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Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 1.22.36 PMR. C. Sproul, who drafted the original Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, once said, “When people ask me how old the earth is, I tell them I don’t know—because I don’t.”

Contrary to what is often implied or claimed by young-earth creationists, the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth.

Rather, it is a deduction from a combination of beliefs, such as (1) Genesis 1:1 is not the actual act of creation but rather a summary of or title over Genesis 1:2-2:3; (2) the creation week of Genesis 1:2-2:3 is referring to the act of creation itself; (3) each “day” (Heb. yom) of the creation week is referring to an 24-hour period of time (reinforced by the statement in Exodus 20:11); (4) an old-earth geology would necessarily entail macroevolution, hominids, and animal death before the Fall—each of which contradicts what Scripture tells us; and (5) the approximate age of the earth can be reconstructed backward from the genealogical time-markers in Genesis.

These five points may all be true, but I think it’s helpful to understand that the question “how old is the earth?” is not something directly answered in Scripture but rather deduced from these and other points.

It is commonly suggested that this is such a “plain reading” of Scripture—so obviously clear and true—that the only people who doubt it are those who have been influenced by Charles Darwin and his neo-Darwinian successors. The claim is often made that no one doubted this reading until after Darwin. (This just isn’t true—from ancient rabbis to Augustine to B. B. Warfield—but that’s another post for another time.)

So it may come as a surprise to some contemporary conservatives that some of the great stalwarts of the faith were not convinced of this interpretation.

  • Augustine, writing in the early fifth century, noted, ”What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible, to determine” (City of God 11.7).
  • J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937), author of the 20th century’s best critique of theological liberalism, wrote, “It is certainly not necessary to think that the six days spoken of in that first chapter of the Bible are intended to be six days of twenty four hours each.”
  • Old Testament scholar Edward J. Young (1907-1968), an eloquent defender of inerrancy, said that regarding  the length of the creation days, “That is a question which is difficult to answer. Indications are not lacking that they may have been longer than the days we now know, but the Scripture itself does not speak as clearly as one might like.”
  • Theologian Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003), one of the most important theologians in the second half of the twentieth century and a defender of Scriptural clarity and authority, argued that “Faith in an inerrant Bible does not rest on the recency or antiquity of the earth. . . . The Bible does not require belief in six literal 24-hour creation days on the basis of Genesis 1-2. . . . it is gratuitous to insist that twenty-four hour days are involved or intended.”
  • Old Testament scholar and Hebrew linguist Gleason Archer (1916-2004), a strong advocate for inerrancy, wrote ”On the basis of internal evidence, it is this writer’s conviction that yôm in Genesis could not have been intended by the Hebrew author to mean a literal twenty-four hour day.”

I want to suggest there are some good, textual reasons—in the creation account itself—for questioning the exegesis that insists on the days as strict 24 hour periods. Am I as certain of this as I am of the resurrection of Christ? Definitely not. But in some segments of the church, I fear that we’ve built an exegetical “fence around the Torah,” fearful that if we question any aspect of young-earth dogmatics we have opened the gate to liberalism. The defenders of inerrancy above show that this is not the case. And a passion for sola Scriptura provides us with the humility and willingness to go back to the text again to see if these things are so.

What follows are brief sketches of biblical reasons to doubt young-earth exegesis.

1. Genesis 1:1 Describes the Actual Act of Creation Out of Nothing and Is Not a Title or a Summary

Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is not a title or a summary of the narrative that follows. Rather, it is a background statement that describes how the universe came to be.

In Genesis 1:1, “created” is in the perfect tense, and when a perfect verb is used at the beginning of a unit in Hebrew narrative, it usually functions to describe an event that precedes the main storyline (see Gen. 16:1, 22:1, 24:1 for comparison).

Furthermore, the Hebrew conjunction at the beginning of Genesis 1:2 supports this reading.

If Genesis 1:1 is merely a title or a summary, then Genesis does not teach creation out of nothing. But I think Genesis 1:1 is describing the actual act of God creating “heaven and earth” (a merism for the universe, indicating totality—like “high and low,” “east and west,” “near and far,” “rising up and sitting down,” “seen and unseen”). Genesis 1:1 describes the creation of everything “visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16), with Genesis 1:2ff. focusing upon the “visible.”

After the act of creation in Genesis 1:1, the main point of the narrative (in Gen. 1:3-2:3) seems to be the making and preparation of the earth for its inhabitants, with a highly patterned structure of forming and filling.

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2. The Earth, Darkness, and Water Are Created Before “The First Day”

In Genesis 1:1, God creates the “heavens and the earth.” (In Joel 3:15-16 we see that “heavens” encompasses the sun, the moon, and the stars.) Then in Genesis 1:2 we are told that this earth that was created is without form and void, that darkness covers the waters, and that the Spirit is hovering over it.

If Genesis 1:1 is not the act of creation, then where do the earth, the darkness, and the waters come from that are referred to in Genesis 1:2 before God’s first fiat? Further, if the sun is created in day four (Gen. 1:16), why do we have light already appearing in Genesis 1:3?

It helps to remember that in Hebrew there are distinct words for create and make. When the Hebrew construction let there be is used in the phrase “Let your steadfast love . . . be upon us” (Ps. 33:22; cf. Ps. 90:17; Ps. 119:76), this obviously isn’t a request for God’s love to begin to exist, but rather to function in a certain way. Similarly, if the sun, moon, stars, and lights were created in Genesis 1:1, then they were made or appointed for a particular function in Genesis 1:13, 14, 16—namely, to mark the set time for worship on man’s calendar.

3. The Seventh “Day” Is Not 24 Hours Long

In Genesis 2:2-3 where we are told that “on the seventh day [yom] God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day [yom] from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day [yom] and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” The question we have to ask here is: was God’s creation “rest” limited to a 24-hour period? On the contrary, Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4 teach that God’s Sabbath rest “remains” and that we can enter into it or be prevented from entering it. 

Miles Van Pelt observes:

In Exod 20:11, the command for the people of God to remember the Sabbath day is grounded in God’s pattern of work and rest during the creation week. The people of God are to work for six solar days (Exod 20:9) and then rest on the seventh solar day (Exod 20:10). If, therefore, it can be maintained that God’s seventh day rest in Gen 2 extends beyond the scope of a single solar day, then the correspondence between the “day” of God’s rest and our “day” of observance would be analogical, not identical. In other words, if day seven is an unending day, still in progress, then our weekly recognition of that day is not temporally identical. As such, there is no reason to maintain that the same could not be true for the previous six days, especially if the internal, exegetical evidence from Genesis 1 and 2 supports this reality.

4. The “Day” of Genesis 2:4 Cannot Be 24 Hours Long

After using “the seventh day” in an analogical way (i.e., similar to but not identical with a 24-hour day), we read in the very next verse, Genesis 2:4: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day [yom] that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”

The precise meaning of this is debated. But what seems clear, if we believe the Bible does not contradict itself, is that this (singular) “day”—in which the creation events (plural “generations”) occur—cannot refer to a single 24-hour period. In fact, it does not seem to correspond to any one of the creation week days, but is either a reference to the act of creation itself (Gen. 1:1) or an umbrella reference to the lengthier process of forming and fitting the inhabitable earth (Gen. 2:2ff). In either case, this use of yom presents a puzzle for those who insist that “young-earth” exegesis is the only interpretation that takes the opening chapters of Genesis “literally.”

Defenders of the 24-hour view acknowledge that yom can mean more than a single calendar day but often insist that “[numbered] yom (e.g., “first day”) always, without exception, refers to a 24-hour day in the Hebrew Bible. This is not true, however. Not only does the rest of the canon tell us that the ”seventh day” is not 24 hours, but Hosea 6:2 (“third day”) seems to be used in an analogical way that does not refer to a precise 24-hour time period.

5. The Explanation of Genesis 2:5-7 Assumes More Than an Ordinary Calendar Day

In his article “Because It Had Rained” (part 1 and part 2), Mark Futato of Reformed Theological Seminary explains the logic of Genesis 2:5-7 and shows its role in OT covenantal theology.

Futato sees in this passage a twofold problem, a twofold reason, and a twofold solution.

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The twofold problem?

  1. No wild vegetation had appeared in the land.
  2. No cultivated grains had yet sprung up.

The twofold reason for this problem?

  1. The Lord God had not sent rain on the land.
  2. There was no man to cultivate the ground.

The twofold solution to this problem?

  1. God caused rain clouds to rise up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
  2. The Lord God formed the man.

Note the reason why there were no shrubs or small plants in the Garden: because “it had not yet rained.” The explanation for this lack of vegetation which is attributed to ordinary providence. But if the sixth day is a 24-hour period, this explanation would make little sense. The very wording of the text presupposes seasons and rain cycles and a lengthier passage of time during this “day [yom]” that God formed man. This doesn’t mean that it refers to thousands of years, or hundreds of years. It just means that it’s very doubtful it means a 24-hour period.

So What Does God Mean by “Days” in Genesis 1?

Let’s go back to the “seventh day.” On the seventh day, according to Exodus 31:17, God “rested and was refreshed.” Why would an omnipotent and inexhaustible God need to be “refreshed”? It’s the same Hebrew word used for getting your breath back after running a long race (Ex. 23:2; 2 Sam. 16:14). The reason it is not improper to say that God was refreshed is the same reason it’s not improper to say that God breathes, hovers, is like a potter, gardens, searches, asks questions, comes down, etc.—all images of God used in Genesis. God’s revelation to us is analogical (neither entirely identical nor entirely dissimilar) and anthropomorphic (accommodated and communicated from our perspective in terms we can understand).

So when God refers to “days,” does he want us to mentally substitute the word “eons” or “ages”? No.

Does he want us to think of precise units of time, marked by 24 exact hours as the earth makes a rotation on its axis? No.

Does he want us to think of the Hebrew workday? Yes, in an analogical and anthropomorphic sense. Just as the “seventh day” makes us think of an ordinary calendar day (even though it isn’t technically a 24-hour period), so the other “six days” are meant to be read in the same way.

This is what the great Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) believed: “The creation days are the workdays of God. By a labor, resumed and renewed six times, he prepared the whole earth.”

This is also what the Presbyterian theologian W.G.T. Shedd (1820-1894) advocated:

The seven days of the human week are copies of the seven days of the divine week. The “sun-divided days” are images of the “God-divided days.”

This agrees with the biblical representation generally. The human is the copy of the divine, not the divine of the human. Human fatherhood and sonship are finite copies of the Trinitarian fatherhood and sonship. Human justice, benevolence, holiness, mercy, etc., are imitations of corresponding divine qualities.

The reason given for man’s rest upon the seventh solar day is that God rested upon the seventh creative day (Ex. 20:11). But this does not prove that the divine rest was only twenty-four hours in duration any more than the fact that human sonship is a copy of the divine proves that the latter is sexual.

Augustine (the most influential theologian in the Western Church) believed something similar, as did Franz Delitzsch (perhaps the great Christian Hebraist). It was the most common view among the late 19th century and early 20th century conservative Dutch theologians.

God is portrayed as a workman going through his workweek, working during the day and resting for the night. Then on his Sabbath, he enjoys a full and refreshing rest. Our days are like God’s workdays, but not identical to them.

How long were God’s workdays? The Bible doesn’t say. But I see no reason to insist that they were only 24 hours long.

For more on this interpretation, see C. John Collins, Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary (P&R) and Vern Poythress, Redeeming Science: A God-centered Approach (Crossway).

For short and helpful resources on this, see Vern Poythress’s booklets, Christian Interpretations of Genesis 1 and Did Adam Exist? Also, it looks like the new book by Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker may now be the best introduction to the issues of creation and evolution in a concise and accessible yet thorough manner: 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution (Kregel, 2014).

Update: For a couple of good models of Reformed believers discussing these issues charity and care (instead of with rancor), I’d recommend Keith Matthison’s free ebook, A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture (originally a blog series) and the PCA’s Report of the Creation Study Committee.


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241 thoughts on “Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods”

  1. I will readily admit that this is a difficult hermeneutic for me to digest, because I’m still confused as to why the Scriptures use the singular “evening” and singular “morning” at “one” (singular) day for each of the first six days of creation. Would appreciate any insight you might share.

    1. Tom says:

      It’s basically just a formula that shows that marked a start and a finish.

      1. Richard says:

        I don’t think that is an adequate explanation.

        1. Doug Campbell says:

          I think ‘evening and morning’ seal the literal day for me. Isn’t that the pattern the Jewish people pattern their definition of a day after?
          I could agree Gen.1:1 is about the creation of the universe since the earth is existing before verse 2. But not long ages where death exists before the Fall. That goes against sin beginning with Adam.
          I am a pastor with little knowledge of Hebrew, but the text seems clear enough as it stands, as it has to most believers for centuries.

        2. Jas.C.Brooke says:

          “Evening and morning” help to structure the Genesis 1 narrative while also alluding to the Passover event…

          As seen in Exodus 16 (v6,7 as an example), “evening and morning” became a sign that God continues to act to benefit his people just as he did on the evening and morning of the Passover itself.

          My own work on this has led me to conclude that Genesis 1 presumes its audience already had this understanding. And so in this context, Genesis 1 uses “evening and morning” to present the whole of creation (not just Israel) as recipients of God’s porvision – shaping and populating the whole world around them!

          NB. How God relates to ALL people is an important theme in Genesis chapters 1-11

        3. Tony says:

          I appreciate the post, Justin – well presented, thorough and succinct – but I also still struggle with the idea there could be a significantly different “plain meaning” than the most obvious “plain meaning” for “morning and evening” on the first 6 days.

          I completely agree that God’s analogical and anthropomorphic actions in the opening of Genesis could be plainly seen that way by ancient Israel since, as the Law and the rest of the OT unfolds (and right in Genesis 1 itself), all of His omni- traits are made more and more clear. If they weren’t, we’d have to ask if God really does change His location and has limits in His knowledge since that would be a possible reading of the opening of Genesis. It’s striking to me that we don’t see this same kind of process of clarification happening with the historical details of what God did in creation. If anything, the idea of six literal days is reinforced as you read through the OT and the NT as well.

        4. jim says:

          I agree that what is offered is not an adequate exegetical explanation. What would the Hebrews in the wilderness assumed it meant?

      2. Josh says:

        I would also add that the unique configuration – “evening and then morning” de-emphasize the a literal 24-hour period and emphasize the ending of work. We mark the days morning to evening, because we can begin working once the light has come. Marking them the other way, suggests that the day (analogical) is continuing until the work is done. Which is to say that way of marking the days reinforces the above interpretation.

        1. Jason says:

          You do, because you are a 20th Century Westerner. The Hebrews marked their days evening to evening, so evening came and then morning is a way of referring to a whole day.

          Since God himself defined the day for normal usage earlier in Genesis, a period of light and a period of darkness making one day, it’s remarkable that these debates still exist.

    2. Brett says:

      I’m not sure I even understand your question, but I thought I’d take a stab at it anyway. The refrain “there was evening and there was morning” most naturally refers simply to the night. It cannot refer to the Hebrew way of reckoning a day (evening to evening). Nor can it refer to the daytime (morning to evening). It cannot refer to a 24 hr period (morning to morning). It most naturally refers to the nighttime. So each section would read “[God’s activities…] there was night, the nth day.” Numbers 9:15-16 is confirmatory with Psalm 104:23 giving its significance to man:
      On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 16 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. (Numbers 9:15-16, ESV)
      19 He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. 20 You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. . . 23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. (Psalm 104:19-20, 23, ESV)
      (See also Gen 30:16; Ex 18:13)
      So we see that this phrase “Evening and morning” is virtually identified as the night. This makes sense in the context of Genesis 1 where we see God working during the “day” and not working during the night (between evening and morning). This is fairly straightforward and should be non-controversial.

    3. fran idziak says:

      I’ll say right up front to everyone here that I find no Biblical reason to ever doubt the clear, obvious, repeated Word of God and I find this article from title to finish to be a disturbing example of apostasy in the church today (i.e. a departure from truths held sacred for all generations). The writer esteems what other men have said rather than what God Himself is saying, and for what possible purpose other than to stand with the evolutionist in undermining faith and inciting doubt in minds to shake those not firmly established in the faith? God is speaking to us plainly in Gen.1 where He personally sets the length of each day from the first day until the present–from sun set to sun set. No, we may not know the exact age of the earth but God tells us He created the first man, Adam, on the 6th day, then also tells us Adam lived for 930 years (Gen.5:3), and gives the number of years in the genealogy of Adam to Noah and the years of Noah’s genealogy to Abraham’s and so on, making it possible for us to know at least the approximate age of the earth. If we believe–and I do–that sin and death by sin came into the world through the first man, Adam, as Scripture clearly teaches consistently and repeatedly in God’s Word–Gen.3:6; Rom.5:12; 1 Cor.16:21-22–then I suggest we call God a liar if we say there were billions of years forming layers of dead things that oozed out of boiling slime and goo to finally walk uprightly on 2 legs. No, we cannot put God in our box as some like to say, but God has chosen to restrict Himself within the perimeter of His Own Word in that every word the Lord has spoken stands forever true, God Himself is truth and He cannot lie. Heb.6:18.

      I contend that we have every Biblical reason not to doubt that these events happened exactly and simply as God has told us in Gen.1. Heb.11:1-3 tells us that it is by faith we understand–not by man’s intellect– that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God so that what is seen was made out of what is not seen–by faith we understand that the God for Whom nothing is too difficult spoke light into His creation on the 1st day, separated the dry land, seas and heavens on day2, filled the earth with vegetation on day 3, and on the 4th day of His creation God spoke the sun, moon and stars into being, set them in their places, and He tells us why He did so.

      This article not only esteems man’s intellect above God in casting doubt upon God’s message to us all, it consistently fails to adhere to the primary principle of safe, sound study in ignoring the rule of context. Context is determined by that which is repeated; it is the environment within which the text dwells. A thing–anything– removed from context becomes a pretext for something else. This writer is oblivious to context. He challenges the Author of Scripture from title to end, planting seeds of doubt and confusion wrapped in scholarly sounding jargon, which those who are unsaved, young in Christ, untaught are impressed and intimidated by. Sorry if that offends those who applaud the article.

      Genesis is a historical narrative written so straightforwardly that even a child can understand God’s message. (Where there are passages within Genesis in which figurative speech, prophecy, or poetry may be used, the context both identifies and explains their intended meaning.) Genesis 1 is purely a literal, historical account of how the Creator spoke this creation into being in 6 literal days and should be interpreted and understood as such. God uses the singular repeatedly for each day–in verse 5, verse 8, verse 13, verse 19, verse 23, and verse 31 because He wants us to understand and believe that one day means exactly one day. The repetition of the phrase, “evening and morning, one day” gives the logical deduction that the 7th, 8th, and every day after from that day to this day are of the same duration. This is so clearly stated that even a child can tell you what God means by the word day. There is no reason whatsoever to suggest that the 7th day was somehow any different in length than the 6 previous days, as implied in this article. God rested–and continues resting to this day and forever–from the specific work of creating these heavens and this earth because it had been finished to perfection with nothing more to be done to it–just as the believer enters into eternal rest through faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary. Remembering the 7th day and keeping it holy together with all the rest of the old covenant of law is given as a tutor to lead us to faith in Messiah in Whom the promise of eternal rest still remains available.

