49 thoughts on “Why Genesis days are not 24-hour days

  1. On day one there could be no 24 hour period style day. The rest of the two accounts make both of them seem ludicrous. Why believe any of it at all? Why not just pass it off as allegory? Start with god created ‘stuff’ and leave it at that? Why be specific at all? When will an apologist explain that specificity?

    1. For people, like me who believe in an old earth creation, we do not treat the account being strictly literal but that does not mean we treat it as false. The point is to reconcile scientific evidence with our understanding of the scriptures. The point of the genesis account is creation itself, not the mechanics of how it was done and that is where most people tend to differ in opinion. To the people living 3500 years ago, the scientific explanations would not even make any sense. They wrote what they perceived best.

      And science is always correcting itself, which is a nice thing since we are in pursuit of truth. 60 years ago, science held that vegetation could not grow without photosynthesis. Now we know that is false. Better evidence leads to better understanding and so we also try to understand better. whats wrong with that?

      I believe because to me it logically makes sense that God is behind the scenes.

      1. I see that modern science has made an impact on you. Why then would anyone even begin to believe that any supernatural beings can exist, never mind the god of your holy text? What is the driver for that belief? Why even go there?

      2. Thank you for the disscussion.

        Well, I am no exception there are many people who believe the same, they are just not very vocal about it. But, consider, Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. John Lennox, William Lane Craig, not to mention Dr. Francis Collins who is heading the human Genome project.

        Yes, you are right, lets leave God out of it, what makes one think that a God even exists? Personally, I think that the laws of physics are remarkable, they are also consistent and they have for some reasons not changed. Similarly, I can not comprehend that such precise and persistent laws came from random chance. Even if I concede that the multiverse is true (which we still do not have any evidence of), that just gives us a probability that these law can exist in one galaxy or solar system, that however still does not give us the idea that how did these law originate and for what purpose. For example for the multiverse to be true, the laws of physics have to predate them, even if in multiverse they behave differently across various universes, that is irrelevant to the point.

        For you to remotely control your t.v you need a remote control, but realize that the necessity of the control predates the invention of the remote itself. You would make one because there is a need. And unless matter has a sentience like us, I do not suppose how it could conclude and formulate laws by itself, if it did at all, that is.

        By the way, how did matter originate? whats your take on it?

      3. Your inability to consider that life has no purpose is hubris. In this you assert that something exists to explain what you feel must exist without any evidence to support either. I have posted about ‘The Big Splash’ to explain a bit of what I feel is possible. WLCraig is wrong. He makes assertions that he has no evidence for. There is no valid reason to think that what begins to exist has a cause. What agency makes a grain of sand begin to exist? What proof have you of this explanation? How do you get to god as the cause without simply giving up and using god as an excuse for lack of understanding?

        When you explain that you personally know how to best interpret the book of Genesis you tell us that a perfect, omnipotent , omniscient god did not do a good enough job, and that we need your interpretation to understand your perfect god’s words. How does that work exactly? Are you a prophet?

        The origination of matter requires an understanding of matter. Could it be that matter is simply one of the many states of decay of energy? Read my post on ‘The Big Splash” and you’ll see what I mean… I hope.

        What you call perfect and incomprehensible laws of physics are exactly not that. They are not perfect nor incomprehensible so your lack of understanding does not infer a deity.

        They are what they are in this universe. We evolved to live in the bubble that is the crusty surface of this planet. Most of the rest of the universe is incompatible with human life. That is not such a fine tuned universe. In fact we are able to survive only in certain parts of this very planet.

        Life as we know it, human life, evolved to fit into the universe as it exists. To think the universe was fine tuned for us is hubris, wishful thinking at best. Further, such thinking ignores all the evidence that humanity has discovered since your holy text was written. That remote control was brought to you by science, not god. When your god of Genesis kicked mankind out of the garden, what did he say? So we did that and now you give your god credit? Seriously?

      4. Hmm, I would like to address a few points and your typical atheist misconceptions which I find mildly degrading but anyways.

        First of all anyone can be wrong, WLC, me and you too. So that’s a no brainier.

        Second, I thought we were not going to discuss God but Why I believe there could be a God. anyway.

