Genesis 1: YOM as 24 hour days or periods of time

This is a common creationist trope: it science doesn’t know everything, therefore science knows nothing. But in fact science knows some things. We don’t know how life began, but we certainly know a great many ways it didn’t began, and 6000 years ago in 6 days is definitely not it. We also know that the universe is much older than the earth. Either Genesis is wrong or your understanding of Genesis is wrong. There’s no credible third option.

There is a third option, though I don’t think you would find it credible: the universe is made so as to give a false impression. Science has been deceived by God.


I am sorry I made you frustrated, Valerie. That was not my intention. I do appreciate your participation on this forum and your thoughtful comments.

Its likely I’m misunderstanding what you are saying here, but I do not see how it is even possible for God to explain the actual process of creation in such a short text. It has taken me decades of studying science to have even a very basic, minimal understanding of what might have had to have happened during creation. I very much looking forward to learning what actually happened when we get to heaven.

There is also the possibility (curious if anyone else would agree this idea), that perhaps the order of creation described in Genesis 1 is different than what modern day science says for a reason: perhaps so that we now in modern times do not misread the text as being a science description and thereby miss some bigger point being made within the text. The temple theory (which you alluded to) is an interesting idea for what that bigger point could be. I’m not sure if I fully agree with this idea, but it is interesting to see how the Biblical text contrasts with other Ancient Near Eastern descriptions of creation, which assume that the world was haphazardly/mistakenly created by various gods at battle with each other. In contrast, the Biblical text states that a single God, the only God, created the universe as a place for humanity to live, because He wanted to create us, because He loves us and wanted a relationship with us.

I do agree with you that there should be a historical Adam and Eve, so I do not think that the text is merely figurative/metaphorical. It is hard to make sense of the rest of the Bible referring to them as historical figures if they did not actually exist.

On other threads I also think that you have pointed to other theological challenges that arise as you move away from a literal, young earth, interpretation of Genesis. The theological challenge of death before the Fall is one that is more difficult to address. In my mind, having a historical Adam and Eve in an old earth model helps with that challenge, but I could see how that might still not be fully satisfactory to you.


(1) False. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

(2) You are assuming that a “rule” from your own English language (and American culture) somehow applies to ancient Hebrew, a language where verb tenses don’t even exist and chronology is handled very differently. You should not automatically assume that order of presentation conveys order of chronology.

Have you investigated why so many Biblical scholars disagree with you? Could their knowledge of Semitic culture and language make a difference?

I’m curious how you handle the many chronological incongruities in Genesis 1. (e.g., How do you explain evenings and mornings in YOM one to three if you believe the heavenly bodies were not created until day four?)


No problem. The sun isn’t the source of the blue light in the daytime sky, and that’s what was created on day 1. If science so-called claims otherwise, the word of God disposes.

Days as we know them have to do with the rotation of the earth that God had to set in motion. But obviously Earth wasn’t created until Day 3. There was a period of darkness on Day 1 and then a period of light when light was created. Is there a reason to think God would not have created in a day as He said He did? I don’t see why not from the text. In days 1 and 2, either the matter that existed could spin with the same rotation that the earth would have, until earth was created or God could also create on day 2 within a normal day since He is the one who created time.

Sorry, I was unclear. It was @AllenWitmerMiller saying “everyone should agree.” that got me frustrated.

I’m looking forward to learning more in heaven too. But I’m not quite understanding why it took decades to have a minimal understanding - what parts of a creation process exactly are you referring to? I am curious. I took a few months to gain a very basic understanding of cosmology and really studied relevant Bible passages, and came away with what I thought was a minimal understanding, but maybe I’m not thinking about the depth you are. There’s definitely no way to have complete knowledge.

Yes, this is a really great point :slight_smile:

I agree.

Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts and kindness.

That doesn’t explain the evening and the morning in YOM one and two. Those are words that relate to phenomena one observes from the surface of the earth. You are taking liberties with those words that you appear not to grant to those who interpret YOM differently from you.

Furthermore, how do you establish that YOM is the same semantic domain in English as DAY in English? Moreover, even in English, DAY has meanings other than “a normal day”. (You realize that there are many passages in the Bible where YOM/day does not mean “a normal day.” Right? Do we agree on that?)

Red herring. Here you are simply assuming that your interpretation is the only possible one for what God said he did? How do you know that what God is saying in Genesis 1 is not what countless scholars have described, even though that disagrees with your view?

It is interesting that you are creating an ad hoc interpretation of DAY (based on adjacent matter allegedly rotating at the same speed as what would apply later on after the earth’s creation) in order to side-step the obvious chronological issues in the text.

We agree on that. However, it is not clear how that somehow bolsters your interpretation more than the others.

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I don’t know. Point me to them.

Please list some of these countless scholars so I can understand why they say evening and morning mean something other than one day.

If God created time, surely He doesn’t mean to confuse us by stating evening and morning were a day, and then stating we should work on 6 days because He did and then not actually meaning that.

I think I’m just taking the least confusing interpretation of the text. If someone has a less confusing one, I’d be open to that.

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How about Genesis 2:4 as a reference to all of the creation week?

How about “day of the LORD” used to refer to periods (even years) of God’s actions and interventions, such as in the end times?

