Once upon a time, I thought science had well proven the ancient ages of the universe and earth, and I had followed the popular culture into wedding Genesis 1 with Big Bang cosmology. Since then I have become a science teacher and a Young Earth Creationist. Also, according to FaceBook, Genesis 1 and the Big bang have split up (Relationship Status: “It’s Complicated”). I suspect the marriage was never legitimate in the first place. Big Bang was merely looking for a green card. I think he needs to move out of the church.
Of course, one of the big questions everyone has about the Creation account as given in Genesis 1 is “How long were those “days” of Creation?” On the surface this seems like a very silly question. They were a day long. That’s why they were called a DAY. Seriously, go read Genesis 1. It’s really redundant about making this point. “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day...And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day…And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.“ Over and over with this same language. Why would anyone question the fact that creation week was a week long?
It all started in the 1700’s. Cynical atheist philosophers had begun to attack the church. Following the popular atheism of the day came atheist “scientists.” I put that word in quotes because many of them were not actual scientists. Charles Lyell, who sought to disprove the Genesis account with geology, was actually a lawyer. Charles “Chuck D.” Darwin only had a degree in Theology. But the two of them had the only thing that matters to a lot of people these days- a cynical disdain for the Bible. Once Lyell’s work became popular, and Darwin’s work built the slow, gradual development of life on that LONG history, everyone just kind of went with it. The atheists of course were all, “FINALLY! A way of burying Genesis and the need for God to explain what we observe in Geology and Biology!” and the church was all, “Oh, science says so? Well, I suppose science would never lie to us. Science has such a kind face, and has done so many nice things for us. Let’s just pretend that the Days in Genesis can mean… oh, something else. Like, REALLY, REALLY LONG days. Nobody has to be wrong here!”
Deep time was quickly put into textbooks and taught simply as scientific fact, and then when the Big Bang model came along a few decades later, much of the American Church just said, “Maybe we should just stop reading Genesis all together.” A few decades later, people like Ken Ham and Dwayne Gish came along and said, “Are you kidding? This deep time stuff isn’t even SCIENCE! When you look at the Data and not the atheistic interpretations of the data, Genesis stands up as tall and proud as she ever did!” And then other Christians started calling them “divisive.” Apparently, trying to use science and reason to show that the Bible is TRUE is more than some Christians can tolerate from other Christians. I’ve been called a few names myself.
All of this to say, the reason people started questioning how long the days of Creation Week were is not because we suddenly gained a better understanding of Hebrew, or because we found older Bible manuscripts that showed that it shouldn’t say “Day,” but was merely because the church didn’t want to look stupid in front of her friends. They were told that SCIENCE proved the earth to be billions of years old which meant OBVIOUSLY Genesis couldn’t possibly mean what it says. But we need to keep in mind that deep time was not DISCOVERED by science, it was INVENTED by atheists and then got a “Hello, My name is: SCIENCE” sticker slapped onto it. Good grief, some people still believe that sticker. It’s really sad how much some people REALLY REALLY believe that sticker above all else. But I digress.
So, what DID God have to say about it all? Once again, I seriously suggest you go read Exodus Chapter 20 for yourself. If people spent as much time reading the Bible as they do reading ABOUT it, I wouldn’t have to write so many of these articles.
It’s the Ten Commandments, as given to Moses by God. Because of the various Sunday School cartoons and other movie depictions we’ve all seen, we tend to imagine that Moses wandered down the mountain and said, “OK guys, listen up. I’ve come up with ten rules for all of you which God has signed off on. I’m gonna read them out loud now, and we’ll have a brief Q&A, and then I expect you to start putting this into effect by the middle of next week at the latest.” The chapter actually starts with this rather significant phrase;
“And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God…”
GOD is doing the talking here, and one of the things he says (which always seems to get left off of those posters on the wall at Sunday School) is this:
“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
It really doesn’t get any clearer than that. GOD, speaking to Moses and company, says they will work SIX DAYS and rest for ONE DAY (For a seven day work week) and explains WHY by saying it was SIX DAYS of Creation and ONE DAY of rest, for a total of SEVEN DAYS. When you compare this to Genesis 1, you’ll start to see some similarities. Both say it was six days of Creation and one day of rest. I feel like I’m talking down to you even explaining this, but some people really can’t see this. To me, this is like showing you the ingredients for a “Chocolate cake” to prove that “Chocolate Cake” has chocolate in it. I don’t mind doing it, but I know SOMEONE is going to write me a snotty note that says, “Days don’t have to be DAYS! They can be something else! Like overlapping epochs of vast amounts of time! And maybe the cake is named after someone NAMED “Chocolate” like Chef Gordon Chocolate. Stop being so close minded and divisive!”
This is how some people argue. And on Twitter, these are the smarter ones.
Some people will try to claim that there is not intended to be a day by day comparison here, which to me strains credulity. I mean, he actually MAKES the day to day comparison. Six days and one day to six days and one day. He didn’t bless a seventh undefined very long period of time. He blessed the seventh DAY. To me this is pretty hard to mess up.
The Old Earth Creation model tries to say God intended this merely to be a numerical comparison. This fails for a couple of reasons. First, why does God need to make a numerical comparison? Surely the Children of Israel were smart enough to understand the concepts of six and one without some clever analogy? And if that’s all this is, why does He not do it again when he makes decrees involving six years and one year? Exodus 23: 10-11 says this: “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.” No reference to creation is made for this six to one ratio. In fact, verse 12 references the work week and sabbath day, making a literary “work six rest one” parallel, but not a day for day comparison. In Exodus 21 another “six years and then on the seventh” reference is made, and again no reference to days or creation. Several of these are made in Leviticus 25, but again no reference to creation week, or mention of days as a metaphor for years. What is the point of doing it just that once in the middle of the Ten commandments unless it actually means what it says? In fact, why would God say something he doesn’t mean? I didn’t know God back then, but from what I can tell He has always been a most honest gentleman with no need to lie to anyone. Not only that, but I suspect it well within reason to suppose that God was very familiar with the Hebrew language, Him being Omniscient and all. If this is so, then He would have known that there were other Hebrew words for LONG PERIODS OF TIME so that He wouldn’t have to use the word DAY to mean BILLIONS OF YEARS. But we’ll talk about that more soon.
And the final call is this: Unless you assume deep time at the start and are trying to cram it into the Bible, there is no reason to try to interpret Exodus 20 to mean Billions of Years, or just some pointless metaphor. There’s also no reason to try to interpret Genesis 1 in this manner either. We can just let “day” mean “day.” But there is one more objection before we get all that grammatical. Some people will still try and argue that, while He is very Honest, God simply doesn’t understand how time works. They try to use the Bible to make this argument. You join me next time, and in the mean time, I shall practice NOT rolling my eyes. And thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.