, but everything said below applies there as well.)
The command to reproduce was fulfilled after the sixth day of creation ended, but this is not true of God's creative commands. The Bible says God's commands were fulfilled on the days of creation.
As already discussed the creation account clearly states, at the end of various creation days, that God saw what He made on that day and it was very good. So His creation commands were obeyed immediately, not gradually over millions of years. His commands were not just issued on the days of creation; they were fulfilled on those days.
Exodus 20:8-11 clearly says God made all things "in six days."
The reproduction of Genesis 1:28 cannot properly by compared to God's creative commands. God's creative acts were miracles accomplished by His supernatural power. The command to reproduce was not miraculous but occurred according to natural law.
Creation of the first man and woman took very little time because it was a miracle. But reproduction takes much longer, because it occurs by natural law. Are Progressive Creationists saying that creation occurred by natural law? If so, then that is simply theistic evolution! If not, then the comparison is not valid.
So Genesis 1:26-28 actually illustrates our real concern. To argue that fulfillment of God's commands took million of years is to contradict the Bible account and make it appear that God's creation commands could have been fulfilled by natural law, rather than by miracle. That is exactly what troubles us about this whole issue!
Some argue that the heavenly bodies measured the "days" beginning on day 4. Prior to that time there would be no way to determine the length of the days. Therefore, the "days" in Genesis 1 must be of undetermined length.
The argument itself grants this to be so. So surely the "days" could be literal days from day four onward. But the word "day" is used for all the days, they all consisted of "evening and morning," and they were all counted individually, etc., as already explained. Therefore "day" means the same when referring to the days before day four as it does when referring to the days after day four.
So literal days existed after day four; but all the days of creation were the same. Therefore all the days are literal days.
The heavenly bodies were assigned the task of measuring the days on day 4, but the days themselves existed since day 1. The days simply existed temporarily without the heavenly bodies to measure them.
Saying the length of days cannot be known if there were no heavenly bodies to measure them is like saying time cannot exist if you don't have a clock to measure it. Time passed at a consistent rate since the beginning of creation. It was measured as "evening and morning." The movement of the heavenly bodies just gave living things on earth a way to measure time.
Even without a "clock," God knows how much time passed. He says the events took place "in six days"!
Nothing here disproves our evidence for literal days and it surely does not prove the days of creation lasted millions of years each.
Some argue that God "created" (Heb. BARA) some things and this means forming from nothing (1:1,21,27 - the heaven and the earth, sea animals and birds, and man). But other things were "made" (ASSAH) and this means arranging and assigning a function to what already exists.
Some use this argument to defend a "gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 - God "created" heaven and earth, but then millions of years later He "made" everything else from what He had already "created" (Ex. 20:11). But even if true this would not prove that the days of creation in general were long days. Nor does it explain the use of "create" for the sea animals and man in 1:21,27.
Is the point that "creating" was miraculous, but "making" occurred by natural law so it would take long periods to accomplish? If this is not the point, then the argument proves nothing for long ages. But if this is the point, then it unquestionably argues for a form of theistic evolution!
Exodus 20:11 - God "made" (ASSAH) all things in six days. That includes the heaven and the earth and everything on them, which would include the sea animals and birds and the people that Genesis 1:21,27 says God "created." So what Genesis 1 says God "created" (BARA), Exodus 20 says He "made" (ASSAH).
Genesis 1:26,27 - V27 says God "created" (BARA) man in His own image, but v26 says God "made" (ASSAH) man in His own image.
Genesis 6:7 - God would destroy the man and animals and birds He had "created" (BARA) for He was sorry He "made" (ASSAH) them. Specifically, Gen. 6:7 says God "made" (ASSAH) the birds, but Gen. 1:21 says He "created" (BARA) them.
Genesis 2:4 - The heavens and the earth were "created" (BARA) in the day that God "made" (ASSAH) them. Surely this is the same event, not two separate events separated by millions of years. (Cf. v3.)