I like to use Hosea 6:2 because it refutes the ubiquitous YEC claim that YOM with an ordinal number always refers to a “normal 24-hour” day.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. — Hosea 6:2 (NIV)

And to emphasize that these are not “normal 24 hour days”, the NLT translates the same text more idiomatically without any numbers at all:

In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. — Hosea 6:2 (NLT)

You might want to start with D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, not only because it is a non-technical work which doesn’t require a lot of Hebrew and Greek background but because you will find his many examples of popular fallacies an excellent introduction to why we care about exacting exegesis of the original languages and good hermeneutics. It is probably the introductory primer that I recommend most often to help laypersons understand why good Biblical scholars have to be language and culture scholars.

This may provide a good non-technical introduction to the topic in relation to Hosea 6:2: When is a Day Not a Day? An Exegetical Note on Hosea 6:2 by Robert I. Bradshaw

And here’s a good overall introduction which brings back a lot of fond memories from my younger years working with Gleason Archer and Carl F. H. Henry. Gleason was quite adamant about this topic—and he had a lot of influence because his OT Introduction was a very popular standard textbook in Bible colleges and seminaries for many years. (And if someone hastily decides that Archer must have been a flaming liberal, he was one of the major conservative scholars to leave Fuller Theological Seminary after colleague Harold Lindsell published The Battle for the Bible, which claimed that liberalism had invaded Fuller and various other schools.)

(1) I’m not sure why that would be confusing. Moreover, is it confusing that the Bible says that Jesus is a door, a road, and a lamb? (Which is he? Isn’t he a man?)

(2) Why would the fact that God created time preclude him from making statements which might confuse us/you/someone? Indeed, Jesus said that he spoke many things in hard to understand ways in order to hide the meaning. (Remember how the disciples got very frustrated about that?) I’m not saying that every revelation in the Bible is meant to be confusing. I’m saying that you should not assume that the “easiest” interpretation of a passage—in your view–is automatically the correct one. I’m saying that easy clarity is NOT always the goal.

I too believe the Biblical text says what it means—but that doesn’t prevent finite and fallible humans from misunderstanding it. Secondly, notice the Mosaic Law’s commands to Israel to observe the sabbath YOM as the seventh YOM after six YOM, the sabbatical YEAR after six years, and the Year of Jubilee after seven weeks of years (seven sevens of years.) The purpose is not to emphasize YOM but to emphasize SEVENS as reminding Israel of God’s completed work serving as a pattern for them. (The number seven is the number of completeness.) The exact duration of a YOM in Genesis 1 has no impact on the significance and meaning of those sevens.

Meanwhile, I’ll step back from a more general and didactic approach to YOM and Genesis 1 and mention that I am personally fine with “the YOM in Genesis 1 are basically days in a normal sense”. That is because I view Genesis 1 according to its genera. It is a carefully constructed multi-level set of chiastic structures meant to convey a number of themes, none of which necessarily conform to what someone in the year 2021 might expect of a scientific and chronological presentation. I would compare it to the song lyrics or a poem or other classic literary quotation which might appear in the author’s PREFACE to a book. It sets the tone of what follows and establishes basic themes, in this case a direct refutation of the paganism of neighboring cultures who attributed different realms of the world (e.g. the sea, the moon, the plants) to various deities of a pantheon. No, in Genesis 1, the God of Israel is the sole creator and master of all. Rather than presenting all of that in a “dry” fact-by-fact presentation, Genesis 1 uses a complex literary structure to make profound points in beautiful ways.

I can still remember when a lot of the classic old books one was assigned to read at university started with a passage from Dante, a few lines from a Shakespeare play, or even the Baghadvagita. Could they be misunderstood by a reader thousands of years from today? Yes. (Even so, some would probably demand “the normal and literal meaning” and thereby misunderstand their genres and their purpose within the larger work.)

There are many good reasons why so many Biblical scholars disagree with you about Genesis 1. I would encourage you to explore some of the best exegetical commentaries in order to understand the hermeneutical issues.


Thanks, @AllenWitmerMiller. This makes excellent sense.

It is hard to over-emphasize this point. God wanted Israel to structure its concept of time out of the 6+1=7 structures of days, years, and weeks of years—all as a reminder that God had ordained and blessed these seven-wise cycles of life.

Another important source of potential confusion on this sabbath concept is that people tend to interpret God “resting” from his Genesis 1 creative acts in an overly anthropocentric manner. When humans rest, it is often because labor has tired us. Yet God is not subject to exhaustion nor does he require a period of restoration or sleep.

In English we have a similar sense of the word rest when an attorney finishes presenting his arguments in the courtroom. “The defense rests, Your Honor.” means “I’m finished”. It does NOT mean that the attorney is worn out and needs a much earned nap or recuperation period. The attorney’s presentation of the case has been completed.

Just as God completed his six YOM of creation and is described as “resting” or “ceasing” after his creative acts, Israel was called to observe special cessations of various kinds of activities in periods of seven years, weeks of years, and weeks or weeks of years. Indentured servants were freed from service in sabbatical years. Family-birthright lands were restored to the original family owner in those sabbath years. Lands were left to lie fallow in the seventh year.

Notice that the sabbatical year in Hebrew is SHEVI’IT, which literally means seventh.

Living life in cycles of sevens kept the Children of Israel constantly mindful that God had established those sevens and that living according to sevens was fundamental to their obedience to God in the Sinaitic contract, aka the Sinaitic Covenant.

Oops. I guess this tangential topic has seriously departed from the OP’s turf of discussing correlations between human substance and dirt.


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