      The writer proposes there is Biblical reason to doubt God’s Word because there was light on day 1 yet sun, moon and stars do not appear until day 4. I am fully convinced that God Himself is Light and the source of all light. God didn’t need the sun to provide light; the particular illuminating properties of energy created in the sun, moon and stars were components of His plan from the beginning, necessary for the vegetation He spoke into being upon the earth on day 3. The first glorious sunrise occurred on the morning after after God created plant life upon the earth. The Lord tells us these lights which He spoke into being and personally placed in the heavens are given for specific purposes in addition to separating day from night, i.e. measuring the length of each day. They are for signs and seasons and days and years, He explains, within the very context in which He repeats the fact that each day consists of a single evening followed by a single morning. Sun and moon light tell us the length of each day in Gen. 1 just as sun and moon tell us the length of this day. Gen.1:14-18.

      The writer also questions God’s ability to water the earth without cycles of rain when God clearly says He caused a midst to rise up and water the the whole surface of the ground in Gen.2:6, and the first mention of rain ever falling upon the earth is in Gen.7:4. The Lord had continued to water the earth with a gentle midst until the earth was judged by water. Rainfall watered the earth thereafter; thus God gave the rainbow as a reminder of His promise never to destroy all flesh by water again, Gen.11:7-17.

      In conclusion it would be far more profitable for us all to invest our time seeking to be taught truth in personal, prayerful study of God’s sure Word rather than in the reading of anything promising to provide reasons, “Biblical” or otherwise, to doubt the 6 days of creation mean anything other than from sunset to sunset, or anything else that God hath surely, clearly and repeatedly said.

      1. Julia says:

        Thank you so much for your comment here! You have put into words what I’ve been thinking, but so much better than I could. I’m grateful for your clear and comprehensive stand for the truth!

  2. Erick Cobb says:

    Thanks so much for doing this!

  3. Jackson Wu says:

    Nice post. This will help people. You would suggest you rethink the first point in the argument. It is a bit weak. The use of the conjunction in 1:2 is insignificant given its usage in other places that seem to function as section headings. Also, the point depends in some measure on classifying Gen 1 as “narrative.” Given how radically different it is from anything else people consider narrative, then it may even be begging the question to assume so form the beginning. Creation language is like apocalyptic language––in large respect, they are categories of their own. Thanks again.

    1. Brett says:

      I think the evidence goes the other direction. John Collins notes that “The normal use of the perfect in the opening of a pericope is to designate an event that took place before the main storyline got underway.” For example:
      Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1, ESV)
      Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1, ESV)
      After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1, ESV)
      Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. (Genesis 16:1, ESV)
      The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. (Genesis 21:1, ESV)
      Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.(Genesis 39:1, ESV)
      Now the famine was severe in the land. (Genesis 43:1, ESV)
      In each of these cases, we are given background information to that pericope. The main storyline then utilizes the wayyqtol form to advance the narrative. Therefore, Genesis 1:1-2 is best understood asbackground, representing an unknown length of time prior to the beginning of the first “day”

  4. ty says:

    what do you think of Sailhammers view outlined in Genesis Unbound?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      I think it’s largely compatible with what I’ve written here. In particular, I follow him on Gen 1:1. I’m not as convinced that Gen 1:2f is only about the preparation of the proto-promised land. I once had a brief conversation in person with him about this (years ago now), and he humbly said something to the effect that he might be wrong, but an interpretation at least had to account for the unique features of the text he was identifying.

  5. Jonathan Smith says:

    Setting aside the numerous appeals to authority in this piece, my main observation is that any commentary on the days in Genesis 1 is necessarily incomplete without relating it to Exodus 20:11 and 31:17. So I’d be interested in reading the author’s views on this point.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks for commenting Jonathan. There is a whole paragraph devoted to Ex 20:11 above.

    2. Justin Taylor says:

      One other quick thought: if you track the arguments carefully, you’ll see that I’m not really appealing to authority here. The quotes are designed to show what many don’t know: that many inerrantist stalwarts say the flaws in the YE exegesis and weren’t going liberal in so doing.

      1. Justin says:

        Given some of the more public YEC vitriol toward opposing views, I think the citation of authorities outside the YEC camp is helpful to show a false definition of orthodoxy that is often constructed by some YEC.

    3. Chris says:

      “Setting aside the numerous appeals to authority in this piece,”

      Is not YEC entirely premised on an appeal to authority? Does it not discount significant scientific evidence based on one interpretation of a text? There is no ‘clear’ reading of the text. There is no ‘sola scriptura.’ Everyone interprets, and that interpretation is influenced on one’s own position and inherent biases. All truth is God’s truth, and the correct interpretation is likely the one that is compatible with truth from other sources.

      1. Ryan says:

        “Significant scientific evidence”? What might that be? In my experience, everyone makes the boast but lacks the substance.

        1. Brett says:

          I’d say light travel time is a big one.

          1. Rob says:

            That’s under the assumption that light always travels the same speed everywhere – even though the speed of light depends on what medium it is traveling in. v = c ~ 186,000 miles/sec in a vacuum. The assumption is the light from the stars we see took n number of years to get here, but that doesn’t mean the earth was where it is that entire time as the light from all those stars in the distance made their way here. We can only assume… they were either already there or not. It doesn’t specifically say every single star we see was created right then and there. We just has to assume so or not.

          2. Ryan says:

            The point of my response was, What is the “significant scientific evidence” that YEC “discounts” based on their “one interpretation of a text”?

            Speed of light isn’t an issue: you’re presupposing that travel time proves an old universe, rather than the possibility that the universe, as was Adam, was created with the appearance of age.

          3. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

            The light travel problem is also a problem for Big Bang theory. It’s called the Horizon Problem and its effectively the same problem.
            Alan Guth and others proposed inflationary BB models to get around it, but all are known to be objectively wrong.

  6. Michael says:

    This is a lot of work to prove that the above verses don’t really mean what (most) people have always thought it meant.

    You did not deal with the hardest and clearest two texts on this issue. Both Moses and Jesus have already interpreted this issue for us. Exodus 20:11 can only be interpreted one way if you are an Israelite listing to Moses’ sermon. Also Jesus is clear in Mark 10:6. Do you think Moses and Jesus believed that God created the earth in 24 hour days? Did they believe in a young earth?

    Also, people should stop using Augustine without looking at what he really said. He was combating those who thought God created everything in an instant. Augustine’s view was nowhere close to what Old Earthers hold today.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Michael, thanks. A couple of quick comments: I am familiar with Augustine’s views. It doesn’t take away his point about the days. And you may have missed it but there is a whole paragraph above devoted to Ex 20:11.

    2. kpolo says:

      Mark 10:6 I think is one of the strongest arguments for YEC. For the question arises – exactly when did Adam and Eve appear in the creation chronology? After 13.6 Billion years? So Jesus at 13.600004 billion years states that “from the beginning of creation” and we are to interpret the beginning of creation as an event that happened after 99.99999% of history had passed?

  7. Paul Taylor says:

    There is no place in the Old Testament outside of Genesis 1 where the word yom means anything other than a 24-hour day IF it is accompanied by a number. The yom</em of Genesis 2:4 is not accompanied by a number.

    Consider Numbers 7. Moses is waiting for the 12 tribes to bring their gifts for the Tabernacle. Judah comes on the first day, on the second day it is Issachar and Zebulun on the third day. These are obviously literal 24-hour days. But the grammar is identical to Genesis 1. There is therefore no hermeneutical reason for granting anything other than that the Genesis 1 days are 24-hour days.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks, Paul. I explicitly deal with that objection above, quoting Hosea 6:2 to show a place where YOM with a adjectival number is not a reference to a 24-hour day.

      1. LR says:

        Hos 6:2 is a different usage of YOM than Gen 1 (Hos 6:2 is a construct, not absolute; Gen 1 are absolute). Nowhere in the Bible is YOM as used in Gen 1 mean anything other than 24 hour day.

        I am also not sure why you claim that the seventh day is longer than 24 hours. That is not something that comes from the text. That the seventh day was a day of rest is not incompatible with God also resting on day 8, 9, 10, etc. You read too much into the text by claiming the day 7 is longer than 24 hours.

        1. Justin Taylor says:

          I think the point on Hos 6:2 still stands, even if it’s in a slightly different form. And actually, it appears that the construct of Gen 1:8, 13, 19, 23 is unique, not replicated elsewhere in the OT. So I think this is a dilemma for YEC interpreters: (1) insist that numbered YOM always means 24-hour day, but then when someone shows this isn’t the case, (2) insist that only the precise form of numbered YOM equals a 24 hour day, and not then also acknowledge that (3) that precise form is only found in Gen 1. The argument just isn’t as airtight as it first appears.

          1. Paul Taylor says:

            Hosea 6:2 does not help your argument. The phrase as a whole refers to a vague period of time, but only because the “two day” or “third day” refer to exact numberings. This is a standard OT construction, using the X / X+1 formula. The same effect is seen in Amos 1:3. It is similar to an English construction, thus: if I say “I will be on vacation for 2 or 3 days”, but then I am away for 5, have I lied? Of course not. The phrase “2 or 3 days” as a whole is vague. But the “2 days” is an exact number of days, as is the “3 days”. In other words, the phrase only works, if the constituent parts refer to exact numbers, even though the whole constitutes uncertainty. So Hosea 6:2 is not evidence for the use of vagueness, when numbers are used in conjunction with days. In fact, it works precisely and ONLY because a number in conjunction with the Hebrew yom always refers to 24-hour days. And this is the ONLY verse in the entire Old Testament where the possibility of vagueness exists. So the point remains – the word yom always, without exception, refers to 24-hour days when accompanied by either ordinal or cardinal numbers – unless you want to apply a different hermeneutic to Genesis 1 than to the rest of the Old Testament.

          2. Casey says:

            It doesn’t really matter if the they are 24 hour days grammatically if they are being used analogically or figuratively in some way.

          3. LR says:

            Being a “slightly different form” is a big deal since the entire argument grammatically, is based on the form. And it is not simply having a number attached to it (your #1). I don’t know of any YEC who says that. It’s more than that. Gerhard Hasel answered this definitely some years ago. His article is well worth being familiar with.

            1. Brett says:

              I think Casey is right. I think that normal work days are what is in view, but if it is understood analogically, then they wouldn’t necessarily be 24 hr days. For instance, when we read “A mighty fortress is our God,” I think we are intended to picture a real fortress in our mind. Even though God is not a physical fortress, that is the image that should come to our head when the metaphor is applied.

        2. Mike Tisdell says:

          The 6th day in Ge. 1:31 is also a construct and so is the 7th day in verse 2:3. By your reasoning that should be a strong indication that these days are not intended to be literal, right? Again, based on your reasoning, because the 7th day is described in both a constructed and non constructed form (and later described as unending) doesn’t that give us reason to believe that other non-construct instances in Ge. 1 could also be non-literal?

          1. LR says:

            Um, No. Gen 1:31 is the same as the rest of them. I think you have missed the argument. Have you read Hasel? BTW, Waltke says the same thing in Crux magazine that the author intended 24 hour days.

            1. Mike Tisdell says:

              Clearly you don’t read Hebrew so let me explain. In Hebrew the definite article (ה) is prefixed to the noun unless it is in the construct state. In the construct state a definite noun cannot have an article. The first five days in Ge. 1 are all indefinite (i.e. they have no article), the sixth day is a construct (identical the Ho. 6:2 verse) lacking the article on the noun. Here are the days as listed in Ge. 1. Note that none of the days until day six include the article (the prefixed ה) and in day six the ה is not included on the word day (יום), if this were absolute and not construct it would be היום הששי.
              יום אחד one day
              יום שני a second day
              יום שלישי a third day
              יום רביעי a forth day
              יום חמישי a fifth day
              יום הששי day of THE sixth (note the article that is now included on “the sixth” but not day?)

              In looking at Hosea 6:2, I did realized that as it is pointed, it is actually not in the construct. In Hos. 6:2 we have ביום השלישי. The prefixed ב with the patah below includes the article. So unless you can demonstrate that the pointing in the text is incorrect then this is actually an absolute noun and not a construct noun like we do have on the sixth day. I took your word for the construct in this verse and shouldn’t have. I should have checked myself.

              1. LR says:

                Thanks Mike, but I actually read Hebrew. I have a ThM in OT. I got all A’s in Hebrew including Rapid Hebrew Reading and every single Hebrew exegesis class I took. Granted it’s been more than 15 years and now I only sight read Hebrew to keep up a bit and use Hebrew in pastoral ministry so my grasp is not as technical as it once was. However, I can still translate on sight fairly easily in narrative portions. Other sections are harder, as I am sure you know. But nonetheless, my Hebrew is not the problem.

                In sum, either we are talking past each other or you are confused by what the argument is. You are correct that Hos 6:2 is not a construct. I mispoke writing quickly and from memory. It is a prepositional phrase. The point is that it is a different grammatical construct than Gen 1. YOM as used in Gen 1 in the Bible always appears to mean a 24 hour day (e.g., Num 7, Num 29). If the author of Genesis 1 intended to communicate 24 hour days, there is no other way to do it. This is exactly what he would have said. If he meant a longer period of time, there are many other ways to do it and the OT is filled with them while this particular way is never used to indicate anything longer than a 24 hour day. That has to mean something in exegesis. One of the major points of exegesis is the grammar and syntax. If we just skip over that, we have missed something really important. The point is that Hos 6:2 is not a similar case.

                For more support, BDB says YOM in Gen 1 is “a day as defined by evening and morning.” None other than Bruce Waltke (whose Hebrew credentials no one disputes) says “To be sure, the six days in the Genesis creation account are our twenty-four hour days” (“The Literary Genre of Genesis Chapter One,” Crux 27 [December 1991]: 8). Gerhard Hasel makes the point very well.

                In addition, you should be familiar with Robert McCabe’s critique of the framework interpretation in Coming to Grips with Genesis. There he deals with this particular issue as well as the Framework Theory as a whole. Whether you are ultimately persuaded or not, it is a critique that is a must read on the topic. He addresses at length the issue of the length of days.

              2. Mike Tisdell says:

                The phrase in Hos. 6:2 is actually identical to the phrase (used twice) in Ge. 2:2

                In Ge 2:2 we have ביום השביעי (in the seventh day) repeated twice.
                In Hos 2:2 we have ביום השלישי (in the third day).

                The grammar for these is identical.

                While it is true that the usage of יום in Ge. 1 could be used in reference to a literal 24 hour day, there is clearly no grammatical or semantic demand for such an interpretation. These questions are always answered by context and the text of Ge. 1 is very unique and doesn’t provide a lot of similar examples to compare against. Additionally the text raises a lot of questions that are glossed over in most translations.

                1) Why is Ge. 1:5 יום אחד (one day) instead of the expected יום ראשון (a first day)?
                Note: some version translate this as “the first day” which is a very bad translation of this phrase. These same translations translate this exact same phrase as “one day” throughout the rest of the OT.

                2) Why do the first five days lack the definite article?
                Note: many English translations include the article despite its absence in the text.

                3) Why is the sixth day in the construct form and definite when all of the prior days were indefinite?

                4) Why is the seventh day represented by a definite absolute twice and then a construct definite afterwards?

                5) Why is Ge. 2:4 speak of only one day of creation?

                Sadly most English translations hide these textual difficulties from their readers with highly interpretive translations. The only major translation of which I am aware that brings most of these issues into the English text is the NASB.

              3. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Andrew Steinman explained the numbering in Gen 1 some years ago now in an article published in JETS:
                http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/45/45-4/45-4-PP577-584_JETS.pdf

              4. Mike Tisdell says:

                I am aware of this argument but I believe it to be flawed. The construction used in Ge. 1 is never used anywhere else in Scripture as an ordinal; one must recognize that when you add the preposition ל to the phrase it changes the meaning of phrase similar to the way it affects other phrases i.e. יש (there is) but יש לי (I have), היה מלך (he was a king) but היה למלך (he became a king), etc… To ignore the addition of this preposition in this phrase is a very significant mistake.

              5. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Mike, a similar construction (yom + article + ordinal) is used in may places in the OT. The only difference is the article prefixing the ordinal, but this is inconsequential: Gen 1 (days 2 to 5) lack the article, thus the translation “a second day”, ” a third day” etc. The other instances in the OT have the article thus the translation “the second day”, “the third day” etc. The sixth day in Gen 1 does have the article because it represents the final culmination of God’s creative activity, thus it is “the sixth day”…

                Not sure what you’re on about re the preposition le. I agree it changes the meaning, but there is no prefixed preposition to the instances in Gen 1.

              6. Mike Tisdell says:

                Andrew,

                Based on your comment I think you and I both agree that the paper you presented is flawed. In the paper the author uses examples like ביום אחד לחדש that include the preposition ל and then argues that יום אחד which does not include the preposition ל should be understood the same way. As you said, and I agree, the preposition ל changes the meaning and these examples should not be considered equal.

              7. Mike Tisdell says:

                You said,

                “Most words have a broad semantic range but you can’t import that range into every instance.”

                I never said that you could import the entire range into every instance but you can frequently import a much broader range than you can in English. That was my point. This one of the primary reasons that English translations of the OT frequently diverge from one another. Example, does proverbs refer to a child or a youth (pr. 22:6)?

                You said,
                “Every instance only has one meaning and the context (including the grammatical relationships to other words) is the determiner.”

                This is frequently untrue.

                You said that the statement “I know of no Ancient Semitic Language (including Hebrew) where the authors ever concerned themselves with the level of semantic detail that this author is insisting that Moses intended.” Sorry but this is the most ridiculous statement I have heard in a long time.”

                Please show me another example where an author uses a grammatical construction to define for his audience the specific meaning of a word as the author of your paper has claimed. If you are unable to find such an example, then maybe my statement was not so “ridiculous?” Note, this is very different than the normal and natural narrowing of a semantic range that comes from context. The latter is not what the author of the JETS paper is arguing.

                You said,
                “Steinmann’s paper was published in the premier evangelical peer reviewed journal (JETS). It would not have been published if it was flawed.”

                Clearly you do not understand the process of peer review. Peer review happens after an article is published in a journal. If the standards is, it was published in JETS it must be without flaw then you are left in quite a quandary because other articles published in JETS argue for non-literal or non-chronological. Are these articles also without flaw?

            2. Mike Tisdell says:

              Just for clarification, the article you posted argues that day + cardinal (Ge. 1:5) should be understood as day + ordinal because examples like prepositon be + day + cardinal + preposition le + month are understood as a cardinal. This understanding of day + cardinal as simply day + ordinal is what I indicated was not found anywere else in the OT. Everywhere else the preposition le is required to change the meaing.

              1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Mike, you obviously haven’t read the paper I cited. Read it properly. All of it.
                The article is not flawed, though your understanding of the argument it makes may well be.
                For Gen 1:5, it argues the exact opposite of what you claim. Steinmann and I agree that Gen 1:5 should be translated as a cardinal “one day” because it defines what actually is a normal day.

              2. Mike Tisdell says:

                I had not read the conclusion of the paper and the first several pages appeared to be making the same tired arguments for why יום אחד should be translated “the first day.” His conclusions are unique but still flawed. I know of no Ancient Semitic Language (including Hebrew) where the authors ever concerned themselves with the level of semantic detail that this author is insisting that Moses intended. Words in all ancient Semitic languages generally have much broader semantic range of meaning and communication in these languages is generally much less precise than it is in modern western languages (especially English). In order to make the case this author is trying to make, he would need to show examples where this kind of defining of a word was done anywhere else in any related culture. After reading his conclusions I still believe his thesis to be flawed.