        “Your inability to consider that life has no purpose is hubris.”
        When did a logical conclusion became hubris? anything to back this up? I never said life has purpose, can you point to my post my words where I said that to you. I said, laws necessitate function.

        “In this you assert that something exists to explain what you feel must exist without any evidence to support either.”

        And what makes you think that is not the case? Sure we all make assertions we can not prove. Also, its a pretty bald statement saying, I must have God exist in all of my beliefs, typical atheist response, I guess. But since you do not know me, let me inform you, I am not fitting theories to have God fitted in just because I believe he should be. Your big splash article also makes assertion without concrete evidence. The same way you believe that matter in any form has existed always. And you have still not answered why it is so? What makes you think energy just exists, that it did not originate, what evidence you have that is it so? Leave God out, let me, for this argument’s sake concede to you that there is no God, so now, leave God out and explain how could matter/energy does not originate? and if it really originated, how so?

        You are also rushy in misquoting me, I never said the laws of physics are incomprehensible. I said the idea that these laws originated with precision and are not prone to change, is incomprehensible by random chance. If you have absolute, concrete scientific proof to prove why I am wrong, please feel free to share. How did the laws of physics originate?

        I am not a fan of fine tuning and intelligent design so save that.

        “Life as we know it, human life, evolved to fit into the universe as it exists. To think the universe was fine tuned for us is hubris, wishful thinking at best. Further, such thinking ignores all the evidence that humanity has discovered since your holy text was written. That remote control was brought to you by science, not god. When your god of Genesis kicked mankind out of the garden, what did he say? So we did that and now you give your god credit? Seriously?”

        What evidence has humanity discovered? that life evolved, big deal. I already think it did, guess what, I do not find it at any odds with faith. Problem for you is, evolution does not address origins, it addresses descent and change. For evolution to even occur to begin with, it needs a working replication model, only then can it really begin. How can a creature evolve if it never replicates?

        And please keep your “I know better than you” tone for some illiterate bloke you want to impress. I am hardly impressed by misconceptions. Especially if you are assuming without confirmation.

  2. John,

    for some reason this has been on my head yesterday and today.

    people have gone to say “the Sabbath day is saturday” and therefore they keep it holy.

    i do believe its not, a there is no sunday monday tuesday … as it has been categorized by man.

    now having said that,

    your thoughts are exactly why I Jesus prophesy is true. on the 3rd day He will rise again.

    if only Christians will count the number of days, its just 1 and a half. not 3 days.

    so did Jesus failed? nope he didn’t. actually, we failed to understand night and day.

    our idea of time is bounded by what we have been taught in school. and we try to interpret scripture based on what we know.

    I honestly believe, Adam and Eve was in a different time context. we have to remember they were not yet fallen. it could also be possible that Adam named all creatures at once.

    or it could also be possible that their 1 day is actually 1000 days?

    could it be that scientist someday will discover that the entire universe was created in time span of 6000 years?

    brother! this is excellent, mind bending post, as I have been trying to figure out the 3 days prophesy of Jesus “just like Jonah …”. i will look up to this. bible interpret bible.

    – grace and peace

  3. Interesting post. Atheists love to complain about how religious people impose themselves on others, its funny how heated and often personal their arguments get. “Seriously?”, “are you a prophet?”. I’d like to hear an atheist argue without airs of condescension

    1. Thank you for reading.

      Some atheists for various reasons like to degrade others, personal attacks, pathetic one liners. Though on a happy note. I know some very good atheist people who never resort to these kind of debate tactics. Very nice people to talk to. Sadly trash talking atheists are as dumb as trash talking Christians, no big difference and I hope it stops.

      I really get sad when people just assume they know better than you just because they are atheists and since I am a person of faith so therefore I must be dumb.

  4. Hey Rollie :), nice of you to read. I’m glad it helped you. Also if you did not know this, the israelites counted a day from 6-6, on the clock, not from 12 to 12 like we do today.

    On a side note, I would not say that Adam and eve existed in some time which is different than our calculation of time, it is unnecessary to go that far. Look into theistic evolution and Day-age progressive theories they may help you understand more.

