In previous confessions I have attempted to explain why I feel the Creation days were actual, 24 hour days. I have shown that the Bible makes clear that Jesus in the New Testament and God the father in the Old Testament both agree that Creation was a week long. But if you have read anything about this debate from the people who consider me a dirty, unwashed, uneducated, unscientific backwoods hick, you know that they will try and argue that Genesis 1 uses a word for ‘day’ (Yom in the Hebrew) which, just like the English word ‘day’ can mean more than merely a single 24 hour calendar day. And they are correct. It can mean more than that.
This is where the Old Earth Creationist cries “BWAHA! (Literally: “FoShizzle!”) Then you admit that the word translated as DAY in Genesis 1 can mean something OTHER than a normal, 24 hour calendar day!”
And I say, “Yup.” (Literally, “FoSho'”)
And then they say “Then you admit that the days of Genesis 1 could be LONGER than a single day!”
And I say, “Mmmmm..Nope.”
I don’t know what they say to this, because no one ever seems to carry on past this point. They just wander off and get distracted by other things I suppose.
If I can rabbit trail for just a moment, this is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves of this and many other debates. People do not CONTEND with the full position of the other side! I hear people saying ALL OF THE TIME that Yom can mean a single, 24 hour calendar day, but it can ALSO mean an undefined period of time (Like, “Back in MY day, we wore our pants OFF the ground!”) or just the daylight portion of the day (Like, “I wouldn’t eat that. It’s been laying out on the lawn ALL DAY.”) depending on the context. But they NEVER ADDRESS THE CONTEXT! Seriously this is not the science of rockets! If you have enough education to say, “Yom Might mean something other than a normal day, depending on the context,” then you OUGHT to have enough sense to see what the context of Genesis 1 says without Ken Ham having to tell you. BUT THESE GUYS NEVER DO!
They all just say, “Yom can mean more than one thing, so MAYBE each day in Genesis 1 is a few BILLION YEARS long.” What they really should be saying next is, “Let’s look at the context of Genesis 1 and see what it tells us about the proper way to define Yom in that context.” Their poor high school English teachers must cry themselves to sleep every night.
So let’s take a look for them. The paragraph below (Edited for brevity) is part of a much more detailed chapter on this topic by our good friend Ken Ham. He addresses more of the details and objections than I do, and he sites his sources, so if you want to write a proper report on this which will NOT make your English teacher cry herself to sleep, Check out Ken Ham’s Article HERE.
To understand the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1, we need to determine how the Hebrew word for “day,” yom, is used in the context of Scripture. Consider the following:
A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used with each of the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning”11 23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?12
In Genesis 1:5, yom occurs in context with the word “night.” Outside of Genesis 1, “night” is used with yom 53 times, and each time it means an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? Even the usage of the word “light” with yom in this passage determines the meaning as ordinary day.13
The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.”14 Adding a number here would be nonsensical. Clearly, in Exodus 20:11, where a number is used with “days,” it unambiguously refers to six earth-rotation days.
There are words in biblical Hebrew (such as olam or qedem) that are very suitable for communicating long periods of time, or indefinite time, but none of these words are used in Genesis 1.15 Alternatively, the days or years could have been compared with grains of sand if long periods were meant.
Thank you Ken Ham and all of the fine men and women of AiG.
In short, the language of Genesis 1 is the same language used everywhere else in the Old Testament to indicate a single, 24 hour calender day, and other words exist in Hebrew which DO convey a long period of time, but were NOT used in the Creation narrative. In fact, I have never even heard anyone suggest a way in which the author here (Moses) could have made this clearer. No Old Earth creationist I have ever heard or read has ever said, “If Moses had REALLY wanted to convey a single 24 hour day in Hebrew, what he could have said was…” They just assume that because Yom could mean something else in a particular context, that it can mean anything in ANY context. Their poor, poor English teachers. How they must weep.
The final argument from scripture which is usually associated with this attempt to lengthen the six creation days comes from the seventh day. First, many will try and argue that Hebrews 4 tells us that the Seventh day is STILL GOING ON, and thus, those Creation says CAN’T be normal days. Once again, why these people feel they can define a Hebrew word in the Old Testament with a Greek passage in the New Testament is beyond me. Not only that, but Hebrews 4 does not say that the Seventh day of Creation is still going on. Go read it. Anyone can see that Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 call the Creation week, six days. But then people will choose to ignore that fact and try to read into Hebrews 4 that the Seventh day is still going on, and thus the Creation days were not normal days? This is my argument kids. Just say NO to drugs.
Seriously. Go read Hebrews 4 for yourself. If you have a translation that says, “The seventh ‘day’ of Creation, where in God rested, is STILL going on because, like the other days, it’s not REALLY a day,” let me know what translation you are reading and I will run out and pick up a copy. Until then, I think reading the passage is all the argument anyone should need. It doesn’t say that. Claiming that Hebrews 4 tells us how long Creation week days are is a stretch better than you can get with a pound of fresh taffy. (That’s a State Fair colloquialism. Feel free to use that this summer!)
One argument that people try to make to validate this seventh day lasting forever business is the fact that the seventh day in Genesis 1 does not conclude with “And there was evening, and there was morning, the nth day.” They argue that, if this was just another normal day, then the author would have said this like he did with all the other days. What this argument fails to realize is that for this argument to work at all, the other six days MUST be regular days because they DO use that concluding phrase. It defeats itself in it’s assumptions. The best this argument gives you is a normal six day week with a metaphorical weekend, and even that is a stretch. A stretch like Elastagirl (From Disney/Pixar’s the Incredibles, now on Blue Ray and Disney DVD!).
How about we all use the clear passages of scripture, like Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 telling us Creation took a week, and use them to interpret the less clear passages of scripture, like Hebrews 4 where in we seem to be given a metaphor for God’s rest (7th day of creation), Sabbath rest (Every 7th day) and salvation (Any day of the week)? Doesn’t that make more sense? I think it does. So that’s just what I’ll do. Feel free to do the same. And thanks for letting me be your Rent-A-Friend.