              3. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Mike,

                Most words have a broad semantic range but you can’t import that range into every instance. Every instance only has one meaning and the context (including the grammatical relationships to other words) is the determiner.

                You said: “I know of no Ancient Semitic Language (including Hebrew) where the authors ever concerned themselves with the level of semantic detail that this author is insisting that Moses intended.”

                Sorry but this is the most ridiculous statement I have heard in a long time. You appear to be confusing a language’s semantic richness and precision with the author’s intention.

                Steinmann has demonstrated from the OT itself that author’s have used contextual modifiers to expand the semantic range of a simple common word. The presence of certain contextual modifiers determines which precise nuance the author intended to communicate.

                And with respect to the author’s intention how can you possibly know what Moses (or any other author) intended apart from what they actually wrote?

                Steinmann’s paper was published in the premier evangelical peer reviewed journal (JETS). It would not have been published if it was flawed.

                You are free to believe it is flawed if you wish, but you are not free to be correct.

    2. Mike Tisdell says:

      In 2 Chr. 21:19, the Hebrew text reads “two days” but almost EVERY English translation reads “two years”

      In Zach. 14:7, the Hebrew text speaks of “one day” (just like in Gen. 1:5) and an evening but this text refers to the eternal day of God.

      1. LR says:

        2 Chron 21:19 is plural, not singular as in Gen 1. Zech 14:7 is contextually referring to a “unique day,” something that is absent from the context of Gen 1. So these are not parallel usages.

        1. Mike Tisdell says:

          It is plural because it refers to two days (plural even in English). The point is that it is a reference in the text to ONLY two days but scholars recognize that the intended meaning is “two years” and not 48 hours.

          1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

            The translation of 2 Chron 21:19 is actually contentious and the common translation “2 years” is highly problematic. Curtis & Madsen (ICC) translate it as: “And it came to pass after a prolonged time and at the time when the end [of his life] came, during two days his bowels were going out by reason of his sickness and he died”
            This translation best accounts for the syntax of the Hebrew.
            In any case, it is a different construction to that found in Gen 1, which has singular day (yom) and the ordinal two ie. second.

            1. Mike Tisdell says:

              The plural in this case really doesn’t make a difference and as we noted above, day one uses a cardinal and not an ordinal.

              1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                The plural does make a difference because it means this instance is not at all comparable to the instances in Gen 1.

              2. Mike Tisdell says:

                Actually it is very comparible to the use in Ge. 1 i.e. a fixed number of days as identified by a cardinal. In Ge. 1:5 the fixed number of days is 1 and so the noun is singular, in 2nd Chr. 21 the fixed number of days is greater than 1 and so the noun must be plural; however, both verses identifiy a fixed number of days using a cardinal number.

              3. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                That’s special pleading Mike. You need to offer something more substantive than that. yom + cardinal (ehad) is used in 8 other places in the OT and never does it refer to a year.
                And as I said, the instance in 2 Chon 21:19 is contentious so you can’t seriously build a solid exegetical argument on this.

          2. LR says:

            This is a bit ironic. You are claiming that Hos 6:2 is plural referring to two days, but at the same time claiming that the singular in Gen 1 can’t refer to one day. I think you are really straining here.

            You raised a bunch of question and claim that the text glosses over these issues. And yet you haven’t shown that to be the case, and in fact, it is very unlikely that there are any actual issues there that are glossed over.

            You ask, for instance, why Gen 2:4 speaks of one day of creation. Mike, that’s just a strange question. Why would you think it is only speaking of one day? That is a construct (“in the day of his creating”) and in the context it is clearly six days. “In the day” constructions are typically not (if ever) 24 hour days. That particular construction is almost always used to refer to periods of time in the OT. A simple search of the phrase can verify that right out of the box and remove any tension involved.

            You discount by saying that the context of Gen 1 is unique. But that’s not something you got from Gen 1. The context of Gen 1 indicates a week of days. That is supported by Exod 20:11 where the very same week is the week that we are all familiar with. It is further supported by passages like Num 7 or 29 where the very same ideas and constructions are used to indicate actual days. Furthermore, the days in Gen 1 are defined as “evening and morning” something that only makes sense in talking about 24 hour days. “Evening and morning” has no meaning years or extended periods of time.

            You seem to overlook the fact that if the author wanted to communicate 24 hour days, this is the only way to do it. If he wanted to communicate longer periods of time, there are other ways that are always used to do that. This way is never used unless it is Gen 1, and that seems to be a case of special pleading.

            You are putting a lot of weight on the article, and yet those with Hebrew knowledge know that you can’t put that much weight on the article in these kinds of cases. It’s just not the way language works. I think you are trying to transport English back onto Hebrew.

            In the end, Mike, your comments here read like someone who has decided on a conclusion and is forcing the text to fit it regardless of what the text says. I would suggest that your exegetical methods here remove all possibility of finding meaning in any text. I think it’s weak method that is very limiting.

            1. Mike Tisdell says:

              “This is a bit ironic. You are claiming that Hos 6:2 is plural referring to two days, but at the same time claiming that the singular in Gen 1 can’t refer to one day”
              Actually I was pointing out that 2 Chr. 21 (not Hos 6:2) refers to two literal days but no translator has translated them as literal days. It is another place that demonstrates that day + a cardinal number can refer to something other than a literal 24 hour day.

              “You raised a bunch of question and claim that the text glosses over these issues. And yet you haven’t shown that to be the case, and in fact, it is very unlikely that there are any actual issues there that are glossed over.”
              Then why do you think that he NASB reads so much differently than the NIV? Again, like most versions, the NIV glosses over these issues with a highly interpretive translation and, like I said, the NASB brings most, but not all, of these issues to the table.

              “You ask, for instance, why Gen 2:4 speaks of one day of creation. Mike, that’s just a strange question. Why would you think it is only speaking of one day? That is a construct (“in the day of his creating”) and in the context it is clearly six days. “In the day” constructions are typically not (if ever) 24 hour days. That particular construction is almost always used to refer to periods of time in the OT. A simple search of the phrase can verify that right out of the box and remove any tension involved.”
              My belief is that all of these days can be potentially understood as longer than a 24 hour day. Your contention is that they cannot (except you want to make an exception here). And yes, this construction frequently is used to refer to a single 24 hour day; it is actually the rule more than the exception.
              Here are all the usages that in Genesis that refer to a literal 24 day.
              Ge. 5:1, 5:2, 15:18, 21:8, 33:16
              Ge. 7:11, 15:18, 22:4, 25:32, 30:35, 31:22, 34:25, 40:22, 42:18, 48:20
              In the book of Genesis the following are the only usages that MAY have a meaning other than a literal 24 hour day and many, including me, would tread some of these as a 24 hour day.
              Ge. 1:18, 2:2, 2:4, 2:17, 3:5, 30:33, 31:40, 33:35
              As you can see a real search of the text demonstrates the fallacy of your claim that ““In the day” constructions are typically not (if ever) 24 hour days.” That particular construction is used far less frequently to refer to a to refer to a ‘period of time’ than it is used to refer to a literal 24 hour day.
              “You discount by saying that the context of Gen 1 is unique. But that’s not something you got from Gen 1. The context of Gen 1 indicates a week of days. That is supported by Exod 20:11 where the very same week is the week that we are all familiar with. It is further supported by passages like Num 7 or 29 where the very same ideas and constructions are used to indicate actual days. Furthermore, the days in Gen 1 are defined as “evening and morning” something that only makes sense in talking about 24 hour days. “Evening and morning” has no meaning years or extended periods of time.”
              The style and grammar of Gen. 1 is unique. While there are other places in Scripture that deal with the topic of Creation, they do not use the same style or grammar. Trying to argue that because these other places speak of a literal week, then the text of Ge. 1 must also refer to a literal week is like arguing that because other places in Scripture speak of a man’s literal arm or hand that Duet. 5:15 must also be speaking of God’s literal arm and hand.
              “You seem to overlook the fact that if the author wanted to communicate 24 hour days, this is the only way to do it.”
              That is simply incorrect. Here are a few other ways that would communicate the idea of a 24 hour day much stronger.
              היום הראשון
              היום הראשון הזה
              היום הראשון ההוא
              More importantly, it is clear that the constructions used in Ge. 1 can be interpreted as other than a 24 hour day. It is an interpretive question about how they should be interpreted in this passage.
              “If he wanted to communicate longer periods of time, there are other ways that are always used to do that.”
              Always? That is an absolutely false statement!
              “This way is never used unless it is Gen 1, and that seems to be a case of special pleading. “
              I have already noted several other examples above, this is also a false statement.
              “You are putting a lot of weight on the article, and yet those with Hebrew knowledge know that you can’t put that much weight on the article in these kinds of cases. It’s just not the way language works. I think you are trying to transport English back onto Hebrew.”
              This is probably the funniest statement you have made. You have repeatedly demonstrated your gross lack of understanding of the Hebrew language and you want to tell me how the language works? While I disagree with Andrew Kulikovsky, he has at least demonstrated some understanding of the language in his responses. Your answers demonstrate a complete lack of even the most basic understanding of the Hebrew language. Even, first year Hebrew students would never have made the claim you made about how “in the day” is used in Hebrew because they would have already read enough examples that contradict your claim to understand the fallacy of that claim.

              1. LR says:

                One more response, Mike. It’s hard to respond because your comments are all over the place. It seems like you are totally unfamiliar with the literature on this topic. So much of what you are trying to argue has already been conclusively answered by Hasel (http://www.ldolphin.org/haseldays.html) and McCabe both in Coming to Grips with Genesis and at http://dbts.edu/journals/2005/McCabe.pdf. Not to mention others like Bruce Waltke who says they are 24 hour days. Hasel directly addresses your whole argument with the article and yet you appear totally unaware of that. How can you be so dogmatic yet so unaware?

                Regarding 2 Chron 21, no one says that YOM can never mean anything by 24 hour days. You can find all kinds of examples where it does. So that has no relevance here, though the plural form makes it different than what we are talking about anyway. Gen 1 are not plurals.

                Regarding translations and glossing over, you didn’t even address the point. The point is that you think the issues are glossed over, but you have yet to show they are actual issues as you suggest. You neglect the idea that language is not like math. Again, read the literature on the article in these cases.

                Regarding Gen 2:4 and beyom or bayom, you have indicated a few, many of which refer to part of a specific day, but not a whole 24 hour day, and you have ignored an awful lot of them. As you should know, if you know Hebrew as well as you claim, is that this is a different phrase than is used in Gen 1 and it has a different meaning in most cases. Again, a simple search can verify this. You talk about my Hebrew being weak, but you seem very unaware of some basic exegetical issues. YOM with a beth preposition prefixed to it occurs over 500 times in the OT. Your dataset doesn’t do that justice.

                You say that your “belief is that all of these days can be potentially understood as longer than a 24 hour day. Your contention is that they cannot (except you want to make an exception here).” Where do I want to make an exception? I have done no such thing. Gen 2:4 is different. It would be similar to comparing “I went to church today” to “in the day when our country was founded” or someone talking about “back in the day” meaning at some previous point in their lives. No one would think they are they are the same unless they had no understanding of idioms. They are clearly different. The beyom in 2:4 means something along the lines of “when.”

                You say As you can see a real search of the text demonstrates the fallacy of your claim that ““In the day” constructions are typically not (if ever) 24 hour days.” You listed a few verses from Genesis out of the more than 500 times that phrase is used in the OT. Do a real search of the text and then we can start comparing.

                You say that The style and grammar of Gen. 1 is unique. It’s not unique. It is standard historical narrative. The point of the other passages such as Num 7 and 29 is that they are almost identical uses of YOM in standard historical narrative.

                You say, More importantly, it is clear that the constructions used in Ge. 1 can be interpreted as other than a 24 hour day. How is that clear? I don’t recall you giving any evidence of the constructions in Gen 1 being used that way. And it can be used of a 24 hour day.

                You say there are other ways that a 24 hour day could be made clear and give some examples, but they don’t seem to be in the text anyway and you provided no references. What are the references where those are used? Or are they not used and you just made them up?

                You attack my knowledge of Hebrew, Hebrew scholars like Bruce Waltke agree with me on the grammar.

                You say my comments on “in the day” would have never been made by a first year Hebrew student. Yet that is simply untrue. I have been a first year Hebrew student, before I was a second year, third year, fourth year, and fifth year Hebrew student, and before I passed a Hebrew entrance exam into a PhD program. The phrase in question (YOM with a B prefix) is a particular Hebrew construction that has a meaning. You can look up all 500 uses of it and see that I was correct on that though I can’t remember if that is covered in first year or not.

                Mike, I think your response here is part of the problem in the discussion about these matters and it is one reason the discussion never gets very far. You immediately went on the attack, refused to discuss much about the actual evidence, and the turned personal. That won’t help further any discussion. Of course, I doubt you have any interest in a reasoned discussion about it, and that’s unfortunate.

        2. Mike Tisdell says:

          Zach 14:7 is יום אחד and Ge. 1:5 is יום אחד. In Hebrew this is the exact same phrase. Translations that have chosen to translate the first instance as “the first day” and “unique day” in the second have inserted their interpretation into the text. In Hebrew a first day would most naturally be expressed as יום ראשון and a unique day as יום ייחודי. These translations are highly interpretive and somewhat questionable and it is inexcusable that some lack a footnote explaining this.

          1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

            All translation (and interpretation) needs to take into account of the context. If you don’t then it is YOU who are adopting a literalistic hermeneutic!

            The instance in Zech 14:7 is literally “one day” but is routinely rendered as “a unique day” because of the context including the prior uses of yom in Zech 14. For example, v.4 has preposition be + article + yom = “on that day” making it clear a particular or “unique” day is in view.

            1. Mike Tisdell says:

              This example, and the one above are both examples were day + a cardinal do not equal their sum of literal 24 hours. The fact that some translations translate this phrase as a “unique day” here and “two years” in the other passage demonstrates that scholars undersand that context must be understood before the lenth of time can be determined. Your actually proving my point.

              1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Huh? In Zech 14:7, “one day” or “a unique day” both refer to a normal 24-hr day…
                Zech 14:7 states: “It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime–a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.” The day mentioned here is obviously the same day mentioned in vv. 1, 4 and 6. It should be abundantly clear from v. 4 that on “that day” the Lord will come. It describes a time-space EVENT in the future. How can the coming of the Lord take a long period of time? It is an event: at one moment on that day, He is not here – the next moment He has returned.

                And as s I said before, the rendering of 2 Chron 21:19 is contentious and there is no real grammatical reason to translate it as “years”. Translations tend to follow each other on such points so it is not surprising that they all agree.

              2. Mike Tisdell says:

                Zach 14:7 refers to a day when the cycle of days to nights stops, a day that is both summer and winter, a day that God rules all of the nations (i.e. the Millennial reign.). Your opinion that this “unique day” is a regular 24 hour day seems to be sacrificing a lot for the sake of holding on the idea that all days must be 24 hours. Most scholars, even those from Answers in Genesis, recognize that this day is not 24 hours.

                And while 2 Chron 21:19 may be “contentions,” it is not near so contentious as you imply. Every major version for the last 2000 years has translated this as two years, including the Vulgate 4th century, Luther 16th century, Geneva 16th century, KJV 17th century, Young’s LITERAL translation 19th century, Darby 19th Century, and in the 20th Century we have the NASB, ESV, JPS, ASV, NRSV, NLT, NIV, NASB, Reina Valera, etc… while you argue that this is contentions, those who have translated our scriptures into almost every language for nearly two thousand years have not considered this nearly as contentions as you have; they have been in complete agreement.

              3. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

                Mike, you said: “Zach 14:7 refers to a day when the cycle of days to nights stops, a day that is both summer and winter, a day that God rules all of the nations (i.e. the Millennial reign.)”

                No, Zech 14:6-7 says:
                “On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.”

                There is nothing here that would indicate anything other than a normal 24-hr day. The day is unique in the sense that there will be darkness and no cold/frost and light will not come until evening. It refers to the coming of the Lord to begin the millennial reign, not the millennial reign itself.

                I don’t know who at AiG thinks this is not a 24-hr day. First I’ve heard of it.

                Re 2 Chron 21:19, there is no inherent grammatical reason to translate yamim shenayim as “two years”. Nowhere else in the OT does yom + cardinal = x years. It is translated as two years here because translators believe the context demands it because Jehoram was told he would endure a long illness that would end with his bowels coming out. I don’t think this is justified or necessary.
                Note that v. 15 says: “You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.”
                Thus, my (literal) translation of this verse would be:
                “And it came about after a period of time, [at] the time of the coming out [of his bowels] at the end, for two days his bowels came out [because of his] disease, and then he died…”

              4. Mike Tisdell says:

                You hold a fringe minority position on both of these texts and the motivation for your interpretation appears to be only to protect your understanding of Ge. 1. Because nearly all scholars throughout the ages have opted for non-literal understandings for day in both of these examples without regard to their understanding of Gen. 1, I will agree with them.

  8. Ryan says:

    Thank you for the article. It’s always good to know where influential bloggers stand on key issues of biblical interpretation.

  9. Doug says:

    How could sabbath observance be enforced apart from the model of an actual “evening and morning”?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Note that “evening and morning” are absent from the “seventh day.”

      1. Scott C says:

        Perhaps because it wasn’t a day of creation that was in line of another successive day.

  10. Dylan says:

    How does your view on macro-evolution play into all of this? I’m not convinced on literal days, but I can’t see how macro-evolution is compatible with original sin through one man and death entering the world. In all my studies I’ve never seen a convincing argument on how these things can go together biblically.

    1. Philip G says:

      I too have never seen this issue addressed by anyone advocating the non-literal days approach.

      Is Adam a literal figure? Is the fall a historic event? The Bible seems to treat it as one. Paul sums it up best in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

      The Genesis 1 account finishes each creation event with “And God saw that it was good”. This culminates with the creation of man, and God presenting mankind with stewardship of the earth. 1 Genesis 1:31 states that “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

      If we accept that the earth is old, we must accept the fossil record which goes back billions of years. According to that record, man can only be at most a few million years old. This means that death and destruction was present for billions of years, with global cataclysmic events that led to mass extinctions (e.g. 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs died). And through it all, “God saw that it was good”. This has terrifying implications for God’s character!

    2. Andy says:

      Be careful of a slippery slope argument here. Just because the 24 days aren’t literal, doesn’t mean that everything we’ve ever learned about macro-evolution is true. I won’t speak for Justin, but as someone who also believes in the analogical view, I can say that, while I don’t believe in 6 “24 hour days” what I will say for sure is that man was a special creation of God’s, who were endowed with the image of God. Humans did not evolve from other species but were created special, by God himself, from the dust of the earth. He really fell and so sin entered the world. A good book on this by one holding to analogical creation is by C. John Collins.

  11. Jonathan says:

    I think John Walton’s approach is very helpful (The Lost World of Genesis One) and complements the points mentioned here. I appreciate his argument that the creation account deals with functional creation instead of material creation.

    1. Walton seems to be importing modern Western thought there. Westerners love to divide history and theology, and play one off against the other (it’s always the physical world that ends up losing – the theology is what “really” matters). But, this way of thinking is utterly alien to the Bible, which embraces physicality everywhere. The question “physical or functional” is not even an allowable one in Biblical categories; it’s always both. Evangelicals understood this pretty well when it comes to the resurrection, or even the Exodus – but somehow, this bad idea seems to get a free pass when it comes to creation.

  12. Tyler says:

    Justin,

    What are your thoughts on animal death before the Fall? I have largely ignored this issue for years (I didn’t, and to some degree still don’t, find it terribly important) and was intrigued by this argument from YEs.