Genesis 5:1 - In the day God "created" (BARA) man He "made" (ASSAH) him in God's likeness.
Genesis 1:21 - God "created" (BARA) the sea animals, but He "made" (ASSAH) everything in the sea - Neh. 9:6.
Genesis 1:16 - God "made" (ASSAH) the sun, moon, and stars, but He "created" (BARA) them - Psalms 148:3-5.
Isaiah 43:7 - God "created" (BARA) everyone whom He "made" (ASSAH).
Clearly this argument proves nothing for long days in creation.
Some argue that God reveals Himself in nature and in the Bible (Psalms 19:1; Romans 1:20). We are then told that the Bible does not clearly tell how long creation took. The Bible account is "subjective" whereas science is "objective," so we must turn to nature (i.e., science) for the answer.
The Bible says only that nature can show us God's existence (Godhood), power, and glory (Rom. 1:20; Psalms 19:1). We cannot learn His will for our lives, nor can we learn history.
Nowhere does Scripture say science is a book of revelation, nor does it say it is equal to Scripture in authority.
The Bible says we can learn some lessons from the things God made: things of Divine origin (the heavens, etc.). But science is of human origin. It is conclusions man has reached from his observations about nature. It is fundamentally human wisdom, not Divine wisdom.
No Scripture says human wisdom and learning should be relied on as equal to Divine revelation. Rather, we will see that God often warns against the dangers of it.
As discussed earlier, the scientific method involves repeatable experiments about current processes. But the facts of creation are history. They cannot be repeated. So the only direct evidence about creation must be, not science, but history. See again John 8:17; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15.
Science may demonstrate that current processes could not form earth and life as we know it. This can be used to disprove evolution. That strengthens the case for creation by default, but science cannot directly prove the facts of creation.
Specifically, science can never prove or disprove any miracle, because by definition a miracle does not follow natural law! History can testify that miracles occurred, but to use science to establish the facts of a miracle is to miss the whole point!
Job 38:4,12 - Who was present to witness the historical facts of creation? "Were you there?" Only God was present, so only Deity can testify to the facts about what happened.
The only source of credible historical evidence about creation repeatedly testifies that it occurred in six days. Science cannot disprove this, because it is a supernatural event and a matter of history.
Note further that physical evidence about the distant past would be greatly altered by the flood. Forty days of rains accompanied by underground flooding (and probably volcanic action) followed by standing water worldwide for a year would cause incredible changes. This would also make it impossible for modern science to know for sure what happened before the flood.
The Bible claims to be the very word of God Himself -- 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2:10-13; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 16:13; Matthew 10:19,20; Galatians 1:8-12; 2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Luke 10:16.
As such, the Bible cannot be wrong, because God is never wrong. It never changes, because it never needs correction - Psalm 119:128; Titus 1:2; John 17:17; Psalm 33:4; 19:8; 147:4,5; Rom. 3:4; Job 37:16; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18; Deut. 18:20-22.
Where does the Bible ever make such claims for science?
Scientists openly and freely admit that science has often been wrong. Scientific views are continually being revised.
So where is the basis for claiming that science is as authoritative as Scripture in any area in which Scripture speaks?
Remember, science is human learning, human wisdom.
Consider these warnings:
1 Timothy 6:20 - Paul warned to avoid "science falsely so called" (KJV). Contrast this to what is said about Scripture in the verses above.
Romans 3:4 - Let God be true but every man a liar.
1 Corinthians 1:18-29 - Human wisdom often leads people to reject the gospel and the salvation it offers.
We should reject human wisdom whenever it disagrees with Scripture -- Matthew 15:9,13; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17; Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 14:12; 3:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13.
It follows that whenever science touches on matters revealed in God's word, Scripture must be accepted as authority. We must never accept "science" when it contradicts Scripture. In the end, true science will not contradict Scripture; but if human scientists disagree with Scripture then we must accept Scripture and realize that the human scientists are simply mistaken.