    There is plenty of evidence that the universe is not 6000 years old and frankly you do not have to believe in 6000 years to be in Christ. It is just a belief which with time and evidence, we can see to be not a very solid one, anymore. I can relate to a lot of things which science has discovered and we can better understand.

    God bless you bro.

  5. Some very good points here, John, and some I have not seen elsewhere.

    It is interesting to note that a literal 6 day creation is quite a modern idea. Augustine (circa 400 AD) says that no serious Christian thinker in his day believed in such a thing.Nor did it become an issue because of Darwin, but as a reaction to some (bad) German “Higher Criticism” which treated the Scriptures too much as myth and folklore.

    Thanks also for dropping by my blog and for your gracious comment.

    1. You are absolutely right. Augustine did not consider the days of Genesis to be any more than poetic structures for telling the narrative.

      Modern YEC’s have taken a quite extreme stance in some cases. There should be no reason that we let dogmatic teachings to stop learning the natural sciences. I hope Christians as a whole see the importance of it.

      Thank you for reading too, and looking forward to read more stuff from you.

      1. That is at best a good speculation, David. Something which can be debated. Yom throughout the scriptures does not always mean 1 day.

        However if you ask my personal opinion, I would agree that Moses might have believed it.

      2. David, a few points:

        1) Where in Genesis does it say that Moses wrote it? That is a traditional attribution due mostly to the Jewish habit of referring to the Torah as “the books of Moses” but that no more means that he wrote those books than their reference to the books of the prophets as “Elijah” means he wrote all of them.
        2) The form of the two different (and incompatible) creation accounts is poetic, and poetry often gives truth without being literal.
        3) The author(s) did not have our scientific knowledge and would not have understood it if they had, why would God have them write a story they could not understand? What would they have learned from it? As it is, they learned, as we do, that God is the Creator, that we were made (somehow) to be in a relationship with Him, and that we botched it and need help. What more is needed from these texts?

        1. Or, what happened as written, really happened that way. Obviously both sides are speculatory, but, I still have to hold to my position.

  6. Never heard this theory before interesting! I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately and came to the conclusion that time as we know it 24 hours didn’t exist until sin hit this world. For the simple fact that sin = death and without sin time wouldn’t matter. Very interesting… much needed read in my curiosity of time. Thanks for that! Ill take it into my consideration in my studies!

  7. Thank you for dropping by too and welcome. 🙂

    By the way sin does not mean death in all cases, specially if you look at biological sciences.

    The whole point of the genesis narrative is not to set in stone how exactly things happened. And to ascribe to it absolute mechanism is the pitfall in my opinion. Let us learn as we know more, is what I would say.

    To better understand scriptures in light of new evidence is much needed.

    1. That is one way to look at it and is certainly widely believed. But on a side note, just think what this actually means. Genesis 1 says, that man was to populate the earth before sin had entered the world. No-death means, an overflowing planet of humans who never die. Resulting in the loss of vegetation and space very soon, disrupting the natural food chain very soon, Outnumbering all other creatures plus all other creatures growing huge in number. Consider a fly which dies in a few weeks would live forever. Not to mention at one point the land would just not be enough for everyone to even stand.

      Give it some thought . There is plenty more to discuss but we can go slow 🙂

  8. If u take away sin = death, I take it you do not believe the bible to be 100% true? Curious on what u think heaven will be like? Meaning population wise?

  9. I do believe the Bible to be true but what I am not sure about are beliefs formed on words without much credence. Please ask yourself, why does one bacteria eats another bacteria? Why does a shark’s teeth differ from a Goat? was it always like that?

    I would love to believe what you are saying but please can you show me where is it exactly that death as in spoken in genesis is physical death and not spiritual?

  10. Thank you my friend for the post and ping back. I too welcome healthy discussion.

    There are some problems with you analysis. With regards to the vegetation, you assume that becaue the word means they come from seeds, that means God actually planted seeds. But that isn’t what it says. God created the earth with age. Afterall, Adam was not a baby when he was created, he was a man. Now I understand that I am assuming as well, but one must conclude that if he made Adam with age, most likely he made the rest of the earth with age as well. The word day is “yom” which also means a single day of morning and evening. It is clear that it was a 24 hour period.