  13. Josh Elsom says:

    The point at which my conversion to an Old Earth view began happened when someone said to me, “Young Earth Creationists, who champion a literal reading of the text, don’t take Genesis literally enough.”

    I’ve come to believe that this is the case. It was, at least, in my former understanding of the text.

    Interestingly, when you get really close to the text you find that young Earthers must bend the creation narrative toward their presuppositions so that it submits to their scientific observations; a charge, ironically enough, often leveled against those holding to an old view by young Earthers.

    The only point of difference I’d have with Justin in the article would be with his view of Gen 1:1; 2:3. I do believe that the two verses are summary statements. Gen 1:1 — this is what God did, let me tell you about what happened. Gen 2:3 — that’s what God did, what I told you is what happened. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then Gen 1:1 does not describe the creation activity of Day 1. It means the heavens and the earth were there when God began his work week and said, “Let there be light.”

    One word of caution here, please be gentle with how you deliver this exegesis. I was 39 yrs old and 39 years a young Earther when this was explained to me. It sent me into a tail spin for the better part of a year. Honestly, it was one of the most frightening seasons of my life.

    1. Josh Elsom says:

      *Gen 2:4 (not 2:3)

  14. While I’m not committed to the calendar-day interpretation, or a young earth, I don’t think this article makes any serious case for doubting either.

    I was going to interact with each of the arguments Justin makes, but my comment got really long, so I have posted it here instead:

    Biblical reasons to doubt Justin Taylor’s doubt about the creation days being 24-hour periods.

  15. Joe Fleener says:

    I don’t think I have ever commented on one of your posts and I am unlikely to again. However, I feel compelled to based on our opening quote.

    Justin, I would, at least place a footnote to your R. C. Sproul quote to the following:

    Sproul, R. C. Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub, 2006.

    Pg. 127,28

    “For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four hour periods…”

    Most of your other points have been addressed by others over the years, so I am not going to repeat those critiques here. However, I do think one ought to be careful when quoting well known figures from one period of their life when their view has changed.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks for the comment, Joe. The quote I gave from Dr. Sproul was actually made after the book you quote above: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/age-universe-and-genesis-1-reformed-approach-science-and-scripture/

      1. Scott C says:

        Sproul has gone back and forth between views.

      2. Joe Fleener says:

        Hi Justin,

        Thank you for the link… I now remember reading that myself a couple of years ago.

        However, a more compete quote would be, “When people ask me how old the earth is I tell them “I don’t know,” because I don’t. And I’ll tell you why I don’t. In the first place, the Bible does not give us a date of creation. Now it gives us hints and inclinations that would indicate in many cases a young earth.”

        Yet, this quote from Sproul seems to be completely irrelevant anyway. Your title deals with the length of “day” in Genesis 1 as does most of the article along with the conclusion. However, your introduction addresses the question of the age of the earth.

        You seem to be implying that those who hold to “day” in Genesis 1 being 24 hours also claim to know how old the earth is. Or, at least, you’ve introduced one subject just to switch to another for the rest of the article.

        As for a quote from Sproul that is related to the title of, content of, and conclusion of your article I would suggest the quote I gave above is more relevant. Though it would lead in the opposite direction of your article.

        Based upon Sproul’s published statements it is clear he would not agree with most of your article, but including a quote by him in the introduction seems to imply he would.

        I am no Sproul “fan boy”. I am concerned though when “names” are quoted as though they would agree with something when, in fact, it is unclear they would.

        Joe

  16. Justin,
    You seem to not allow actual usage to determine meaning but allow external and variant contexts to toss out others. I have written a significant work on the theological meaning and significance of yom in Genesis one, but the summation of the semantic range in Gen. 1 is here: https://rickwadholmjr.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/what-is-in-a-day-genesis-one/

  17. Dallas says:

    Now wouldn’t God already know that He would be creating man and the world man would be living on. Therefore, He makes time exist at one speed. His creation can move however fast He chooses but the world will still spin the same speed around the sun and on its own axis as it did in the beginning. His time is definitely different from ours. Its not our place to question what will be answered to us when we meet Him. The earth spins for our time the same time since the beginning no faster and no slower of a rotation or an orbit. The timing was designed for human existence.

  18. Mark says:

    Justin, why would the text specifically say, “morning and evening” if this was not meant to be a literal day? Also, the text specifically says that plants were given for food, not meat (Gen. 1:29-30), implying that there were no meat-eaters. Someday the lion will again lay down with the lamb – what a wonderful day that will be! I cringe when I see animal death now, don’t you? This is a large part of the “good” which God created originally that was lost in the fall. When God killed the first animal to make a covering for Adam and Eve it was the first death of nephesh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephesh). Adam then saw clearly the extent to which sin had corrupted everything – death was now a reality because of him. Incidentally, every time we eat meat we can remember the gospel – something had to die so that I can live. What a cause for thanksgiving! Finally, the overwhelming consensus of the church until Darwin believed in YEC. It has only been since then that other interpretations have become common. I find that disconcerting, personally.

    1. Mark says:

      Also, there are many fine websites that lift up the HUGE amount of scientific data that does indeed support a young earth. I encourage everyone to look into the evidence from that side of things as well. I have been impressed by it personally. There are many many top scientists in every area of science around the world who don’t see the evidence pointing to a young earth. (Creation.com, icr.org, answersingenesis.org, etc.)

      1. Mark says:

        Oops! I should have said, “That DO see the evidence pointing to a young earth”! I have my own typos to deal with, Justin. :)

  19. Mark says:

    Finally, on the first point 4, I think you mean to say, “macro-evolution”, not “micro-evolution”. And thank you for the interesting discussion. Blessings to you, my brother!

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks, Mark! I fixed the typo. Thanks for your interaction over the years on these important issues!

      1. Mark says:

        Justin, (or anyone else who can help), can you give me some reasons behind rejecting the plain reading of Gen. 1:29-30, as I wrote about above? Also, why would “morning and evening” be in the text in ch. 1 if these days are not to be taken literally? – Honest questions- I don’t understand it.

        1. Peter says:

          Mark–WRT your question on “morning and evening,” proper method would seem to warrant your first addressing the answer implied in Taylor’s article itself whether one considers it adequate or no.

  20. Alastair says:

    If 1:1 is a title/summary statement, doesn’t that actually suggest an older earth rather than a young one? I must be slow but I don’t see how 1:1 being a title supports the young earth view.

    1. Gary says:

      I didn’t follow this part of the argument either. YE interpreters would generally see 1:1 as reflecting the initial act of creation and then 1:2 reflecting the condition of the earth after this initial act. 1:3 would then give the next stages of creation. Viewing 1:1 as a title would seem to fit better with views other than YE. You would have a title in 1:1, the background circumstances prior to the initiation of creation in 1:2 (because of the waw disjunctive at the beginning of the verse), and then the first initial act of creating in 1:3. It seems as if some of the different views on the syntax of 1:1-3 are being merged together here. I also was not clear as to how verse 1 describes the creation of the “visible and invisible,” while verse 2 focuses on the “visible.”

  21. Wesley says:

    Thanks for your work here Justin. Some readers have mentioned Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis One” here – I am just beginning into that book. I would highly commend John Lennox’s book “Seven Days that Divide the World.” A real game-changer for me on this topic. Appreciate your charitable and thoughtful addressing of this topic,

  22. Daniel Chew says:

    I have answered and refuted Taylor’s arguments in my blog:

    http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2015/01/response-to-justin-taylor-on-24-hour.html
    http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2015/01/response-to-justin-taylor-on-24-hour_29.html

    In my opinion, it would be really helpful if you addresses the YEC counter-arguments, instead of giving the impression that we have not considered your arguments and have long since presented counter-arguments against what you are arguing for.

  23. The article opens with Sproul – Googling “Sproul creation” gives a link to the page in which he explains his reasons for abandoning his former position (which is akin to the one in this article), and embracing the church’s historic position on six day creation.

    The next section, about whether Scripture “directly” teaches six day creation is somewhat misleadingly framed, in my view. The same could be said about almost any substantial doctrine – the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, the nature of saving faith, etc. As framed, the article uses this as a way of implying that six-day creation is less certain than other doctrines which Christians accept as Biblical – without mentioning the fact that actually, the chain of logic is rather less complex than for many of doctrines that they accept as both Biblical and essential.

    I also think that two parts of the argument also contradict each other. Either Genesis 1 depicts God’s creation activity in terms of man’s working week, OR Genesis 1 does not explain what kind of days it is talking about. You can’t both argue that the sort of days involved are not identified, and then argue that they are identified as ordinary days, but that it’s just an analogy in which we’re not to take the details literally. One or other of those arguments has to go. (I’d say that plainly Gen 1 does identify the kind of days it’s talking about – there are six of them, numbered in sequence, followed by a Sabbath, with morning and evening, and they’re defined by the periods of the sun).

    The “seventh day does not end” argument is also illogical. It’s basic form is: the seventh day is a rest; God still rests; therefore therefore the seventh day still continues. This syllogism fails. I breathed on the first day of my life; I still breathe; it’s not still the first day of my life.

    Christ and Paul often referred to the early chapters of Genesis. Their hermeneutics in doing so are plain – they always deploy a historical reading. They see the details as descriptions that correspond to physical reality. That ought to be enough for us.

    1. Laurette says:

      “You can’t both argue that the sort of days involved are not identified, and then argue that they are identified as ordinary days, but that it’s just an analogy in which we’re not to take the details literally.”

      That’s not a correct analysis of the argument. The argument is that what is identified as 24-hour periods are not the days of creation, but the days of the human week. The 24-hour days of the human week are analogous to the days of creation.

      He didn’t simply say “it’s just an analogy” or “it’s metaphorical” as though that settled the matter and we’re left with complete mystery. Analogies and metaphors have content, in that they relate two (sets of) concepts to each other in a certain way. He shouldered the burden of showing what the analogy is between, and how it’s supposed to function (in this case, it relates the aspect of work present both in God’s creation and our vocations). It’s not about brushing the details aside by a vague reference to “analogy”, as you seem to imply.

  24. Colin McGie says:

    R.C.Sproul writes ,
    “For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four-hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Genesis 1-2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days.”
    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-rc-sprouls-position-creation/

    Exodus 20:11 seems quite clear on this subject. It seems like it takes hermeneutical gymnastics to make it mean something else,

    1. Tyler says:

      Colin,

      You are quoting an article written in Feb. 2011 while JT is quoting one from June 2012. Sometimes these views change quickly.

      1. Are you saying the 2012 comment is meant to modify the earlier one? I see no evidence, on the presentation thus far, of that. The Ligonier web page is currently published as his answer to the question – and, there’s nothing irreconcilable between Sproul affirming 6 day creation, and saying he “doesn’t know” the age of the earth – there are many possible ways to harmonise those two statements that still affirm a 6 day creation as the church has historically understood it. Do you have any evidence for the suggestion that he’s changed his mind?

      2. Colin says:

        Dr. Sproul’s comment as quoted by JT is referring to the age of the earth, not to whether the days are 24 hour periods. Two very different issues, From the same article I quoted above Dr. Sproul writes “Although the Bible clearly says that the world was created in six days, it gives no date for the beginning of that work. It would be a mistake to become embroiled in too much controversy about the date of creation.” By quoting the “I don’t know” answer from Dr. Sproul, the author gives the reader the impression that Dr. Sproul does not believe in six literal day creation, which is clearly not the case.

        One could take Dr. Sprouls’ response to the age of the earth question or Dr. MacArthur’s response by adding up the generations and dates given in Scripture. But both men clearly believe in a 6day/24hr creation week.

  25. Aaron Crim says:

    Thanks for the article Justin. This is a hard subject to address since there are so many brothers and sisters who feel so passionately in 24 hour days. I have always held to a belief in literal 24 hour creation days, certainly been influenced by the guys at Answers In Genesis and have never really been exposed to Biblical reasons to doubt the 24 hour creation view. This is most certainly the first time ive seen meaningful exegesis on the subject. I greatly enjoyed it, thank you for taking the time I found it really helpful.

  26. Bart Barber says:

    It matters, I think, whether I am writing to prove OEC damnably wrong or am just trying to explain why I am convinced by the YEC view. I’m doing the latter, not the former. So…

    1. I think the “evening” and “morning” thing deserves some consideration in this post. I know that language looms large in my mind as I ponder the question. Even in English, we use phrases like “day of reckoning” without meaning a 24-hour solar day, but when you start to clarify the components (dawn, noon, dusk, midnight) it becomes impossible to consider the usage to be a general, imprecise use of the word “day.” And the article seems to argue two different paths: “yom” is used in its imprecise sense in Genesis 1, or “yom” is used figuratively (the whole “God’s workday” thing at the end) in Genesis 1. I think “evening” and “morning” makes the former application highly unlikely.

    2. I never have understood why people have so much trouble with the creation of light before the creation of the sun. Even in Darwinian cosmologies, light exists before any of the stars exist. The Big Bang would’ve been an enormous light show before a single star had come into existence, as I understand the theory. Doesn’t the creation of the rudimentary particles of space and time, matter and energy, amount to the creation of light…er, electromagnetic radiation? The creation of the first photons amounts to “Let there be light,” does it not?

  27. Josh Elsom says:

    Justin, do you mean to say that the grammar of Genesis 1 does speak of six 24-hour days, but that those days are analogical and not actual? In other words, do you see the plain reading of the text (in ancient Hebrew minds) to be six 24-hour solar days, but we should understand those days, today, as merely setting forth a pattern for the Hebrew workweek and not as an actual measurement for how long God took to create the cosmos?

  28. Lori the Martian says:

    I am pretty sure that the hebrew word “yom” means any period of time and not only a day. Each yom can be referring to an age of earth.

  29. John says:

    Not that it matters much but may I say to ya that Vernon McGee believed in the gap theory.

  30. Chris Segrpves says:

    Many of these points were recently countered here https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/young-earth/reply-to-bruce-gordons-biblical-critique-of-young-earth-creationism/

    Justin, you should humbly go and study the arguments that YECs actually have before you make friends with he world here.

  31. Chris Schroeder says:

    I don’t think ‘Biblical reasons’ are being put forward but rather, as the (original) last line stated an ‘interpretation’. One that has been often & well refuted; e.g. Paulin Bedard – In Six Days God Created (www.amazon.com/Six-Days-God-Created/dp/1625092997).

    Not sure about the title saying ‘…Reasons to Doubt…’; that sounds a bit like ‘did God really say’, which is probably not what you want to convey. A day is a day, especially when the context is a week.

    And as you mention the PCA, related, the Westminster Divines took a natural, plain (perspicuous) reading of the 6 Days:

    “The Standards repeat the clear language of Scripture when they say that the universe was created “within the space of six days”.

    The duration of creation is invariably linked to God’s glory, long ‘ages’ = less glory to God; see further the article mentioned at:
    http://bylogos.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/westminster-standards-vs-theistic.html

    Further succinct statements on the 6 Days of Creation, including some historical background, can be found here:
    http://gpts.edu/resources/articles/creation.php

  32. Melody says:

    Oh Justin, I like your blog and maybe I’m not understanding what you’re trying to say, but these reasons all seem like a stretch.
    I don’t suppose it matters especially to me if God’s days were 24 hours or 48 or a year or 10, but why would they be?
    And if they weren’t, why would that be important to us? What would it change?

  33. It is interesting that the author leaves off the primary reason and distinctiveness of YEC – the flood of Genesis 6-9. Even if we grant that the author is 100% correct on Genesis 1, the real question is where he stands on Genesis 6-9. If it was a worldwide flood, then the YECs are right. If it was a local flood, the YECs are wrong. It is that simple. The only reason why anyone asks whether the earth is young or old is because of the fossils. If the fossils came from the worldwide flood, then the reason for believing in an old earth vanishes, or at least becomes a secondary, unevidenced hypothesis. Why would we believe in a world with old life if there was no evidence for it? If the flood is true, then all of the fossils that are evidence for an old earth are just misinterpreted – they are actually evidence for Noah’s flood.

    So, it is unfortunate that on such an important issue, that affects greatly one’s view of scripture, the most important chapters of the Bible were left out.

  34. Mike Tisdell says:

    Overall I appreciate this article. However, I would like to note one error. When biblical Hebrew authors interchange synonyms that are not entirely identical in meaning, they usually intended to focus on the shared meaning between them but too often western interpreters try to focus on the differences. In doing so, we are treating an ancient near eastern text like it was a modern western text. In this article this this was done when trying to draw a distinction between asah (made) and bara (created). The problem with this interpretation can be demonstrated when we look at Ge. 1:26-27 where these words are unquestionably used as synonyms. Ge. 1:26 says “and God said, we will make (asah) man …..” but Ge. 1:27 says “And God created (bara) the man…..”

  35. Justin’s basic position can be summed up as “the days of Genesis 1 function as an analogy – there’s no reason to understand them as historical”.

    The main, and major, problem with this, as argued by various contributors in IVP’s “Should Christians Embrace Evolution?” (I am one), is that it does not do sufficient justice to how the Scriptures view and present history.

    The Scriptural account of history is not an optional matter of indifference, or simply a theological story, that provides the backdrop to hard facts. (In Justin’s account, the “really” important bits are the meaning of the analogy – not any historical foundation that it may or may not rest upon). The Bible is quite consistent, in making theological realities, and historical events, depend upon each other in the strongest way. The most obvious and soteriologically important example is Christ’s resurrection; but there are many others. Some of them refer to Genesis. Paul draws inferences from such facts as Adam being created before Eve, from the dust of the ground, and from Eve being deceived rather than Adam.

    God has given us his authoritative history, to combat alternative, false, histories with – and it matters. Whilst modern Westerners try hard to convince themselves that they are the centre of the big story, the Bible views it differently. Creation matters, physicality matters, history matters – these are all bound up together. If you treat the Bible’s history as simply a depiction meant to reveal theological truths which then allow you to leave the history itself behind as simply a vehicle for something more important, then you’ve embraced one of the basis errors of Gnostic approaches to theology (though we thank God that evangelicals only tend to do that very inconsistently!).

    Best wishes,
    David

  36. Allen Mickle says:

    A good scholarly defense of literal, 24 hour days in creation can be found here: https://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/mccabe.pdf

    1. Seth Fuller says:

      Mccabe’s work on this is excellent. Good share.

  37. Tom Agnew says:

    Well you open yourself a can of worms there didn’t ya? I agree that interpreting the Creation account usually brings with it other unnecessary assumptions. Sailhammer’s work has garnered a lot of my attention on this matter. I am completely convinced of all aspects but I think he makes one of the more thoughtful and pure exegetical arguments I have read.

  38. Simon says:

    It would be interesting to know if Justin has ever taken the time to read YEC material (and interact with it in a meaningful way) given that all of the above arguments have long been refuted.

    For example, his argument concerning the seventh day. There is a reason “evening and morning” is not used on day seven. In the first six days there is a five-fold framework which is absent in Day Seven. This framework is used in Genesis 1:1–2:3 to shape each of the days:

    “God said . . .”
    “let there be . . .”
    Fulfillment: “there was”
    Evaluation: “God saw that it was good”
    And conclusion: “there was evening and morning”

    The evening and morning formula that has been used with the other days is no longer needed on Day Seven as it had a rhetorical function to mark the transition from the concluding day to the following day. The Creation Week is now complete and therefore it was not necessary to use the formula “evening and morning.” However, it is not only “evening and morning” that are missing from the seventh day, none of the other parts of this framework are used on the seventh day. The framework is used to represent accurately God’s work involved in His creative activity. The reason this framework is not used on the seventh day is to show that God had ceased creating. Therefore, the reason evening and morning are not used is related to the other parts of the framework.

