What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 5

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In this series of posts, we are looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word yom as it is used in the first chapter of Genesis.  Does yom refer to a 24-hour day or to a long period of time?

Today we will review two final arguments from young earth creationists who assert that the 24-hour “day” is the correct interpretation of Genesis 1.  Again, we will use material from Norman Geisler’s systematic theology, volume 2.

First, young earth creationists accuse old earth creationists of actively supporting Darwinian evolution by interpreting long periods of time in Genesis.

It is well known that the theory of evolution (or common ancestry) depends on very long periods of time for life to develop from a one-celled animal to human beings. Without these long periods of time, evolution would not be possible. Thus, it is argued by young-earthers that granting long periods of time is an accommodation to evolution.

This is an important argument that persuades many Christians, so how would old earth creationists respond?

 In response to this charge, it must be observed that allowing for long periods of time for the development of life came long before the idea of evolution. Augustine (354–430), for one, held to long periods of time for the development of life (CG, 11.6).  Also, even in modern times, scientists had concluded that long periods of time were involved before Darwin wrote in 1859.  Furthermore, long periods of time do not help evolution, since without intelligent intervention, more time does not produce the specified complexity involved in life. Natural laws randomize, not specify. For example, dropping red, white, and blue bags of confetti from a plane at 1,000 feet in the air will never produce an American flag on the ground. Giving it more time to fall by dropping it at 10,000 feet will diffuse it even more.

The truth is that old earth creationists challenge the ideas of Darwinian evolution just as much as young earth creationists.  Neither group believes that evolution, alone, can explain how all of the diverse plant and animal species arrived on earth.  Both sides believe that evolution can explain limited change within species, but above the species level the evidence thins out rapidly.

Here is one final argument for the 24-hour “day” view.

Mark 10:6 affirms that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning.  According to this text, “At the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’”  If God created humankind at the beginning of Creation, then they were not created at the end of millions of years, as the old-earth view contends.

The response is fairly straightforward:

First, Adam was not created at the beginning but at the end of the creation period (on the sixth day), no matter how long or short the days were.
Second, the Greek word for “create” (ktisis) can and sometimes does mean “institution” or “ordinance” (cf. 1 Peter 2:13).  Since Jesus is speaking of the institution of marriage in Mark 10:6, it could mean “from the beginning of the institution of marriage.”
Third, and finally, even if Mark 10:6 is speaking of the original creation events, it does not mean there could not have been a long period of time involved in those creative events.

Thus concludes an introduction to some of the most popular young earth arguments and responses to them.  In future posts, we will look at further lines of evidence from the old earth creation side.  There is much more to be said about the old earth view, and considering that this view is rarely heard within the evangelical community, we should study them here.

  • God bless Bill Pratt, Dr. Geisler, Dr. Ankerberg and other who have shed light on this topic. The scripture adjures us to “have an answer for the faith that is within us”. We lose cognitive traction with unbelievers when trying to win them to Christ if we do not have comprehensible answers. Merv Waage, Denton, Texas

  • Merv-Waage

    Bill: I love your (Dr. Geisler’s) explanation as to the use of the word “yom”. Many things I have wondered about since my college days are falling into place. For example, I, too, wondered how there could be light on the first day but the sun wasn’t created until later. The various postulations all seem extremely plausible to me and assured me (as I always knew) that the Bible makes sense – it’s just that we need to meditate, think and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit. Keep up the good work ! Merv Waage

  • 1. Bill Pratt “First, Adam was not created at the beginning but at the end of the creation (*period)…”
    Jesus Christ “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” Mark 10:6

    *You had to add this to change the meaning of the text to make your point. But if you add “period” to the verse in mention you are calling Jesus a liar.

    2. “It could mean “from the beginning of the institution of marriage.”
    So in other words if you translate the Bible to say what you want it to say it will fit your doctrine?

    Page 4 of your defense had the only valid argument… which in no wise proves that day means anything other than an ordinary day.