The Meaning of the Days of Creation in Genesis One
A matter that weighs heavily between the science world and the biblical world is the meaning of the ?days? of creation in Genesis 1. Are God?s creative days to be taken as long periods of time, eons, or short periods of time, i.e. 24 hours? We will examine the biblical evidence for possibly applying a long-term definition to the word, ?day? in English, yom in Hebrew, and see that in the Bible; it is all a matter of timing. Remember the article by Pinnock; we must not let our long-standing presuppositions fog our objective look at the issue.
After God divided the light from the darkness, ?God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day? (Gen. 1:5). For Moses, was it his intention to convey a day?s period of time in this and succeeding passages in exactly the same measure as a man?s day? Or was a day of God?s time intended, which could contrast as sharply from our measure, as man in the flesh contrasts against God Himself? As we saw in class, the stages of God?s creation are written in sequence. The first day began when the sun was created and the first bright light struck the planet Earth. On the second day, the Lord divided the waters; vapor or mist was in the air, and water covered the surface. Dry land and vegetation were created on the third day. The sun, moon, and stars were designated created on the fourth day. Day five was devoted to creating the world?s fish and fowl flying creatures. Land animals came on the scene, and man was created on day six. The Lord rested on the seventh day, signaling his completeness and his favor on His work. Next we come to the question of the hour, what were the actual time constraints that happened during the entire creation process?
The Hebrew word yom has the same meaning as ?day? in English. It can mean the daylight portion of a day, the entire 24-hour period, a time of undesignated length, or a day of celebration. Which usage did Moses intend in the first passages of Genesis? Better yet, what meaning did God intend to convey through Moses? Many have come to believe that interpreting those creative days as long periods is a relatively modern phenomenon dictated by the recent findings of science, i.e. sedimentation rates, radioactive decay rates, a vast and expanding universe, and so forth, but such may not be the case. Some of the early church fathers took their cues from Scripture alone without the benefit of all the scientific information available today. Ross argues that Irenaeus, Origen, Basil, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, to name a few, argued that the days of creation must have been long periods of time solely from their understanding of the biblical text. (1) There are some today, however, who advocate that the creation days in Genesis were strictly 24 hours in duration. Henry Morris in The Genesis Record states, ?... the Biblical record itself makes it...