    Furthermore, Hebrews 4 does not say the seventh day is unending. Hebrews 4:3 is referring to the spiritual rest that all believers enter. Hebrews 4 quotes Genesis 2:2 and Psalm 95:7–11, and it is used by the author as an argument to warn of the danger of unbelief. Furthermore, if the seventh day is unending then this surely raises some theological problems of God cursing the earth while at the same time blessing and sanctifying it.

    Even scholars who reject the literal 24-hour approach recognize that “the original Israelite audience would have understood the word “day” in the context of Genesis 1 to have been twenty-four-hour days (John Walton. The NIV application commentary Genesis, p. 154).

    Justin’s other objections are answered here: https://answersingenesis.org/reviews/books/review-of-seven-days-that-divide-the-world-john-lennox/
    https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/old-earth/influential-pastors-and-theologians-on-the-days-of-creation-and-the-age-of-the-earth/

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      In terms of exegetical books on a YEC interpretation, the main full-length treatment I worked through was Doug Kelly’s, which I respect and appreciate.

      1. Simon says:

        Justin, while I also appreciate Kelly’s book, may I suggest you take a look at a book that is slighty more recent, and which interacts with your objections, such as: Coming to grips with Genesis: Biblical authority and the age of the earth, ed. T. Mortenson and T. H. Ury.

        1. Justin Taylor says:

          Thanks!

        2. Scott C says:

          Yes, this is an excellent work!

  39. Peter Jones says:

    The use of Hosea 6:2 to support days being long periods of time is weak. The word “yom” is used well over 300 times in the Pentateuch. How is it used in writings by the same author is the first way to determine a meaning of a word. Jumping to a different author, in a different time, using a different genre is misleading. On this point the YEC are correct. Yom with a numeral never means anything other than a literal 24 hour day from Genesis 3-Deuteronomy 34. In most cases, even when the numeral is not used it means a 24 hour day or part of 24 hour day. So “yom” is not a flexible word in the Pentateuch that can mean a 24 hour day or a really long period of time. http://morgantownpastor.blogspot.com/2014/05/no-quarter-given.html

  40. Adam Borsay says:

    What all the “dissenters” are missing in their responses to JT is that he in no way is making an argument for a “slam dunk” case for an Old Earth. His point is there are reasonable alternative, and Biblically defensible positions, that differ from the strict YEC interpretation. This illustrates that YEC cannot possibly be a litmus test for “True Christians”. It is not necessary for him to write a big response to material produced by places like AIG, because the point is NOT to produce an unassailable conclusion, but to instead broaden the scope of our understanding of the possibilities of different understandings that still maintain Biblical Fidelity.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Well said, Adam. Thank you. For many, these questions cannot even be raised for consideration, which I don’t think fosters a climate for charity or clarity.

    2. Philip G says:

      I’m personally not dogmatic about YEC. In fact I was dragged screaming and kicking to the YEC interpretation because it became evident that I could not reconcile OEC with original sin, and Christ’s redeeming death. From the title, I was hoping for an article reconciling the fossil record that’s billions of years old, full of death, decay, disease with the Genesis account where God declares each step of creation as “good”.

      This in my experience has been what sways Christians to a YEC interpretation, rather than word games about whether “yom” is a 24 hour day, etc.

    3. Elliot Nour says:

      Exactly! The first step in the discussion is helping those who are YEC see that there are other possible understandings of the text is not so demanding of a young earth as they often make it out to be, nor is it the litmus test for orthodoxy. Thanks Justin for putting this article out there as a way to present a clear, exegetical reason why Christ-loving, Bible-committed Christians come to differing conclusions on the opening chapters of Genesis.

  41. Josue Rodriguez says:

    Not sure how arguing for the days of Creation to not be 24-hour days solves the problem of the age of the Earth. Even if they were long periods of time, and thus accommodating the secular point of view of millions of years, you will still have to deal with the fact that there would have been death and suffering before Adam sinned. This article instead of doing proper exegesis of the Bible, it commits the error of eisegesis. You are bringing your presuppositions to the text.

    1. RobH says:

      Josue,
      You, like many YEC, are making 2 assumptions that are so ingrained in our thinking that they are overlooked by everyone, from both sides. First, that death and pain are evil, second that we are the authority on what God meant by His good creation. Pain is necessary for survival in our entropic existence, think about lepers and what happens to your body when it doesn’t warn you of danger. We literally chew our tongues off. Another emotionally driven misunderstanding is regarding animal death. When a lion eats a baby water buffalo, our hearts break for the valiant mother who tries to defend her young. Her horror is a tangible thing to us. Thankfully, this is nothing more than our anthropomorphizing the mother, projecting our own sorrows, longing for the lost future of a life with her young. In reality, it’s nothing more than the survival instinct that God placed in all his creatures. As an exercise, try projecting humanity on carnivores that often eat their young.
      So now, we know that the only thing left of animal death that is ‘not good’ would be the physical pain. But wait, if pain is NOT good, how can it be a part of God’s very good creation? It can’t, unless as pointed out earlier it actually falls under God’s all knowingly wise creation. This simply must be the case, as pain was a very real thing before the fall. As part of Eve’s curse, our Almighty God told her that he would “greatly increase her pain in childbirth.” Not cause it to hurt in the first place, but make it HURT MORE. Pre-fall suffering is undisputed fact. The death referred to is the spiritual death if man (another logic trap for YEC, when the Lord told Adam that ‘on the day he ate the fruit she would surely die’, He was either lying, or one or both the words ‘day’ and ‘die’ were not what YEC refer to as ‘plain readings’).

  42. Cody Libolt says:

    Hey Justin, I appreciate your work here. I haven’t been swayed by your case. I have a question: why in particular does this area discussion matter to you? Do you present this discussion merely as a way of showing that one particular kind of argument for young earth creationism is weak and should not be used? Or are you also advancing an alternate view? I am curious to know what you believe about evolution and the timeline. Or more generally, I’m curious to know what you believe is possible to have a well-formed opinion about, and what matters are better left as “I don’t know.”

  43. Gabriel Powell says:

    It’s disappointing to see Justin make use of some of the finer details of the text to make his case, and ignore others that contradict his case. Furthermore, it is not as though the rest of Scripture has nothing to say. Justin should know that when a passage containts internal difficulties, we can and must look to the rest of what the Holy Spirit wrote for clarity. On this truth, the Holy Spirit is consistent through many writers of Scripture to teach a real creation in a one-week span. Consider that Jesus declared that Adam and Eve were created “in the beginning” and not billions of years later, much closer to His day than the actual beginning.

    Also, within this article I hear hints of John Walton’s theory of functional language. His theory brings some good things to the discussion, but it is insufficient as he too ignores critical details and the rest of Scripture.

    In short, this article sound like Justin is trying to come across as a nuanced thinker, while ignoring major nuances and ignoring the careful exegetical analyses of Hebrew scholars who have soundly refuted Justin’s points.

    1. Adam Borsay says:

      To be slightly facetious……are you saying Jesus is a liar?? Because the Bible clearly states in Genesis 1:1 that IN THE BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth. It does not say, in the beginning God created Adam and Eve. Unless you are going to use some appropriate interpretation and assume that Jesus was referring to ongoing creative work that God was undergoing through a ongoing process that starts with the first “day” and concludes in the sixth “day”. Which, if you are willing to assume that Jesus wasn’t a liar, but instead accurately describing the entirety of the process of creation “in the beginning”, means that a creative process that is not necessarily limited to six 24 hour days.

      1. Gabriel Powell says:

        Hi Adam, Jesus said that Adam and Eve were created “FROM the beginning.” In other words, humanity was created in the time frame of the beginning. If OEC is correct, then humanity was created nowhere near the beginning. That’s my point.

        1. Adam Borsay says:

          That is a narrow understanding of the context though. OEC would argue that the entire process of creation….regardless of length….would be defined as the “beginning”. It is book ended by the conclusion of the creative work of God at the end of the sixth day. You are imposing a non-negotiable reading of six 24 hour days as the only way to read the “beginning”. Yet we don’t limit our thinking in similar ways. For instance, we could rightfully interpret the “beginning” of America in a myriad of ways that cover a wide variety of years. From Columbus’s discovery, to the Declaration of Independance, to the Revolutionary War, to even the war of 1812. And you can slide back and forth the “start” and the “finalization” of the “beginning” in countless ways without straying from an apt description of “the beginning”.

          1. Gabriel Powell says:

            I can see what you’re saying, but here’s where I would find fault with that. I really don’t think the “beginning of America” has as much elasticity as you claim. But even if it did, and it went all the way up to 1812, you’re more or less cutting American history in half. Whereas in OEC, you’re saying that well over 99% of natural history is “the beginning.” I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

            1. John Z says:

              You guys are trying too hard. Why would we assume that Jesus is referring to anything else but the “beginning of humanity” when he says “beginning”. No need to make the whole 4.5 billiion years of Earth history before Adam and Eve to be part of the “beginning.”

              1. James says:

                The word used in Mark 10:6 is ‘ktiseōs’ or ‘of creation’, not ‘anthrṓpinos’ or ‘of human-kind’. God is quite specific and He also notes in Romans 1:20 ‘since the creation of the world’ and Luke 11:50 where the blood of the prophets is said to have been shed from ‘the foundation of the cosmos’.

            2. Thursday says:

              Isn’t your claim that it’s cutting American history in “half” pretty just comparing one arbitrary beginning to another?

      2. Gabriel Powell says:

        In other words, it seems to me that the OEC interpretation is actually what makes Jesus a liar (or just wrong). Aside from the exegetical arguments from Genesis 1, there is no other portion of Scripture which even comes close to implying that Genesis 1 was a long period of time and not six “normal” says. On the contrary, every time Scripture refers to creation, it always assumes and expresses that it was a short period of time.

  44. Casey says:

    Thanks, Justin! I agree with the overall thrust of your article but take excpetion to two points. First in point 1, the translation and interpretation of this verse is highly contested. Here are five of the options:

    1. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth…
    2. When God began to create the heavens and the earth…
    3. In the beginning God created the heavens and earth…(as title)
    4. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…(as first creative act preceding day one)
    5. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…(as first creative act of day one)

    You choose option #4 but strong cases could be made for all of them. Two reason to see it as a title/heading is 1) the probable inclusio with 2:1 which seems to indicate the creation of heavens and earth is now finished, and 2) the fact that the heavens aren’t actually created until 1:6-8.

    The other is a minor quibble of interpretation regarding 2:5-6 (your point 5). There is another inclusio here regarding plants of the field and man working the ground. Notice that neither of these things happen until the Fall (3:18 and 3:23) – so that 2:5-6 are not so much alerting us to problems as they are saying, “in the original creation, before man was working the ground to eat plants of the field like we do now, God put man in a Garden that provided food via fruit trees. We have to work the ground now and eat these plants of the field because of their sin.”. Or something like that. :)

  45. Andrew Yocum says:

    I just wanted to thank you for a clear and concise article about the days of Genesis. Keep up the good work!

  46. Clay Jacobson says:

    I would highly recommend John Sailhamer’s work Genesis Unbound to be considered in this discussion. He would agree with many points that Mr. Taylor has made, but also has some nuances to be considered in the conversion between inerrantists: http://amzn.com/1935651218

  47. Gabriel Powell says:

    I’m not interested in having an online debate, but one question I would encourage Old Earth Creationists to consider is this:

    Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning…” (Matthew 19:4). If OEC is correct, that means that Adam and Eve were created billions of years after “the beginning”. On a relative scale that means they were created very near to the time of Christ and very far from the beginning. Do not Jesus’ words imply that Adam and Eve were created “from the beginning” and not “far from the beginning”?

    Just throwing out the question for your consideration.

    1. John Z says:

      It’s still the beginning of humankind–which seems to be the only relevant beginning that Jesus would be referring to. It amazes me that we allow for carefully thinking through the nuances of language in most other places in Scripture but as soon as this issue comes up we have to be as woodenly literal as possible.

      1. Gabriel Powell says:

        Well, except for the parallel passage in Mark 10:6 which explicitly says, “from the beginning of creation.” All of Scripture consistently portrays Genesis 1-2 as a very short period of time, and there is no Scripture that indicates otherwise. As I said in another comment, OEC would force us to believe that the apex and ultimate purpose of God’s creation, humanity, occupies less than 1% of the history of the natural world. That’s really hard to swallow.

        1. John Z says:

          All of Scripture consistently portrays Genesis 1-2 as a very short period of time, and there is no Scripture that indicates otherwise.

          This is the very point at issue in this article. It won’t do to simply assert it as you are doing here.

          As I said in another comment, OEC would force us to believe that the apex and ultimate purpose of God’s creation, humanity, occupies less than 1% of the history of the natural world. That’s really hard to swallow.

          I have no idea why this is relevant. I’m pretty sure it’s not, for the following reasons:

          1) Billions of years to us are nothing to God, of course. 6 days or 13 billion years, it’s all the same to him. Time is something he created as a part of the universe and he (I think we all agree here) is not subject to it.

          2) As an astrophysicist, I can tell you that looking back across the history of the universe (due to the finite speed of light we see far away things as they were longer ago) inspires my reverence for God, seeing the painstaking care and detailed craftsmanship he employed. God does not have to spend any time at all–he could have just done it all in an instant. For reasons unknown to us, he chose to spend time. It might be because we can relate to this–works of art or intricate machines take lots of time and energy to build. Again, God did not have to do so, but in the OEC view he did.

          The above is not a Scriptural argument, but your concern about the long age of the universe versus that of humanity in the OEC view isn’t from Scripture either. On what basis do we assign a value to humankind based on how long they have been around compared to the universe’s age? This is a value judgment that comes from philosophy perhaps, but not Scripture.

          1. Gabriel Powell says:

            Hi John, I appreciate the feedback.

            The above is not a Scriptural argument

            I agree, and didn’t claim that it was. However the Bible very clearly describes the history of the universe from start to finish and has humanity involved from start to finish. Genesis to Revelation includes the entirety of natural history, and it is very odd to say that well over 99% of natural history is contained in Genesis 1:1, and less than 1% of natural history is contained in Genesis 1:2 through Revelation. Again, that’s not an exegetical argument, but I think it is worth pondering.

            This is the very point at issue in this article.

            Actually, it’s not. This article makes arguments from Genesis 1:1-2:4 and ignores the rest of Scripture (and contradictory detail of Genesis 1:1-2:4). For example, Justin makes a big deal about yom with a numeral, but ignores “morning and evening” which are definitive contextual details. He also makes massive importance of the verb tense in Genesis 1:1, but ignores the linguistic details of Hosea to make his point. There’s simply a lot of picking and choosing in this article.

        2. Jonathan says:

          Just a thought. Jesus must have been using the phrase ‘from the beginning’ in a wide sense since man was not made at the beginning (strictly speaking). He was made 5 days after the beginning. My point is that Jesus used the word ‘beginning’ to reference a period of time, even if it was only a 7 day period. So it seems to me that both YOung and old earth proponents view Jesus statement as referencing a period of time. The difference? One says its a 7 day period of time and the other a much, much longer period of time.

          1. James says:

            An interesting thought for sure. However, its utterly meaningless because for OEC ‘the beginning’ or ‘foundation’ period is supposed to be more than 99.999% of total cosmic history, whereas for the YEC seven days is approx 0.000003% of total cosmic history. Therefore the difference is really this – the OEC scores 10/10 for pernicious hermeneutical gymnastics whereas the YEC has the consistent biblical hermeneutic.

  48. Ishwaran Mudliar says:

    I am very disappointed. Your post has many errors of fact, logic, and interpretation, both Biblical and historical.

  49. John Z says:

    Justin, thanks for this very useful article, which summarizes a wide variety of helpful information in one place. Definitely bookmarking this one.

    I feel like the air definitely needs to be cleared on something. I speak here as a scientist, specifically an astrophysicist, and an advocate of the old-earth position. There is really no way from the scientific record to separate animal death before sin and long ages. It’s just not possible.

    I know you are not addressing scientific questions, and you are also not addressing the questions of death before the Fall or hominids. But an old earth position inexorably raises these issues, because they come hand-in-hand with it. You’re not at fault for not addressing these issues in this sort post, but I think we have to be clear about what we’re dealing with here.

    In my view, others (such as the folks at Reasons To Believe, John Collins, etc.) have addressed these points adequately. I don’t always agree with all of their solutions, but what they’ve done is the same thing you’re doing here–pointing the way forward to discussing these issues in a solidly biblical way without being shackled to the YEC perspective Anyone who argues at this point that not wanting to be shackled by YEC is tantamount to not wanting to be faithful to the text of Scripture is missing the argument entirely, and frankly arguing in a circle.

    The more I understand Genesis, the more I understand that the YEC position ignores many things in the text itself. As a result of making denying it tantamount to destroying the foundations of the Gospel message, we make a non-essential issue a divisive one and raise yet another stumbling block to belief in the Gospel. The Gospel itself is the stumbling block for many–why we continue to erect more is beyond me.

    1. James says:

      Why? The Gospel in a nutshell from 1 Cor. 15: ‘…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures’. If you are right, this actually means that a naked ape with higher brain function, who claimed to be a god which created the world through millions of years of pain and suffering and death, that this ape died (perhaps just spiritually – we can’t be sure) for our ‘sins’ (which are explained away through evolutionary psychology); that he was buried, and rose again the third day (which could be an indeterminate period of time like in Genesis 1 – so he may still be in the tomb). The character of God is clearly at stake – He who is called the ‘good shepherd’ does not destroy countless sheep (organisms) before the Fall!

  50. Nathan B says:

    Even if the standardizing earth/moon/sun time were not consistent across across the 6 days, the Scriptures provide us with no alternative narrative.

    Clearly, the dogmatic narrative of scientism’s cosmology is antithetical the narrative that the God has written for us. And for those who regard the scriptures as authoritative, deviation from the 6 days is not exploring out on the skinny branches, it is jumping out on hypothetical branches that scientism believes to be the foundation of their dogma.

    And honestly, It is hard to reconcile these competing cosmologies with plants existing prior to sunshine, as 3 is prior to 4. (Which you thankfully didn’t attempt)

    You say that “the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth.” but it absolutely does, just not in comprehensive details down to 6 significant figures. There is a genealogy, with years mentioned not vague “ages.” Adam was 930 years old, not 34,000 age periods.

    Your argument is like: Did Jesus really walk on the water or did he ride a giraffe? We don’t really know for sure, the Bible nowhere directly teaches what supported Jesus’ weight.

    The Scriptures provides us with no competing creation narrative to the young earth, 6 day morning and evening narrative, and it is not a creatures job to write one.

    Thanks for all your work and for a lively discussion,

    Nathan B.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      I didn’t include discussion of the genealogies, but I think this is a helpful intro: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/article/debatable-genesis-genealogies-and-the-age-of-the-earth

      1. Karl Carleson says:

        Hi Justin – I can see that there can be arguments made that there might be gaps in the pre-flood genealogies from that link. But how long are those gaps? I believe, at most, they are 3-4 generations. For 2 reasons: 1. That seems to be consistent with the gaps in genealogy from other genealogies in the Bible that that article references. 2.The purpose of genealogies is to trace the lineage of a person or people. But if the gap between subsequent persons in a genealogy is too big, then we can’t reliably trace the lineage. If the gap between a 2 people is, say, 20 generations, no one can validate that claim and the entire purpose of the genealogy breaks down.