What about those who said the earth was the center of the universe till disproved by Galileo?
Those who opposed Galileo were leaders of the Catholic Church. Their views were actually based on ancient Greek scholars, not Scripture. The issue was not Scripture vs. science, but old "science" vs. new "science"!
So instead of teaching that Scripture should accommodate "science," Galileo's case proves the danger of compromising religious truth in order to accommodate "science." The case argues, not against those of us who defend the Scriptural teaching of literal days in creation, but against those who defend long ages in order to accommodate modern scientific hypotheses!
Of course, we must take care to properly understand Scripture. Nevertheless, the primary issue must always be what Scripture says. If Scripture clearly teaches a viewpoint, then we must defend it regardless of "science."
They argue that the Bible is not clear about how long creation lasted, but in reality Scripture is perfectly clear. The root problem generally is that people do not want to accept the Scripture because it disagrees with scientific theory!
Actually, a simple study of Scripture alone would never lead anyone to conclude that creation lasted long ages, let alone millions of years. Consciously or subconsciously, the idea of long ages in creation is placed in men's minds by so-called science.
Those who argue for long ages based on "two books of revelation" have actually rejected the teaching of Scripture in order to accommodate science. They have made human wisdom a higher authority than Scripture. This again demonstrates why we find this issue so troubling. Where else will human wisdom lead men to disagree with Scripture?
Some have written reams defending long ages, they have argued long that literal days cannot be proved, they have encouraged teachers to indoctrinate children to believe the long-age view, they have themselves traveled around the country teaching this to children (without the knowledge or consent of parents), and they have implied that those who teach literal days are driving people from faith in God.
But when others learn what's happening and object, then we are told that the issue is not important so we should keep quiet, while those who advocate long ages continue teaching error! (Some may drop the issue, but many vocal defenders do not.)
I am continually amazed at loose-thinking, liberal-minded people who continually say some issue is not important, so the rest of us should hush and let them have their way! If the advocates of long ages think this issue isn't important, why do they keep arguing about it? Why don't they drop the subject, instead of expecting those of us who disagree with them to hush?
Having defended our view at length, let us summarize the reasons we have given why the issue does matter:
1) Long ages undermine the integrity of Bible authority. If we reject clear statements in historic and doctrinal portions of Scripture relating to major Bible doctrine, what will we reject next?
2) Long ages deny a clear supernatural element (the time element) of a major Bible miracle. The effect is to make natural explanations seem more believable, thereby undermining the power of the miracle as evidence for God and His word.
3) Defenders of long ages use human wisdom (scientific hypothesis) as authority equal to - and in practice greater than - the authority of Scripture.
4) Rejecting a basic element of a major Bible miracle naturally leads to loose thinking and ultimate rejection of basic elements of other miracles, and ultimately to a complete rejection of the miracles themselves. Some long-agers already claim the flood may have been local instead of worldwide. What's next and how far do we go? Further compromises with theistic evolution? Compromises of the virgin birth or the resurrection? Where does it stop?
Biblical creation is at war with naturalistic evolution. As in every such war, compromise of principle weakens the side of truth. Instead of bringing the two extremes together, it simply adds another alternative view that alienates people into even more warring camps.
And such compromises satisfy neither side. Long ages will never satisfy those who insist on the historic and doctrinal accuracy of Bible accounts. But long ages likewise will never placate advocates of evolution. Much evidence can be cited to prove that they too are not fooled. People of both persuasions recognize long ages for what they are: a compromise of the evident intent of the Genesis account.
Copyright 2002, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale. Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.
for more Bible studies relating to creation or evolution.
|Bible Courses, Commentaries, Class Books|
|Bible Articles by Email|
Links from other web sites to this page or to our
home page are welcome and encouraged:
www.gospelway.com The Gospel Way: Free Bible Study Online Materials & Guides
Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.