IV. THE "DAYS" OF GENESIS MAY INVOLVE LONG PERIODS
Other orthodox Christians believe that the "days" of
Genesis 1 may involve significant periods of time. They offer two
lines of evidence in support of this view: biblical and scientific.
30. What is the biblical evidence for long days in Genesis?
There are many indications within the text of
Scripture to support the belief that the creation "days" were longer
than twenty-four hours. The following are those most often given in
support of this position.
The fact is that the same word that can mean
twenty-four hours also often means a longer period of time. First of
all, "day" sometimes means a prophetic day; that is, a future time
period of differing lengths, as in "the day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31;
cf. 2 Peter 3:10). Furthermore, as we have seen, 2 Peter 3:8–"A day is
as a thousand years"–is based on Psalm 90:4: "A thousand years in your
sight are like a day that has just gone by." As with any other word,
the meaning of the word day must be determined by the context
in which it is used. In many contexts, "day" means much more than
twenty-four hours. It can mean thousands, or even more.
Even in the creation passage, yom is used of
a period of time longer than twenty-four hours. Summing up the entire
six "days," the text declares: "This is the history of the
heavens and earth when they were created, in the day [yom] that
the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Gen. 2:4 NKJV). "The day"
here means six "days," which indicates a broad meaning of the word
day in the Bible, just as we have in English.
Everyone agrees that it has been at least thousands
of years since the time of creation, yet the Bible declares that God
rested on the seventh day after His six days of creation (Gen. 2:2-3).
According to the book of Hebrews, God is still in His Sabbath rest
from creation (4:3-5); hence, the seventh day has been at least six
thousand years long, even on the shortest of all the chronologies of
On the third "day," God not only created vegetation,
but it grew to maturity. The text says that on the third day "the land
produced vegetation; plants bearing seed according to their
kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their
kinds" (Gen. 1:12, emphasis added). To grow from seeds to maturity and
produce more seeds is a process that takes much longer than a day, a
week, or even a month for most plants. There is no indication in the
text that its growth was anything but natural; it is its
origin that was supernatural.
It would also appear that the sixth "day" of
creation was considerably longer than a solar day. Consider everything
that happened during this one "day."
First, God created all the many hundreds (or
thousands) of land animals (Gen. 1:24-25).
Second, God "formed" man of the dust of the earth
(Gen. 2:7). This Hebrew word (yatsar) means "to mold" or
"form," which implies time. Yatsar is used specifically of the
work of a potter (cf. Jer. 18:2f.).
Third, God said, "I will make a helper
suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18, emphasis added). This indicates a time
subsequent to the time of the announcement.
Fourth, Adam observed and named this whole multitude
of animals (Gen. 2:19). As Robert Newman noted, "If every one of the
approximately 15,000 living species of such animals (not to mention
those now extinct) were brought to Adam to be named, it would have
taken ten hours if he spent only two second on each." This is hardly
enough time for Adam to study each animal and determine an appropriate
name for it. Assuming a minimum of only two minutes each, the process
would have taken six hundred hours (or twenty-five days).
Fifth, Adam searched for a helpmate for himself,
apparently among all the creatures God had made. "But for Adam no
suitable helper was found" (implying a time of searching) (Gen.
2:20, emphasis added).
Sixth, God put Adam to sleep and operated on him,
taking out one of his ribs and healing the flesh (Gen. 2:21). This too
involved additional time.
Seventh, Eve was brought to Adam, who observed her,
accepted her, and was joined to her (Gen. 2:22-25).
In conclusion, it seems highly unlikely that all of
these events–especially the fourth one–were compressed within a
twenty-four-hour period or, more precisely, within the approximately
twelve hours of light each day afforded.
31. What is the scientific evidence for long days in Genesis?
In addition to the biblical evidence for long
periods of time, there are scientific arguments that the world has
existed for billions of years. The age of the universe is based on:
(1) the speed of light and the distance of the
(2) the rate of expansion of the universe;
(3) the fact that early rocks have been
radioactively dated in terms of billions of years;
(4) the rate that salt runs into the sea and the
amount of salt there, which indicates multimillions of years.