        So, if the gaps in the antediluvian genealogies are 4 generations, that would place Adam and Eve to be about tens of thousands of years ago, certainly not millions and billions.

        1. Mike Tisdell says:

          Karl, what about Mt. 1:1 “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Seems like more that 3 or 4 generations are missing here.

    2. Colin says:

      This is a great counterpoint, hopefully Justin considers this.

  51. James McGovern says:

    Hey Justin, is Miles Van Pelt’s comment from a sermon or a book? If you could direct me towards source of that citation that would be great.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Forthcoming chapter, not yet published

  52. Colin says:

    This is incredibly sad to see. Try reading arguments for literal days from ICR and AIG.

  53. Roger K says:

    As i was reading this, something kept coming to mind, “Did God really say….”

  54. Jon Price says:

    I’m glad to see that for the most part this has been a respectful discussion. We need to be careful, no matter how convinced we are of our position concerning how God created, to hold our position with humility. If we consider God’s words in Job 38 (and 39), we should be humbled to realize that we are not qualified to make definitive statements of God’s creative work.

    1. Jon Price says:

      Other than the definitive statement that God created all things out of nothing by the power of His Word.

  55. One thing not mentioned is that one can both affirm an old earth and that the six days are literal. Both John Walton and John Sailhamer adopt this view. And they do so based on exegesis.

  56. Dean Davis says:

    Justin, I can’t begin to express my disappointment in this article. For decades, biblical creationists have addressed every single one of the arguments you have put forth, yet you seem not to have interacted with them at all.

    Have you read Jonathan Sarfati’s, Refuting Compromise? Have you read John Byl’s God and Cosmos, or visited his website, where he interacts with writers in the Reformed tradition who are defecting from their own creeds (http://bylogos.blogspot.com). If not, you are simply not ready to go public with your reasonings about the age of creation.

    In an article I wrote some years back, I argued that for at least three big reasons recent creation is an important doctrine of the faith:

    1) It preserves the perspicuity of Scripture, for, as any child, untouched by worldly theories of cosmic evolution will tell you, the Bible CLEARLY teaches recent six day creation.

    2) It preserves the glory of God, since recent creation exalts, among other things, his mighty power, wisdom, and goodness, since, in the short space of six literal days (Exodus 20:11), he prepared a beautiful, flawless home for the family of man.

    3) Most importantly, it preserves the infrastructure of biblical cosmology and redemption, since it is part and parcel with the crucial divine revelation that the sin of first Adam wrecked the entire universe, while the righteousness of the Last Adam restores it for his elect.

    http://www.clr4u.org/writings/essays/recent-creation-case-for.html

    So then, I urge you, dear brother, to spend as much time marinating yourself in the writings of wise, studious, biblical creationists (especially those like Byl, in the Reformed tradition) as you have in those who (I am sorry to say) are caving in, not to the teaching of Scripture, but to the pressures of the world around them.

    Prayerfully,
    Dean

  57. Lance Higginbotham says:

    Justin, this is a well-done piece, and I especially liked your treatment of inerrancy. But I think you’ve overly simplified the way people view 1:1 in point 1 above. There are people who don’t take the 24 hour view that see 1:1 as a title or summary, and 24 hour view proponents that don’t. See the essays by Averbeck and Beall in “Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation.” Furthermore, I’m not sure that it’s true that if 1:1 is a summary or title, the passage doesn’t teach creation ex nihilo. It may be that that’s the significance of bara (not asah) in 1:1, and as a summary it gives a framework for understanding the creative acts that follow as God’s creation from nothing.

  58. Robert Berman says:

    Just dealing briefly with one thing: Point 1 says, ‘In Genesis 1:1, “created” is in the perfect tense, and when a perfect verb is used at the beginning of a unit in Hebrew narrative, it usually functions to describe an event that precedes the main storyline (see Gen. 16:1, 22:1, 24:1 for comparison).’

    Here are the three texts cited, all in ESV:

    Genesis 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.

    Genesis 22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

    Genesis 24:1 Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.

    The passages in Genesis 16 and 24 do seem to contain background information describing the situation up to (i.e. prior to) the narrative which they begin. However, Genesis 22 appears to be begin with a summary of the story about to unfold, concerning how God tested Abraham with the sacrifice of Isaac, rather than background of prior events.

  59. Timothy Cox says:

    Hi Mr. Taylor,

    Whereas your premise may have grains of truth (and, I would add the “young earth” vs. “old earth” debate is not the best doctrinal hill on which to die), your supporting reasons are fallacious and contradictory to the text. Augustine did not rule out a literal day interpretation but, as you originally observed, simply stated it was very difficult to determine. Your other quotes from theologians are less than convincing. The plain and straightforward reading of Genesis, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first, second…day,” coupled with Exodus 20:11 and the full chapter of Hebrews 4 (see “Today, if you hear his voice…” which quotes directly from and further supports the “day” argument from Psalm 95)–all these point strongly to a literal day understanding. If dividing a literal day into 24 equal time periods makes you doubtful, your beef is with the Egyptians and not with the text of Scripture. I also do not know exactly how old the earth is, but I do believe the Bible gives specific and inerrant data regarding this very question.

    Peacefully in Christ,
    Tim

  60. Thomas Crane says:

    I do not claim to know the age of the Earth, but Moses’ or God’s use of the six days in Exodus 20:11, persuades me that the six days were six 24 hour days.

  61. anaquaduck says:

    I find the argument absurd, particularly since many things are not directly given in Scripture yet we can formulate strong positions. For me this really is two worlds. One is myth, one is not, one aligns itself with an evolutionary narrative, the other biblical.

    Scientifically there are many argumets that support a young earth which is in harmony with Genesis 1,2 & 3 through to Revelation. Jesus was an instant kind of guy when it came to the miraculous & as He is making all things new I am counting on Him doing that in the same context & not requiring 10 billion or a revised 4.5 Billion or so years to do it. In theory it should take less seeing there will be no sun or sea:).

  62. Kyle says:

    Or… you can find all the other contradictions in the bible and finally come to the realization that it was man’s early attempt at explaining things. The same as Greek, Roman, Muslim, and all other religions. Simply put, creation myths are the first of many hypothesis to explain things.

    Also, If god is all powerful and can do anything, then why is he limited by days? Whether they be 24 hours or what you call “Divine Days.” Why did it take him 6 days to create, and why must he rest? He can do anything he wants so why couldn’t he just all the sudden get reenergized?

    1. anaquaduck says:

      God is into good things, He defines, teaches & leads by example. He also intended for His creation to rest, land, animals & people included, for enjoyment also.

      Modern man has his creation myths also, full of contradiction. Many an ancient thing still bewilders the modern person. Creation truth stands alone in comparison to surrounding myths & interpretations.

      God gives ample reason as to why He does things the way He does, often for our benefit & not His even if we tend to assume we must no better in our limited capacity.

  63. Chris Segrpves says:

    Next thing you know TGC will start letting people post on why we should believe in the “historical Jesus”.

  64. I appreciate this piece Justin…this subject definitely stirs the pot like eschatology; although, I think this area has more at stake. There are some intriguing arguments made by the Old Earth camp. My ears are open; however, the linchpin in this subject has to do with death’s entrance into human existence. I find this point to be irreconcilable with the Old Earth view.

  65. LR says:

    Justin, I wonder why you haven’t added Coming to Grips with Genesis to your list of books at the end of the article. It would be a good one for people to be aware of, even if they disagree. I would encourage you to add it there as a resource on this topic.

  66. HZD says:

    To me it is extremely obvious that the seven days should not be taken literally. There are multiple contradictory creation stories in the Bible if we read them as literal accounts. I would suggest the fact that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are set right next to each other in their present context is perfectly clear evidence that the original compiler had no intention of a conflated reading. Genesis 1 begins with the world (which already exists, but that’s another topic) covered in the waters of the deep. Then God’s creation creates habitable space out of it by separating it out. This is somewhat analogous to the flood plains of Mesopotamia, where the waters recede and new life begins after the flood season. In 2.5ff, the picture is entirely different. The world begins as a dry barren wasteland, and God starts a flow of water to cover the ground. This is much more like the situation in Israel, where the land is dry and barren until a spring is discovered or a well is dug. In either case, the creation narratives have different purposes and emphasize different things. They conceive of the world completely differently, but since they aren’t intended to be read as literal accounts of ordinary factual sequential historical events, there is no contradiction, and they are entirely true, just not in the way that rigid modernists want to be able to read and declare something as true. And then we add to that creation accounts in the Psalms, Job, and Isaiah where God slays the monsters Rahab and Behemoth, and in Revelation where he defeats Yam, it’s seems very apparent that the Bible is working out truth through a number of mythological cosmologies and cosmogenies. I realize that’s not a popular way of looking at the Bible in evangelical circles, but I can’t see it any other way.

    1. James says:

      Of course you can’t see it any other way. That’s what the Holy Bible tells me about unregenerate folk. You must be born again!

  67. Karl Carleson says:

    Justin – 2 issues I have off the top of my head:

    1. How do you reconcile Mark 10:6-8 with an old earth creation, where Jesus specifically says that God created Adam and Eve at the the beginning of the entire creation?

    2. Your point #3 about the 7th day not being 24 hours long because other parts of Scripture says that God’s rest remains, therefore the 7th day is still on-going, meaning that it’s not a literal 24 hour day. We agree that Psalm 95 and Hebrews 4 is using Sabbath rest as an analogy for the rest we have in Christ. Why does it follow that if parts of the Bible uses that event as an analogy, then that event did not literally (not analogously) happen?
    By your logic, because Paul uses the story of Sarah and Hagar allegorically in Galatians 4, that means Hagar and Sarah didn’t literally exist since it’s meant to be an analogy. Or Jonah wasn’t really swallowed by a giant fish because Jesus used it as an analogy to His death and resurrection.

    Thanks!

    1. Ryan Spencer says:

      Karl,

      Point #2 in your reply is spot on. I don’t understand how that even made itself into an argument.

      Justin,

      I didn’t take the time to read every comment before mine, so forgive me if someone has brought this up, but I have a couple of considerations as well.

      1) Genesis 1:1 as a title as opposed to an actual creation event. Why can’t it act as both. We see Genesis 1 give us a very short paragraph about the creation of man and then Genesis two turns around and gives us a fuller detail of what just happened in Gen 1 on day 6 of creation. That doesn’t mean that the two events are distinct in any way. I think Gen 1:1 functions similarly. It could be viewed as the event of creation that is the event that precedes the entire book of Genesis, the Torah, and presently, the entire Canon. I don’t think just because this event is then immediately expounded in fuller detail ( as we see happening in Genesis 2 with the creation of man) that this means that these two events must be referring to separate things (i.e. creation and “formation”). In other words, the point about the future tense of the Hebrew verb is a great point, when viewed from the canonical horizon, but I don’t think it is fair to be read only in the context of Gen 1.

      2) Just from the text, I wonder if Gen 2:4 could be read differently. This may be a stretch in the Hebrew, I will claim ignorance, but in the English, just by altering punctuation, it could be read much differently:

      ” These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
      [Now he goes into further detail about the ‘day’ when man was made. (i.e. Day 6 of creation)]
      In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,5 when no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—7 then the Lord God formed the man…”

      This reading is so much more natural to me. I actually read these two chapters this morning in my devotions and read it this way naturally 10 hrs before I read this blog post.

  68. Riley Nicholson says:

    I honestly think that that is a whole lot of work to put into interpreting the scriptures in a different way because people are uncomfortable with it. This is pointless and futile, because any interpretation of scripture that retains its meaning is offensive to everyone living in sin, which includes christians who are saved but not been taken to the Lord yet. There is no reason NOT to interpret the Genesis account as referring to literal 24-hr days. The whole book is devoted to a God that could part waters, come back to life, and turn people into pillars of salt. Contrary to what many people argue, the Genesis account is FOUNDATIONAL to all of christianity. God even rebukes people such as Job who question him and tells him how he has power over all. I read through these arguments and I think that they are poor at best. Playing around with this type of trickery is dangerous and allows the entire Bible to be rejected as just a fairytale if this type of logic was truly valid.

    1. Mike Tisdell says:

      Riley,

      Honestly people are just trying to understand the text and they recognize that sometimes there are factors that must be understood before one tries to interpret the text. A strait reading of the text can often be error prone.

      For example, the following Hebrew text would be grossly misunderstood if one interpreted it as the words literally read.

      הוא רוצה שאעשה הזה עומד על רגל אחת (lit. He wants me to do this standing on one leg)

      This idiom (originating in the 1st century) means that he has given him an impossibly short time in which to complete the task.

      Background for this idiom:

      The Rabbi Hillel was asked to explain the entire Torah while standing on one leg (a story recounted in the Mishnah). If one has no cultural understanding of this idiom they will miss the meaning completely.

      And here is one from the bible:

      חנך לנער על פי דרךו (lit. dedicate to the lad on the mouth of his way)

      It is a good thing that the translators interpreted this one for us, most would not understand a literal translation of this. Do you?

      However sometimes, like in Ge. 1, there are real questions about how to interpret some of these phrases. Some translations, like the NASB, try to not interpret those things that are difficult to be certain about but others, like the NIV, are highly interpretive and obscure many of the difficulties of the orignal text.

      Most of the debate you are seeing here is coming from those who hold a high view of Scripture and are trying to wrestle with these textual difficulties because they want to clearly understand what the author intended of just accepting what others have told them the text means. Realize that many of the questions about this text were first raised long before Darwin (and modern science) ever became a part of this discussion.

  69. Josh says:

    Ugh. These comments are why I can’t associate with YECs. Not because they’re wrong (I don’t know if they are or not, I’m still weighing the evidence in both directions), it’s that they seem completely incapable of graciously engaging in debate with those who disagree. Sweeping generalization, sure, but you guys certainly aren’t working all that hard to prove me wrong.

    Justin isn’t rejecting the resurrection or justification by faith here, he’s raising awareness for the fact that faithful believers disagree on this fact.

    File this subject alongside issues like the Millennium: real, faithful believers disagree. Does it make the issue unimportant? Obviously not. But, as someone said above, it’s not the litmus test for authentic Christianity either.

  70. Clark says:

    Thanks for doing this. I think many people in American Christianity assume that Genesis 1 must be 6 literal days in order to be orthodox. Seeing a post on a highly orthodox and conservative site as TGC will hopefully bring light to this.

    Have you read John Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis 1″ or the more academic companion? Very similar arguments as here, but I think he gives a much more compelling conclusion to the purpose of YHWH’s resting on the seventh day.

    1. Gary says:

      @Justin, you’ve went a long way to demonstrate that we can doubt what seems to be the plain reading of the text. Where does this this leave the average Joe when reading the rest of the Scripture?

  71. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

    The arguments presented in this article are nothing new. They have all been thoroughly refuted in my book ‘Creation, Fall, Restoration: A Biblical Theology of Creation’ (Mentor Press, 2009).
    http://www.amazon.com/Creation-Fall-Restoration-Biblical-Theology/dp/1845504461

  72. Mike says:

    According to Ligonier, R.C Sproul has changed his position and now believes in a literal six 24 hour day creation. You quote of him suggests that he still holds to an alternate view. He states in the following linked page from the Ligonier website that, ” For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four-hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Genesis 1-2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days.” http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-rc-sprouls-position-creation/,

  73. Martin says:

    God spoke to us in the NT in parables/stories. Could he have not also been doing that in the OT? These stories convey immutable spiritual truths.

    1. Mark says:

      Martin, in that case it was always clear that what was being told was a parable. This is completely different literature.

  74. John says:

    This is actually a pretty conservative interpretation. Biblical scholars pretty universally see two creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. The older is actually the one in Genesis 2. It’s very obvious if you read it in Hebrew, but even an English reader should be able to spot the basic differences. Note inversions of the order of creation (ironically most English bibles try to translate out the contradiction which is clear in the Hebrew here: that animals in Gen. 2 were made after humans).. anyways. I’m really not trying to start fights, but just saying that it’s a shame that this debate still happens at such a rudimentary level and it’s nice to have an article that opens these issues up to questions without it leading to a crisis of faith :)

  75. Matt says:

    Few issues reveal the depth of fundamentalistic tendencies in ‘literal’ Evangelical hermeneutics better than this one! Definitely on full display in the comments here….touche touche!

    1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

      You’re confusing holding to “literal days” with holding to a literalistic hermeneutic. Advocates of the literal creation days like myself do not hold to a literal hermeneutic. We adopt the standard historical-grammatical hermeneutic employed by all evangelical scholars.

      1. Mike Tisdell says:

        And this is the same standard historical-grammatical hermeneutic employed by evangelical scholars who reject a literal 24 hour day interpretation.

        1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

          Correct. What we disagree on is not the hermeneutic itself but the exegetical facts and the consistent application of the hermeneutic.

  76. Don Batten says:

    These arguments against taking Genesis in the historical-grammatical sense are all answered here: Six Days? Really?, with references to articles by various scholars. Mr Taylor has not addressed the arguments. And as is usual for such articles, the implications for the rest of the Bible are not fleshed out, as a couple of other commenters have pointed out (if you are consistent in the application, everything unravels). These consequences are explained at the beginning of the article recommended (Genesis cannot be interpreted in isolation from the rest of the Bible).
    There are also critical reviews of the books by Sailhamer and Walton on creation.com.

  77. Snichols says:

    i take this very hard. I have 5 kids and am trying to teach them the absolutes of scripture. It seems every new day, someone from the “Christian ” camp is undermining the authority of the bible. How can a person teach a child that God never changes when His leaders think that it’s open for interpretation? Why would the unsaved of our world want to be in the Christian camp when we can’t stick to our holy book, or we change it to suit us? If you cant believe in a 6 day creation, how can you believe in the virgin birth? This will definitely cause people to stumble and I’m sorry for it.

    1. Peter says:

      Hi Snichols, You claim the OP author Taylor is “undermining the authority of the Bible” or by implication possibly undermining belief in the virgin birth. Thus I can see how you might “take” it “hard” (though if you are a true Christian, your faith will persevere). But if you think thus, I don’t think you have read or understood Taylor’s article even if you disagree with the arguments and conclusions. May your–and our–love for God and your neighbor grow in knowledge and discernment, as Paul prayed for the church at Philippi. And that, I think, is a great need today. With loving knowledge and discernment, for example, one may perhaps present contrary arguments to Taylor’s with a view to his–and the reader’s– correction and edification–or be persuaded by them or some of them that in the end the church may march together, “one in hope and doctrine,” mature under the Head, which is Christ. And may your children grow to know and love the God of the Bible and the people of God, however in need of reformation according to the Scriptures such people (myself too!) may be.

  78. Dallas says:

    If God were to translate time to the humans He created. How would He do it? He designed the planet to spin and rotate around the sun. Day and night is so simple yet people have to find reasons to argue or pick the bible apart instead of just having faith. He made it in 24 hr increments therefore during the creation of the earth, time, humans and everything else He created the week as well as the 24 hr day. Start believing and having some faith people.

  79. donpjt says:

    Justin has started the article quoting R C Sproul, and almost made me believe that he (Sproul) does not believe in a literal 6 day creation. So i did check Sporoul’s article. and in the end R C Concludes “For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four-hour periods. ”

    So Justin quoting that as his starting statement is quite misleading as it does not show his current view of a literal six day creation held by RC Sproul.

