The Question, “How long were the days of Genesis chapter one?”

  • Young earth creationists view the days of Genesis chapter one as literal 24-hour days, while old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists view them as long ages of time (possibly millions of years).
  • The plain reading of Genesis one, and the most natural interpretation of the Hebrew text, is that “day” refers to a literal 24-hour period of time.
  • Genesis one uses the Hebrew word yom for “day”. In each of the creation days of Genesis one yom is accompanied by a number (“first day”, “second day”, etc.) and paired with the words, “And there was evening, and there was morning”. Everywhere else in the Bible where yom is used this way it refers to a literal 24-hour day.
  • Had God wanted to communicate that creation took place over long ages of time there are many other, and better, Hebrew words he could have used. However, God used the construct described above.
  • The pattern of a six-day work week followed by a seventh day of rest (the Sabbath), which was given by God to Israel as a sign and commandment (Exodus 20:11, 31:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:15), only makes sense in light of God creating and resting over a period of seven literal 24-hour days.
  • Christians who seek to redefine the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis one to accommodate long ages of time typically do so because they believe there is tension between God’s word and modern-day science. This accommodation is unnecessary, however, as the Bible is not at odds with science, but only an interpretive framework of the science.
  • As Dr. Ron Carlson once said, “Wherever we explore, whether it be the macrocosm of astronomy, or the microcosm of biochemistry, wherever we discover truth, it is always consistent with God’s nature and God’s word, the Bible. There is no contradiction.”

For more information on the days of Genesis and the age of the earth, please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, Evolution vs. Creation available in CD or MP3 in our online store.