    1. You are most welcome David. Please feel free to share what you like.

      What do you mean when you say? God created the Earth with age? you mean as in looking old? If you are going to be literal and consistent, you would see that you can not support this, not from scriptures at least.

      Adam is a special creation in my opinion. The word “dasha” in Hebrew does actually mean sprouting out. How does a plant sprout out? obviously from its seed.

      infact the actualy hebrew words are much less than what you read in the English Bible. The actual translation without supporting the language does not include the words “”and there was”, the actualy translation is “”evening and morning ‘n’ day.” And it does not mean that the day is 24 hours. Or if the day was to indicate something new was being created.

      Also Genesis 2:4 treats all of the 6 days of creation as one day.

      We may not agree, I respect that but this is good food for thought.

      1. Yes, I do mean created to be ask if it had been around long enough to mature. Let me do some Hebrew work tonight on your points and get back to you.

  11. I would love to but right now I need to sleep I work night shift so tomorrow some time I will respond. God bless and thanks for the interesting convo!

  12. Could u answer my question about what u think heaven will be like population wise and all with no death in the picture? As compared to what u think the Genesis picture would have been if there was no fall of man? Hmm another good blog for u to write! LoL looking forward to reading ur veiws when I have time tomorrow

    1. I am sure of one thing about heaven and that is, it will be completely different from earth. We would have a different body, not like our present bodies. I do not think heaven is restricted in anyway. Christ said there is ample room up there, so no worries 🙂

  13. What about this for an explanation:
    A) There were only dozens of species at first, not thousands (why is it we already see evolutionary changes in a species of animal within the last one hundred years if it is truly so slow?)
    B) Each day WAS literally a day and WAS literally only a few thousand years ago.
    C) Each day you live today, while you experience it as a day, from an outsider’s perspective (eg/ god) actually is shorter.

    It is the C that is the big one. Imagine if Science dated an object at 1000 yrs ago, but because each day on earth has been getting shorter and shorter from an outsider’s perspective, it actually was created 1000 yrs and 25 days ago?

    You know the scientific evidence that the universe is expanding is based on the acceleration of its expansion? What if the space of the universe is static? What if it is time that contracting instead? Based on this hypothesis what occurred in that first single day in Genesis 1-3 would appear to a human today as occurring over literally billions of years. The second day? Hundreds of Millions. And so on, exponentially.

    It is a rough theory at this stage but something I have been nutting over for a while which would explain a plethora of observable scientific evidence AND the known scientific corroboration of the Genesis account of creation.What do you think?

    1. Unfortunately, greggorton84, your theory won’t work. The reason is that we experience time based, at a fundamental level, based on physical changes and time controls the rate of change in various physical systems. That is to say, the physical (and chemical) processes around us follow the same time as we do. That means that if time is changing, so would the speed of these reactions, and thus the dating techniques would also change to account for that change.

      Thus, if a test showed that an event happened 4 billion years ago, then it happened 4 billion years ago no matter how long those years “really” were.

      If you are simply saying that to God time is different (“a day is as 1,000 years”), then Genesis could be in His days, and there would be no problem with the universe being 14.5 billion years old.

    2. Greg, I would not say it on the first look that this is totally wrong. But there are some problems in the theory, it has to corroborate with facts as well.

      1. There were only dozens of special first.
      You can not prove this. And you can not deny evidence that says otherwise. Even if you say that, you would have to defy hundreds of thousands of species and fossil records. The Cretaceous, the Jurassic and the Triassic and various other periods where what you are saying gets void.

      2. This is based on the poetic expression in psalms that one day is equal to a thousand years, but remember, the poetic expression is no more valid practically then I say that I love my wife with all my heart. My heart does nothing but pumps blood we all know that. It has no feeling sensors on it but in poetic expression it is a means to convey a feeling. The similarity is also no more different than me reading that the earth has pillars or that “the word is a lamp unto my feet”.

      Even Genesis 1 is pure poetry, if you haven’t look at the original Hebrew, you would be surprised to see that it is what is called “parallel poetry”. Because the scribes believed that the words of Torah and the O.T, should reflect beauty. In this way it was also easy to remember too.