  80. Daniel PIGNARD says:

    The Bible says that there has been creation of living beings in 6 days earth turns on itself, these six days are possible as the heavens and the earth were created first. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and above all, God then asks Moses to make a week with six days of work and rest on the seventh day, indicating that it is in order to imitate its creation in 7 days.

  81. Daniel PIGNARD says:

    When God says that creation took 6 days with evenings and mornings is that those are six days of earth round on itself.
    Here are some links that will explain scientifically and historically the mechanisms of the flood and continental drift, thesis presented to the CEP in 2002 at the invitation of Dominique Tassot.
    A summary of this mechanism:
    http://andre.gagnoud.free.fr/BIBLIOGRAPHIES/La_BIBLE_face_a_la_SCIENCE/Daniel_Pignard_-_20010609%20_-_Recherche_sur_le_Deluge_et_la_Derive_des_Continents_-_Resume.pdf

    Excerpts of the full written thesis on the flood and continental drift:
    http://andre.gagnoud.free.fr/BIBLIOGRAPHIES/La_BIBLE_face_a_la_SCIENCE/Daniel_Pignard_-_2001_-_Quand_Dieu_cogne_avec_sa_Graine_-_Extraits.pdf

    A demonstration of the earth’s transition from 360 to 365.25 days the flood:
    http://leplus.nouvelobs.com/contribution/424887-l-annee-comportait-360-jours-auparavant-quand-et-comment-est-elle-passee-a-365-25-j.html

  82. Sam says:

    I saw this question and as an ‘average Joe’ had to answer:

    “Where does this this leave the average Joe when reading the rest of the Scripture?”

    The average Joe don’t care much. In, what I understand is the plainest reading of when God created the Heavens and the earth, the ancient Hebrew would understand: God created the up there and the down here. Now I know a lot of people are cracking their knuckles, putting on a pot of coffee, sitting down with the laptops, and are saying it’s go time as they read this, the average Joe just isn’t one of them. No offense to the many people who are so invested in this discussion but the average Joe’s, like me, are putting our cares on Jesus to get through another day.

    1. David Morris says:

      Best comment all day :)

  83. Don Pucik says:

    The best witness we have to the truth of the Gospel will not be found in science, or in a labored effort to prove that Bible harmonizes with the latest scientific theory, but in the inner conviction formed by the Holy Spirit… Who is intimately familiar with the historical details of the cross, the resurrection, and creation.

  84. JR says:

    The issue is that both the PCA committee report and the book by Keith Matthison are supportive of literal six days OR day age theory. This post is particularly provocative because of its title “reasons to doubt the creation days were 24 hour”. If someone holds that the best interpretation and hermeneutical approach to Genesis is literal 24 hour days, them’s fightin’ words. So, the title was unfortunate and definately tainted a post that might have been helpful otherwise.

  85. Bill says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t augustines issue that he didn’t believe it would have taken God even 6 days to create? In other words he doubted the 24 periods because they seemed too long?

  86. Daniel says:

    God could have created all of creation in a single moment – but instead He purposely dragged the act of creation out over 6 days – even purposely took an unneeded rest on the seventh day.

    There was obviously a purpose to this, and I have to wonder if the same purpose can be soberly found in the alternative, a non-literal 7 day first week?

    I don’t know what to make of a God who inspires a text that no one can properly understand until thousands of years after the text has existed. Then I consider the origin of this notion, which is evolutionary theory, and question how it is that a theory premised upon the notion that there is no God, could possibly be the means God uses to shed light unto our unfortunate misunderstanding of the creation account. Yes, the Lord can feed a prophet using unclean birds – but that is categorically different than using the theories invented by atheists to correct doctrine.

    I have more respect for a Christian who simply doesn’t believe all of the bible, than one who doesn’t believe what the bible says, and so insists that the bible -means- something else. I hope this is a passing fancy.

  87. JD says:

    Have you seen this response to this article? http://creationtoday.org/24-hour-days-the-gospel-truth/

  88. Jim Hale says:

    Here is what concerns me the most from those that oppose YEC views. Their justification denies critical doctrines that are foundational to all other Reformed thoughts in the area of God’s revelation.

    Reformed thought teaches two revelations 1) Special revelation 2) General revelation.

    General revelation OR Natural revelation is subservient to Special revelation. In other words, we cannot know the God of the Bible by seeing a rock or looking at the sky and watching the birth of a child. Natural revelation only tells us there is “A GOD”. Man must have Special Revelation (Scripture) in order to know the God of the Bible.

    This is foundation teaching with all Reformed Theologians as well as most non-Reformed-yet protestant theologians would agree I would believe. Special revelation supersedes Natural revelation.

    Now when we come to creation week, for some reason, some want to turn the tables and claim we should trust Natural revelation above Special revelation. WHY? There is no reason to flip-flop unless you have placed a higher source of truth above what we read in the Bible.

    I’m fine with listening to arguments opposing my views and will gladly change my views if wrong. But faulty epistemological reasons should be challenged.

    So I ask..
    1) ”What is the Biblical reasoning behind why Christians should place Natural revelation above Special revelation?”
    2) “What is the foundation as to why day should mean age inside the text of Scripture?”

    Now I’m not asking for justification in how “day” can mean “age”. I will grant you this point. But..I’m asking why “day” should be anything but “day”.

    To answer this they will always go outside of Scripture. This is my concern.

    Jim

  89. sam says:

    I may not be familiar with all the issues regarding the interpretation of the creation account, but one thing I do know is that you should present your case with careful attention to the alternatives. I don’t see appropriate interaction with counterarguments to the points that Taylor has made here. Unless he wants to just simply give a soliloquy, Taylor should actually interact with the arguments more, otherwise this kind of post is too short to make such a case, and it’s not a good platform for a worthwhile discussion.

  90. Charmaine Nymann says:

    I must admit I was a bit shocked and disappointed by the title of this article – and then I remembered that Timothy Keller is part of TGC, and does not believe in YEC, so I am sure others are of the same persuasion :-( . . . I think an audience with Ken Ham might be in order for your TGC board :-)

    It truly saddens me when I hear of ‘solid, reformed’ leaders that question the age of the earth and try to manipulate the words in Genesis to suit their own ideas or opinions, or just won’t even take a stand – and yes, I am referring to RC Sproul, Sr. and others . . . I am just an ‘average’ person with no knowledge of Hebrew or Greek, but I DO believe that I can take what God has written in His Word just as it is written – and that the Bible was written for average folk like me!

    When I read of a 6 day creation, I believe a literal six-day creation. Why is there a need to make it different than that? And when I read that God rested on the seventh day, I believe that He rested on the seventh day – and that it was the same length of day as the others. Why wouldn’t it be? Logically, it doesn’t make sense for it to be any different. If it was, God would have said so – He doesn’t speak in riddles! God created the 7 day week for mankind – he didn’t need it for Himself. He knew we would need a day of rest, so in His wisdom and providence, He gave us one. And He set it apart as a holy day for us to worship and glorify Him as the Creator.

    God could have created the world in an instant, and he could have use evolution, but He didn’t. If He did, He would have told us so. If we cannot take Genesis literally, how can we take the rest of scripture as truth? As the world looks at Christians and sees we can’t even agree on the first book of our Bible, how foolish they must think we all are . . . and the devil laughs at it all!

  91. Tom says:

    This comment is for the lay person who is looking for answers to tough questions…Four years ago I was thrust into the world of the origins debate as my son 17 yo son was being recruited, academically, by several Ivy League schools to study in the sciences and engineering. I felt that I needed to really get a hold of the information, and quickly, as our youngest was going to be challenged in his beliefs and I didn’t want him going off in to a potentially hostile environment unprepared. I wanted to be able to help him navigate the rough waters with solid information.

    I had come from a very conservative background and had always leaned towards the YEC views, although there were a few things that never quite made sense to me. I started buying books, from all three perspectives, (YEC, ID and Evolutionary Creationism) and reading to get a broad understanding of what the issues and details were from each camps perspective. I have been consumed with this topic for the last four years. I now have over 50 books on the subject of origins and have spent, including non-book based research, over two thousand hours studying. My college major was Biblical Languages with a minor in Systematic Theology but my science education was limited to high school so I needed a better understanding of what science was telling us about the world and universe.

    My journey has been difficult at times, with more than a few sleepless nights, but ultimately it has been exhilarating, liberating and faith building. Although my personal understanding on origins has changed a great deal, my appreciation for the awesomeness and wonder of God’s creation has grown beyond what I ever anticipated. The struggle and effort has been worth it and I will never go back to the mindset I once had.

    Here are a couple of things I have learned about the intersection of science and faith.

    1. There are many with opinions, and some of them very strong, but few well informed opinions. Most of us get our information about the “evil other side” from what we are told by our group and not from reading the information for ourselves. There are not many who have really read first hand what the other side is really saying.
    2. The answers to some of the tough questions are not always easy to understand or obvious and are usually found in the details. Over simplification and lack of real understanding of what science is and is not saying is an obstacle to finding the truth.
    3. The origins debate is nothing new and we would do well to understand the very interesting and revealing history of how we got to where we are.
    4. Science is moving forward at a very fast pace and is not waiting for anyone. I need to be truly aware, and not afraid, of what science is telling me about God’s creation and not hold on to my 19th century ideas of the cosmos.

    Wonderful books I found helpful:
    The Language of God – Francis Collins
    The Lost World of Genesis One – John Walton
    Random Designer – Richard Colling
    Coming to Peace with Science – Falk
    The Bible Rocks and Time – Young & Stearley
    The Rocks Don’t Lie – Montgomery
    Origins – Haarsma & Haarsma

    Great Video: From The Dust – From The BioLogos Forum http://biologos.org/resources/from-the-dust
    Great Website: http://biologos.org/

  92. Felix says:

    One question I’ve always wondered about the YEC position the assumption that a day MUST be 24 hours even if you adopt a literal reading of the word “day.” A day literally defined is the amount of time that a planet takes to rotate around its axis. We know that there are other planets where a day is much longer than 24 hours. Why must we adopt the assumption that while the Earth was still being created (or even before the Earth was created) that it still would take the planet 24 hours to rotate around its axis, or that it would have been rotating at all? Isn’t this another example where the YAC position doesn’t take the text literally enough?

    1. pacoeltaco says:

      This has always been my contention with the claim of “6 24 hour periods”.
      To my knowledge, the Bible never defines a day in such a way that we should interpret it to be 24 hours. To the best of my knowledge, the Bible never actually defines a day. We have implied meanings that it was either a period of time, or a sun-down to sun-down.

      The definition of a “day” has changed so much over history, it’s hard to argue that the universe/earth was created in 144 hours:

      Was a day from sun-up to sun-up, sun-down to sun-down, a full rotation of the earth, or 24 hours? It cannot be all four of those things, and also be true.

      A day is currently 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds.
      An hour is currently 60 minutes and 360 seconds.
      A second is currently the time it takes for a caesium atom to vibrate about 9billion times.

      Ancient Jews measured the day as the time from sundown to sundown, taking no account of measuring the rotation of the earth (because… heliocentrism. The sun revolved around the earth, remember)
      Ancient Jews also didn’t measure hours and minutes (to the best of my knowledge). An hour was 1/12 of the available daylight for a given day. they had fractions of an hour…but no minutes or seconds.
      A Jewish hour was defined by the day, not the other way around.

      If it was a literal day, we have to decide if it was a full rotation, or sun-down to sun-down, or 23 hours 56 minutes and some change. Or, if it was a figurative day, we can happily agree that it took exactly as much time as God needed to get the job done.

  93. pacoeltaco says:

    Hi Justin, Thank you for your article, I’ve found it very informative.

    I’m not a theologian or scholar, but I have studied Ancient and Modern Hebrew for quite a few years on my own time, from reading the Tanakh and Rabbinical commentaries. I’ve studied a few different languages, and I hold the greatest contention specifically with the claim that creation must be interpreted as having take 6 24-hour days.

    1. The Bible is always true. When it seems to disagree with a fact from science, that means that either the science is wrong, or our interpretation of scripture is wrong. I believe that the right attitude with the creation story, and all of scripture is to humble ourselves before it and let it be God’s word, not ours.

    2. I don’t accept that the ancient Hebrews defined a day as a 24-hour period for issues of semantics:
    2.1 very few ancient cultures left behind dictionaries that provided objective definitions of a word, using only words from that language
    2.2 To my knowledge, the ancient Hebrews did not leave behind a Hebrew dictionary, which provided objective definitions in Hebrew, inclusive of a definition of the word day. To my knowledge, we rely on the original meaning solely on how the word is used elsewhere in scripture
    2.3 To my knowledge, the Bible does not contain any scripture that objectively defines a yom as “a period of 24 hours”
    2.4 To my knowledge, the Bible does not contain any scripture that objectively defines an hour as 60 minutes, or a minute as 60 seconds

    3. I believe that the idea that the earth/universe was created in 6 24-hour days is a culturally biased interpretation:
    3.1 The word “day” existed in thousands of languages;, well-before the idea of dividing into 24 equal parts, each of which was divided into 60 equal parts, which were again divided into 60 parts.
    3.2 In every language which I’ve studied (which is a few), the term “day” has definitely meant, “a period of time with a start and a stop”. And it’s usually been based on sunrise and sunset.
    3.3. When days are enumerated, in any language, they are always understood to mean similar periods of time. If something takes three days, the first two weren’t twice as long as the third. They all took the same amount of time.

    4. Saying that the earth/universe was created in 6 24-hour days is the exact same thing as saying that it was created in 6 periods of 86,400 seconds, or a total of 518,400 seconds.

    4.1 Time words are either strongly and objectively defined, or they are non-specific and figurative:
    “a day” either means “24 hours” or “a duration of time with a start and stop, usually coinciding with sun up and sun down”
    “an hour” either means exactly 60 minutes, or it means, “a period of time”.
    “A second” is either “9,192,631,770 transitions within a caesium atom”, or it is a “brief moment”.

    4.2 Time words do not intermix objective and figurative meanings.
    Semantically, we would not say that a task takes two hours, without meaning that it is 120 minutes or 7,200 seconds. So either, a day was 24 hours, with the implied meaning that an hour is 60 minutes, and a minute 60 seconds, or a day was just a day. We cannot use a modern scientific definition of a day, without using a scientific definition of an hour and a second.

    5. The Jewish calendar doesn’t quite support the modern idea of a day being 24 similar periods of time.
    5.1 the Jewish day did not have a fixed length, and the day was understood to go from sunset to sunset, usually starting when stars were visible. Winter days were shorter than summer days.
    5.2 the hour was 1/12 of the time from sunrise to sunset; it seldom would have been an exact 60 minutes
    5.3 a Jewish hour was divided into 1080 halakim, or approximately 1/72 of 1 degree of a celestial rotation.
    5.4 if we claim that the earth was created in 6 periods of equal duration, then we owe it to the scriptures to be accurately and state that those durations are not “24-hour periods” but variable-length periods based on the Jewish calendar.

    6. As I’ve just mentioned, the Jews never defined a day as a fixed length of time, where one was equal to the other. It had a variable meaning, going from sunset to sunset. In fact, they defined their day in this way, based on Genesis 1. This may be why many rabbinical texts do not assume an objective, fixed duration of time for creation. Their concept of a day was different than hours.

    I’m not saying that the earth wasn’t created in 6 days. It was.

    I am saying that we are exhibiting scientifically-driven cultural bias when we interpret the meaning of the word day. I think that the sound approach is to agree that they were 6 days, but that we have no clue how long they were.

    I also think Christians should use their time and their words wisely. Whether the universe was created in 507,600 seconds, 5 billion years, or 15 billion years, does that change the message of the gospel one bit? Is someone less of a sinner, and less deserving of redemption, because of when they believe the world was created? Do we honestly think that grace only extends to those who are young-earth, or old earth creationists.

    The Bible is the story of Jesus, not the story of the universe. Maybe the better approach is to quit focusing on myths about the creation of the earth, endless creation genealogies, and to focus on advancing God’s work.

    1. James says:

      History is His Story! You are in error, not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.

      1. pacoeltaco says:

        You’ve given a single declarative statement, and a subjective opinion, coupled with a a character judgement of me. You told me I was wrong because you’re right, because I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s not nice.

        1. I agree that History is the story of Jesus
        2. You’ve stated that I’m in error, without explaining the error. Therefore this your opinion
        3. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve studied it in English, Hebrew, French, and Spanish.
        4. I know the power of God. He created the universe.
        5. My issue is specifically with saying that the earth was created in six 24-hour periods. It is not young-vs. old earth. It is, quite specifically, the declaration that creation took place in 144 hours, as I believe this to be an invalid way to interpret scripture.

        The Bible does not explain if a day was

        * A full rotation of the earth
        * the time from sun down to sun down
        * the time from sun up to sun up
        * 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.1 seconds

        A day cannot be all four of these things at once.

        I 100% agree that the world was created in 6 days. I disagree with the claim that scripture supports the belief that it took 518,400 seconds.

        1. Find me a source that shows that the Jews considered a day to be exactly 24 hours.
        2. Find out how many seconds were in a day, according to scripture

        3. Try posting a productive, edifying comment.

        1. John K says:

          How about saying that the Jews considered a day to be “about 24 hours” instead of exactly? Or somewhere between 23 and 25 hours? How about saying creation took place in less than 200 hours? Could the Jews be pinned down that way?

          1. pacoeltaco says:

            Sure, 24 “Jewish Hours”, except the Jews stil didn’t have our concept of an hour. Our idea of an hour is a modern, scientific definition which did not exist to the ancient Hebrews.

            Even insisting that creation took place in “less than 200 hours” or that a day was, “between 23 and 25 hours” is still using our modern, scientific, bias to interpret an term that was never meant to be interpreted in such a way. Again, the hour is not how the ancient Jews would have defined a day. They would have defined the day as sun-down to sun-down, and the hour was a thing whose length was relative to the given day.

            My problem is that by saying it took, “X amount of hours for creation” is that we fail to observe that time is an entirely human dilemma. In Genesis, it is God who makes the day, and He gives no absolute definition of time.
            In fact, in Genesis 1:5, God defines the day:

            God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

            Creation required six transitions from evening into morning; to argue that it was any other length of time, or any other unit of measurement is to cast our bias into scripture.

  94. John K says:

    My problem with OEC is this: I believe that Adam was a created being, the first human, and he did not have any human or animal ancestors whatsoever. By and large, OEC proponents and arguments against the 6 days of creation being exactly or close to 24 hours days seem to have a big problem believing an historic Adam with no ancestors at all. A number believe in an historic Adam, but one with ancestors, while others deny it outright, or deem it unlikely. Outside of the gap theory (which I have a problem with considering Exodus 20:11, Justin’s paragraph about it not solving it), can someone point out Old Earth theories to me which are completely compatible with believe in an historic Adam with no ancestors?

    1. John K says:

      “completely compatible with belief” not “believe” and “believing in an historic Adam” I forgot to put in. Sorry for the grammar errors.

  95. Brent says:

    Under point 3 above, you say “The question we have to ask here is: was God’s creation ‘rest’ limited to a 24-hour period?” You then proceed to rightly answer “no,” and then conclude from that answer that the seventh day in Genesis 2:2-3 COULD NOT have been a 24-hour day, and therefore we cannot interpret the “days” in the creation account as literal 24-hour days. But your initial question is not one that we are forced to answer from the text itself, and therefore your logic does not follow. Genesis 2:2-3 DO NOT SAY that God’s rest was limited to a 24-hour period; it only says that God rested on the seventh day. Why could this not be a 24-hour day? And why could God’s rest not extend beyond that 24-hour day? The text does not preclude this possibility, so the weighty conclusions you draw from this point are not warranted in my opinion.