      My point is that the poetic expression, which when translated into English, looks like a universal principle of physics, is actually nothing but poetry. A way to say that to God all of our experience is so tiny that God knows it before hand. It is not the age of the period of a day which is being conveyed but God’s everlasting existence and omniscience, so do not fall for that.

      3. I would encourage you to read “A brief history of time” by Stephen Hawking, although an atheist, his book is written for average people so that they could understand, the foundation of physics behind it all. It is a good read and an interesting one too and to top that, just 100 pages long. If you would like to read it, I can send you an e-copy of the book, just let me know.

      I would also encourage you to study, Einstein theory of general relativity. I think its quite good at explaining a lot, even a simplified version would do. Time is not a dynamic entity that contracts or expands. It sounds good but in essence time is the distance traveled by photon particles. As you know, Space time is measured by light particles travelling through space. The math is complex but this why we observe galaxies going farther and farther. Because the light coming from them fades over time. There is much more to it than what I am saying but basically there are various ways to conclude this. You should also study the Doppler effect, it may also help you understand what you are trying to say.

      1. Actually I HAVE read those texts and that is what I am saying, time is something that DOES have relativity, as described by Einstein (and now taught in high schools). I disagree with taking the literal interpretation of Psalms also and what I am trying to suggest is that while time is not changing, out OBSERVATION of past time has changed, so that we observe a change in time that would be observed THEN as a day, from OUR perspective, it would seem like billions of years…

        As for Genesis One being purely poetry, how do you then explain findings such as in the brilliant “Genesis Enigma” (again a work of a non-christian)?

          1. And I agree..I do not believe it is meant to be taken literally either… that did not come into my consideration for the theory… and of course, praise the lord, they all ARE just theories, because luckily the book of Genesis could be complete fiction and it would not change my core views, nor would it if complete non-fiction

  14. I’m back! LoL I’ve been thinking about what David said about an aged earth… why not I’m sure the animals where aged for mating reasons aged plants for seeding purposes and food why would God put man on earth with no food for adam and food for the animals so there’s ur theory for the plants as for naming the animals what u think God stood there with a pen and pad writing each name down… ok here we have a bunny haha God already knew adam saw the animals and knew ok lion is over there etc he didn’t have to think about it. Hmm no physical death because of sin? You answered ur own question with ur question how comes lions teeth differ from goats? Because they eat meat! Back then there teeth might’ve been different because they all ate grass or whatever til sin hit now u have lions eating zebras things change over time evolution of animals and humans in order to survive. Ok what I miss? LoL

    1. on a serious note, when you say, lions teeth were different back then, well then what is it? a guess, to somehow fit the view of 6 days back. How far will you go speculating. Adam named animals without thinking?

      Sharks have not changed since the Triassic, their teeth are almost the same, same is with crocodiles. So when sin entered the lion just jumped on the goat to eat it. well here is a question for you.

      If the teeth of a lion and the goat were the same, why did not the goat jumped on the lion and eat him?

      why does almost all herbivores have same dental profile, and predators have their own dental profile?

      plus did shark eat grass as well?

  15. Honestly I really don’t care about animal teeth I was just guessing never thought about it til u brought it up and honestly I still don’t care it is something which u can argue but you will never know in your earthly body which means nothing compared to the real troubles in the church such as homosexual people are going to heaven cause “God made em that way”

    1. Homosexuality is a different topic and is irrelevant to this discussion.
      Well, if you do not want to look into facts like these that is your choice. But if you do logically follow and answer these question, you would come out at logical conclusions but you will come out against YEC. There is no other answer, if the teeth were the same, why did not the goat attack the lion? why not a zebra eats a hippo? Why are there claws on some and not on others and why did God changed his creation afterwards when the scriptures do not say so, you know their teeth and metabolism and claws etc only after the fall.

      What about porcupine, and the scorpion, did they get their stings just for fun?

      A YEC view cannot hold to true to itself literally and also logically conclude these questions.

  16. At a creation museum I once went to, an exhibitor said that the Hebrew word for day can mean a variety of things including a 24-hour period, a week and an undetermined period of time. (see this link for more on the word YOM in Hebrew: http://bibleq.info/answer/2214/.
    The argument for the undetermined period of time is extremely strong since time as we know it, and a day as we know it was NOT CREATED UNTIL THE 4TH “DAY”!!! “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” – this was on the 4th day (Gen.1:19) So the earth couldn’t have started it’s 24 hour cycle until day 4. Therefore it makes no sense to me to adamently claim that days 1, 2 and 3 were 24-hour cycles!
    Further, we have the definition of “day” in Gen. 1:3 and it is simply “light.” “God called the light ‘day’.” So he had darkness and light separated, one he called “day” the other “evening” but the 24 hour cycle around the sun doesn’t set in for three more of the lapses of light and dark.
    Additionally, WHO can tell me how much time lapsed between these two events?
    (v.1) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” AND (v.3) “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” It was after creating light and darkness that God called it a day – the first day. But how long was “the earth formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (v.2).
    As you say, John, people have READ INTO God’s word that all that happened in Day 1, but it is not connected in the scriptures explicitly that way at all. We read that in. And that could have been what we measure to be billions of years. Furthermore, “the beginning” does not have to be a single event, but could be everything that led up to this story God is about to give us in His word. It’s the beginning of OUR story, certainly not of God, who has always been.
    Ken Ham and the like believe that if you cannot take God’s word at face value in one aspect, it falls apart completely. And I tend to agree with that premise. However, they themselves create a huge context around what is written. They add to the word all sorts of nonsense and want Christians to take that at face value too. How about just opening our minds to the possibilities of what God’s word COULD be saying!

  17. Here’s another take.

    Yes, we all know about “yom” and such. But let’s consider this: Go to a football game, sit in the stands and watch the whole game, from kickoff until the final second. Say it lasts two hours. You looked at your watch at kickoff, and again when the clock hit 0.00. Two hours.

    Now, let’s say two other people were also watching the same game, but one was at the sun and the other in a spacecraft that was circling the earth at near the speed of light. How long would they say the game took? It wouldn’t be two hours; it would be less (by how much I don’t know). Why? Because time passes slower in higher gravitational environments and as speed increases. (We know this from relativity theory, and it’s been proved through experimentation. Clocks on airplanes and spacecraft tick by slower–by billionths of a second–than those on earth). The action on the field would appear to these other observers to be going faster, hence the game over sooner.

    How long was the game? Who is right? All of you are right. Same game, three different measured durations.

    So, if the universe is still expanding (and it is), then there was a point in time when all matter in the universe was in a higher state of density/gravity, and was traveling apart faster than it is now. Time would have moved by far slower than we observe it today, and a “day” in that context would appear to be a long period of time as we look back to it.

    Put another way, consider a car horn beeping each second. As it departs from you, those beeps get further apart. In the car where they are originating, they’re every second. But not to you, who is getting more distant from the source. So also, Genesis says something took a “yom” to accomplish. But that was in a universe that was only a tiny fraction of its current size. What took a “yom” back then looks to be a long period to us.

    1. Sorry, Jack, but your post contains some serious scientific errors. You state that ” there was a point in time when all matter in the universe was in a higher state of density/gravity” but that is not true. It IS true that it was in a state of higher density, but density has little to do with gravity. Gravity depends on mass. Density only comes in because the gravity one experiences comes from the mass that lies between the observer and the centre of mass, With a higher density the same mass squeezes into a smaller volume thus the observer can be closer to the centre.

      But note that this is ONLY true for an observer OUTSIDE the mass. Thus, for instance, the gravity at the centre of the earth is zero, no matter how dense the earth becomes.

      Another problem with your argument is “who is this observer?”. God is everywhere, so ho wit would apply to Him is indeterminate, People (or the perspective they would have if they had been there) would be earth-surface and not solar or near-light-speed (relative to earth).

      Personally, I think the best solution is to accept that the Genesis stories of creation are poetic, not scientific, that they teach us important truths about God, mankind, and our relationship to both God and creation, and that they set the scene, as it were, for the story of salvation that is the focus of the rest of the Bible. Trying to make them “scientific” is unnecessary and a futile exercise.

  18. I would argue with your interpretation of Dasha. It does mean sprout, but it does not necessarily mean from seeds.

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