    If the days of creation were unspecified aeons, then there is really no meaningful correspondence between the Hebrew work week and God’s creation week, and the parallel drawn in Exodus 20:9-11 completely breaks down, even by analogy.

    1. Andrew Kulikovsky says:

      Your criticism is correct Brent. See my paper ‘God’s Rest in Hebrew 4:1-11′
      http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j13_2/j13_2_61-62.pdf

  96. Hi Justin,

    You wrote, “It is commonly suggested that this is such a “plain reading” of Scripture—so obviously clear and true—that the only people who doubt it are those who have been influenced by Charles Darwin and his neo-Darwinian successors. The claim is often made that no one doubted this reading until after Darwin. (This just isn’t true—from ancient rabbis to Augustine to B. B. Warfield—but that’s another post for another time.)”

    I, and others too I’m sure, would love to see an article that expands on this, especially in light of Albert Mohler’s statement (as quoted on AIG’s website at: https://answersingenesis.org/days-of-creation/why-i-believe-in-24-hour-days/#three)

    “What we have here in Genesis 1:1–2:3 is a sequential pattern of creation, a straightforward plan, a direct reading of the text would indicate to us seven 24-hour days, six 24-hour days of creative activity and a final day of divine rest. This was the untroubled consensus of the Christian church until early in the 19th century. It was not absolutely unanimous. It was not always without controversy. But it was the overwhelming, untroubled consensus of the church, until the dawn of the 19th century.”

    On a related note, have you seen the new series over at the BioLogos blog about their dialogue about origins with the Southern Baptists and Reasons to Believe?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks for the question Marie. A couple of quick thoughts: I think something similar could be said about the question of the church and geocentrism until the 1500s. At the end of the day, we must be sola Scriptura people, insisting on the Word as the only final authority, not tradition (though tradition should be taken seriously and respected).

      I have heard of the BioLogos discussion but haven’t check it out yet. Thanks for the reminder.

  97. Patrick Hess says:

    A day means a day every where in the Bible EXCEPT in Genesis chapter 1 & 2? ;-) Nothing in the passage would bring you to question that a day is anything other than what it is intended to be and is throughout all scripture. It is good to contend these issues…in so doing who among us is willing to admit that it is difficult to overestimate how much we ALL have been indirectly persuaded from sources outside the Bible and the Holy Spirit…that is the man I am interested in hearing from on this subject. I know that I have be so influenced by what is considered “common knowledge in science” I must constantly acknowledge it or I would be swayed by it. ”You questioned: “How long were God’s workdays? The Bible doesn’t say. But I see no reason to insist that they were only 24 hours long.” I question: “What motivation is there to consider anything other than what the Bible intends to say about a day?” This is important because Scripture is not anywhere motivating us to reconsider the lengths of these early days(if I have missed it tell me where this challenge is laid out in scripture)…and so I maintain that the motivation is from without and thus beware. By the way interesting to note that the “science” of the last several hundred years has been “ever changing” and never coming to the “knowledge of the truth”. I would challenge each to consider: “how much do I/we view/interpret scripture(not just on this issue alone) through the lens of our experience, versus excepting scripture for simply what it says.” Don’t try to make the Bible fit into your context(ie. the current excepted “flavor-of-the-year” view of our peers in academia)… rather interpret your context through the lens of the Bible…it will yield a night and day difference(pun intended) on this issue which is foundational to sound hermeneutics through the rest of the Bible. Thank you Justin for sharing your thoughts on this.

  98. Peter Green says:

    Eh. I think these arguments do imply that young earth creationists ought to be more humble in their claims and more charitable in their interactions, but I have never found these arguments to be persuasive. The problem with the “analogical days” is that it uses a hermeneutic that, when applied consistently, means that it would have been essentially impossible for God to communicate days whose length of time is equivalent to ours. For instance, had the text specified that they were 24 hour days, it could just be claimed that the hours were analogous for all the same reasons that it is claimed the days are analogous. As for the seventh day, it is a non sequitur to suggest that because the the seventh day lacks a textually indicated end for theological reasons, that therefore the other six days, which do include textually indicated ends, are also not 24 hours.

    Reason 5, about the operation of the ordinary providence in Gen 2:5ff is one of the most repeated arguments, but seems to me to be completely irrelevant. For one “erets” in 2:5ff could refer simply to the land of Eden, and in view of the rest of the chapter probably does. It is also noteworthy that “shrub” of 2:5 is different than the words for vegetation in ch 1.

    When I read stuff like this, I generally think that old earth creationists identify a lot of good theological and textual insights (the two sets of three days identified by the framework hypothesis, the depiction of God working identified by the analogical days, the eschatological sabbath on the seventh day, etc.). However, every single such insight is compatible with a young earth creation interpretation.

    The strongest argument in favor of agnosticism about the age of the earth is the issue of the relation between 1:1 and the rest of the chapter. But even if we agreed with the author, that creates as many if not more problems than is solves. Are we really to suppose that this argument is compatible with the scientific evidence that is interpreted to support an old earth? No plants, animals, sun, stars? Did the earth exist for billions of years with nothing but water and darkness? No problems, whether Biblical or scientific, are solved by this suggestion. Some people have come up with creative solutions to this problem, but they are entirely ad hoc and speculative as in the theory that the earth was created and then divolved into chaos between vv. 1 and 2. John Sailhamer’s theory is the most unique, which is that 1:1 relates the creation of the universe as we know it (without any indication of length of time) and that the rest of Genesis 1:2–2:25 concerns preparing the land of Canaan for Israel. But this theory has its own problems and has not found wide support.

    1. Joe says:

      Excellent response Peter. Thanks.

  99. Derrick Zuk says:

    I’m disheartened to see this article on the “Gospel” Coalition website. This belief in millions of years of creation destroys the very foundation for the Biblical Gospel. This is not an isolated issue; you must take these beliefs to their logical conclusion. That conclusion, if you are consistent, is heresy. Please read our brief article on the issue here: http://geniusofancientman.blogspot.ca/2014/07/a-road-to-heresy.html
    I also recommend the countless articles and materials by Answers in Genesis on these issues. Praying you will see the seriousness of this faulty, worldly view of millions of years.

    1. JD Nielson says:

      Where exactly does he argue for millions of years?

      1. Tim Thornton says:

        True, there is no place where he mentions “millions of years”. However, if one is to doubt that the days of creation are actually 24 hour days, then what is the alternative? Those who say they believe the Bible and also hold that the earth is old don’t even believe that it’s hundreds of thousands of years old, but the age is always in the range of millions and billions of years. I believe this is because they trust the dates given by “mainstream science”, which by the way are faulty and full of assumptions. So those who believe the Bible and also hold to millions and billions of years of time can only fit this time within the creation week. It’s impossible to argue that Adam and Eve lived millions of years ago from the text of Scripture. If the days of creation really are “long periods of time” then how long is the seventh day that supposedly we are still in? Does “day” mean a different length of time for each “formation” of things during the creation week? Once again, I ask the question: what is the alternative to the plain reading of Scripture? Why should people be given reasons to doubt something but no suggested reasons to believe anything? We as Christians, bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, ought to be true “Bereans” of His Word; searching the Scriptures to seek truth and not ambiguity. The enemy of our souls wants us to doubt God’s Word! And the first two chapters of Genesis seem to be under attack in our world today. Read the article Derrick Zuk posted on how this effects the gospel itself.

  100. Bob Hayton says:

    Wow. Tons of comments. I’ll bookmark this to read thoroughly later – lots of food for thought.

    Apparently Ken Ham replied to this and I don’t see anyone linking to it: Rejecting Six Literal Days — What’s the Real Motivation?

    I have my own reply to Ken Ham and comments about this debate and whether it is legitimate to re-examine our interpretation on the basis of science: Rejecting Geocentrism: What’s the Real Motivation?

    Thanks for the food for thought, Justin.

  101. Joe says:

    The points of disagreement I have with your post, Justin, are all mentioned by others above except for one.
    I can’t find in my own, or online editions of City of God, where Augustine said what you quoted. Here is the whole text of 11.7 from CCEL:
    _____________________________________________________
    We see, indeed, that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting, and no morning but by the rising, of the sun; but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness, and called the light Day, and the darkness Night; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it. For either it was some material light, whether proceeding from the upper parts of the world, far removed from our sight, or from the spot where the sun was afterwards kindled; or under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits, the city of which the apostle says, “Jerusalem which is above is our eternal
    209
    mother in heaven;”459 and in another place, “For ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”460 Yet in some respects we may appropriately speak of a morning and evening of this day also. For the knowledge of the creature is, in comparison of the knowledge of the Creator, but a twilight; and so it dawns and breaks into morning when the creature is drawn to the praise and love of the Creator; and night never falls when the Creator is not forsaken through love of the creature. In fine, Scripture, when it would recount those days in order, never mentions the word night. It never says, “Night was,” but “The evening and the morning were the first day.” So of the second and the rest. And, indeed, the knowledge of created things contemplated by themselves is, so to speak, more colorless than when they are seen in the wisdom of God, as in the art by which they were made. Therefore evening is a more suitable figure than night; and yet, as I said, morning returns when the creature returns to the praise and love of the Creator. When it does so in the knowledge of itself, that is the first day; when in the knowledge of the firmament, which is the name given to the sky between the waters above and those beneath, that is the second day; when in the knowledge of the earth, and the sea, and all things that grow out of the earth, that is the third day; when in the knowledge of the greater and less luminaries, and all the stars, that is the fourth day; when in the knowledge of all animals that swim in the waters and that fly in the air, that is the fifth day; when in the knowledge of all animals that live on the earth, and of man himself, that is the sixth day.
    ______________________________________________________________
    It seems Augustine’s question was not the precise length of the day but by what light was “evening and morning” measured before the Sun was created. Note that he says, “but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it.” In spite of his question about this, then, he affirms, “yet [we] must unhesitatingly believe it.” So to use City of God 11.7 to suggest Augustine did not believe a young Earth and was ambiguous about the meaning of “day” seems to me to be disingenuous.
    Here is what he says a little later in City of God 12.10:
    _____________________________________________________
    They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. And, not to spend many words in exposing the baselessness of these documents, in which so many thousands of years are accounted for… But not even thus, as I said, does the Greek history correspond with the Egyptian in its chronology. And therefore the former must receive the greater credit, because it does not exceed the true account of the duration of the world as it is given by our documents, which are truly sacred.
    _____________________________________________________
    So Augustine specifically states that the world by his time was not 6000 years old. You might argue somewhat from silence that he did not know how long each day was in Creation Week, but it seems pretty sneaky to argue therefore that he did not believe the plain reading of Gen was conclusive about a young Earth.

  102. Rudolph Zelenka says:

    Biblical, Historical, Scientific Reasons to Know the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods.

    Not one of the ancient interpretive translations of the Hebrew text (some of which were wildly interpretive) offer anything other than “day one/first day” for the text of Genesis 1:5. This is true of the Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Paris Aramaic Targum Fragment, Vatican Targum Fragment, Nürnberg Targum Fragment, Neofiti Targum, Pseudo-Jonathan Targum and Targum Onkelos. Historical sources Josephus in Antiquities, 1:27–29 we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. The earth had not come into sight, but was hidden in thick darkness, and a breath from above sped over it, when God commanded that there should be light. It came, and, surveying the whole of matter, he divided the light from the darkness, calling the latter night and the former day, and naming morning and evening the dawn of the light and its cessation. This then should be the first day, but Moses spoke of it as ‘one’ day; I could explain why he did so now, but having promised to render an account of the causes of everything in a special work, I defer till then the explanation of this point also.” He says in Ant. 8:60–62, for he thought that the text allows by simple addition to come the year of the deluge and even the year of creation. “Solomon began the building of the temple in the fourth year of his reign, in the second month, which the Macedonians call Artemisios and the Hebrews Iar, five hundred and ninety-two years after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, one thousand and twenty years after the coming of Abraham to Canaan from Mesopotamia, one thousand four hundred and forty years after the deluge; and from the creation of Adam the first man to the time when Solomon built the temple there elapsed altogether three thousand one hundred and two years.” There are a number of similar texts from the Babylonian Talmud which suggest the Rabbis took the days as normal days.
    Check out Nazir 1.3b–c, Pesahim 88a, Hagigah 12a, Shabbat 10a, Berakhot 2a.
    Even in the ancient cultic Jewish writings in the Pseudepigrapha it show that even marginal Jews believed that Genesis 1 meant normal days. Consider 2 Enoch 27:4 it says, “And I separated between light and between darkness, that is to say in the midst of the water hither and thither, and I said to the light, that it should be the day, and to the darkness, that it should be the night, and there was evening and there was morning the first day.” Even in the Midrash Rabbah when the Rabbis are making their comments in regards to Gen. 3:8. Referencing Numbers 7, they frame it with the understanding of creation days as of it’s first. Another way of looking at this is if Moses wanted to use other words he could have like `ôläm that often means “ages” in the MT (Masoretic Text). The plural of “age” appears ten times in Qumran which shows that the word could be used of multiple ages. (1Q19 Frag. 2:6; 1Q20 2:4, 7; 4:3; 10:10; 16:12, 14; 20:13; 21:10; 21:12.) However, if `ôläm might be objectionable because of its association with eternity, Moses could have used, dôr wädôr “generation and generation” as Isaiah uses in Isa. 61:4,40 or `ad-šünê dôr wädôr “to the years of many generations” as in Joel 2:241 or “many in years” rabbôt baššänîm as Moses himself uses in Lev. 25:51.42 Or he could have written wüšänîm rabbôt “many years” as appears in Eccl. 6:13. But he did not for he wanted to use yom echad in the framework of evening and morning.
    If we go to the historical church father, almost all of them understand the scripture text, Hebrew, Greek, Latin languages speaking of 24 hour period that leads up to weeks, months, years as we know today. Check out the Lactantius (250–325), Ambrose (337–397), Basil the Great (ca. 330–379), Ephrem the Syrian (306–373), Victorinus (4th century) their commentaries of Genesis or other books they wrote. Even Origen (ca. 185–253), usually forwarded as a star witness for the old age proponents, does not support old age earth, for he writes in Against Celsus, 1:19, ANF, 4:404.
    “After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated.” and even Augustine (354–430) wrote in City of God, 18.40.1. “For as it is not yet six thousand years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, and contrary to, the ascertained truth?” or in City of God, 12.10.2. “They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.”
    How could there be any understanding with the subject chronology without a proper understanding of day, night, weeks, months, years. In fact the word comes from Ancient Greek (χρόνος, chronos, “time”; and -λογία, -logia). It is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time. The use of a timeline or sequence of events. Did not the Holy Spirit inspired Apostle Doctor Luke to record for us the chronology of Jesus birth back to Adam in Genesis? The resurrected Jesus as God allowed the church to believe that he descended from a real person who was directly created by God. In Luke, Jesus’s genealogy goes back to David (the point at which both Mary’s and Joseph’s genealogies join together). Ultimately it continues to Adam who is directly connected with God. And in this allowance, Jesus orchestrated 1800 plus years of interpretation to assert the text (Genesis 1–11) as history. If anyone was to do a simple research as to how the modern 24 hours per day and night came about you will see that historically it arose from the Ancient Egyptian astronomical system of decans. Although the hours within a given day were approximately equal, their lengths varied during the year, with summer hours being much longer than winter hours. However, hours did not have a exact fixed length until the Greeks decided they needed such a system for theoretical calculations. Hipparchus proposed dividing the day equally into 24 hours which came to be known as equinoctial hours (because they are based on 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on the days of the Equinoxes). Hipparchus and other Greek astronomers employed astronomical techniques that were previously developed by the Babylonians, who resided in Mesopotamia. The Ancient Babylonians made astronomical calculations in the sexagesimal (base 60) system they inherited from the Sumerians, who developed it around 2000 B.C. Although it is unknown why 60 was chosen, it is notably convenient for expressing fractions, since 60 is the smallest number divisible by the first six counting numbers as well as by 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30. The Ancient Chinese used their horary systems for measuring time. I recommend the book TIME AND ITS MEASUREMENT by James Arthur. But if there was one who knew how the Ancient Egyptian tell time it was Moses. Again as it’s been pointed here by others there are different ways to know how exactly to measure 24 hours of time. For example look how long our bodies need and want sleep. Sure its different for the stages of growing up. It ranges from 7 to 9 for adults for Newborns (0–2 months) 12 to 18 hours. And the night is perfect for this to come about. As we all know that sleep timing is controlled by the circadian clock, sleep-wake homeostasis, and in humans, within certain bounds, willed behavior. The circadian clock—an inner timekeeping, temperature-fluctuating, enzyme-controlling device—works in tandem with adenosine, a neurotransmitter that inhibits many of the bodily processes associated with wakefulness. Adenosine is created over the course of the day; high levels of adenosine lead to sleepiness. As one reviews how Moses writes about years, months, weeks, days, nights after the days of creation it plainly shows that 24 hours can be assumed as a natural thing. Then when Moses proceeds into the book of the generations of Adam he gives years of how old they were when they became a father to a son and how long they lived. Before the flood some them lives up to over 900 years. Just before the flood the Lord decided we was going to limited their lives to 120 years because of the corruption of mankind, Gen. 6:3. Then the Lord proceeds to give details about an Ark he was to build. Then after the Lord told them to enter the Ark, He said in Gen. 7:4, “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” Now Moses tells us how old he was in verse 6, “Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. Then Moses tells us more detail, in verse 10-12, “It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. Then in Gen. 8:4-5, “In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.” and again 11&12, “The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.” At the words ‘toward evening’ The Hebrew reads (lit.) “the time of evening”. And in verses 13-14, “Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.” Even though the Lord’s adds or changes the seasons of our environment still there will be days and nights. “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night shall not cease.”

    If there is no 24 hours in a day or 168 hours in a week or 672 hours in a month, approximately depending out many days you use in a month & year. Then you might as well say our Lord Jesus Christ was not three days and three nights in the middle of the earth. I think one of the first persons to raise up at the final judgment to cry out how damming that statement is would be prophet Jonah.

  103. Gian Monzeglio says:

    Hi Justin. You start your article by quoting RC Sproul in a way that seems to imply that he holds your view on literal 6 days. Whilst he might have in the past, in his commentary on the Westminster confession on this point he clealry states that he has changed his mind. I think, seeing you started the article with his name, you should have mentioned it because part of your argumentation seems to rely on showing that your view is held by many good reformed scholars. I love your work but this article seemed out of sync with your usual approach and has a strong sense of bias about it. I would love to see a long scholarly debate on this by the best Hebrew scholars available to us.

  104. Seth says:

    Justin,

    Its difficult to read this post without thinking of other leading evangelicals who are praised without a word of warning for their gospel-related errors.

    Just a few obvious ones:
    1. J. I. Packer endorsing ECT.
    2. John Frame endorsing Christians watching sex scenes in movies.
    3. Richard Mouw endorsing some good Mormons as true Christians.
    4. Mark Noll endorses evolution as “fully compatible with historic Christian orthodoxy.”

    They did not reach their positions in a closed room with a Bible. How is what you’re doing any different than what they’ve done?

  105. Doug says:

    Who could understand the power of God in creation? Best to take God at his Word.

    Job 38

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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