While all of these arguments have certain unprovable
presuppositions, nonetheless, they may be true and, hence, point to a
universe that is billions rather than thousands of years in age.87
32. What conclusions have we reached regarding Creation and Time?
Given the basics of modern physics, it seems
plausible that the universe is billions of years old, and as shown
above, there is nothing in Scripture that contradicts this. With that
in view, the following conclusions are appropriate:
(1) There is no demonstrated conflict between
Genesis 1 and 2 and scientific fact.
(2) The real conflict is not between God’s
revelation in the Bible and scientific fact, it is between some
Christians’ interpretation of the Bible and many scientists’
theories about the age of the world.
(3) A literal interpretation of Genesis is
consistent with a universe that is billions of years old.
(4) Since the Bible does not say exactly how
old the universe is, the age of the earth should not be a
test for orthodoxy. In fact, many orthodox scholars have held the
universe to be millions of years old or more (such as Augustine,
B. B. Warfield, C. I. Scofield, John Walvoord, Frances
Schaeffer, Gleason Archer, Hugh Ross, and most of the leaders of
the movement that produced the famous "Chicago Statement" 
on the inerrancy of the Bible.
33. Which holds more authority in settling matters concerning
creation: the Bible or nature (science)?
If God, the Creator, is responsible for the words
of the Bible then nature’s record, as correctly interpreted
through scientific study, should never disagree with the words of
the Bible, as correctly interpreted through theological
study. In fact, the Christian view is that God has revealed Himself
to man not only through special revelation, but also through His
creation. [Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:20] If there is a disagreement
between science and theology, it is due to a faulty interpretation
from either one or both accounts. If after careful reexamination of
both interpretations, the scientific record and the Bible do not
agree, it would be fair to conclude that the Bible is not true.
However, if after careful re-examination of both interpretations,
the Bible is found to be true, our only rational response is to
embrace its message and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and
acknowledge Him as having control over our lives.88
34. How did the "big bang" model emerge as the best explanation for
the origin of the universe?
The big bang has not been declared to be a fact,
with the subsequent theories designed to demonstrate how it
occurred. The big bang has emerged as the model for the universe’s
beginning through arduous testing with the oscillating universe and
steady state theories (and others) falling by the wayside.89
Furthermore, the big bang model has gained wide-scale acceptance in
spite of its clear theological implications. These theological
implications are prompting some workers to come up with alternatives
to the big bang. The big bang is withstanding these challenges.90
Those scientists who do oppose the big bang, do so for philosophical
more so than for scientific reasons.91
Has research stopped in cosmology because the big
bang reveals the necessity of a Creator? Hardly. Given the most
recent discoveries in cosmology regarding the universe’s
transcendent beginning (i.e. independent of matter, energy, space
and time), the design features of the universe and the research
supporting the anthropic principle, it is odd that many scientists
resist appealing to supernatural causes to explain phenomena in the
material world. This refusal is an a priori philosophical
position. It is not a demand of the scientific process. In fact,
nearly all of the earliest modern scientists, were first, and
foremost, Christians. These early pioneers gave birth to and
nurtured modern science because of their Christian world-view.92, 93
35. Isn’t the "big bang" contrary to the biblical account of creation?
Most science textbooks that address cosmology
credit Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson with the discovery that the
universe arose from a hot big bang creation event. While it is true
that they were the first (1965) to detect the radiation left over
from the creation event,94 they were not the first scientists to
recognize that the universe expanded from an extremely hot and
compact state. In 1946 George Gamow calculated that nothing less
than the universe expanding from a near infinitely hot condition
could account for the present abundance of elements.95 In 1929
observations made by Edwin Hubble established that the velocities of
galaxies result from a general expansion of the universe.96
Beginning in 1925 Abbé Georges Lemaître, who was both an
astrophysicist and a Jesuit priest, was the first scientist to
promote a big bang creation event.97
The first direct scientific evidence for a big
bang universe dates back to 1916. That is when Albert Einstein noted
that his field equations of general relativity predicted an
expanding universe.98 Unwilling to accept the cosmic beginning
implied by such expansion, Einstein altered his theory to conform
with the common wisdom of his day, namely an eternally existing
All these scientists, however, were upstaged by
2500 years and more by Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and
other Bible authors. The Bible’s prophets and apostles stated
explicitly and repeatedly the two most fundamental properties of the
big bang, a transcendent cosmic beginning a finite time period ago
and a universe undergoing a general, continual expansion. In Isaiah
42:5 both properties were declared, "This is what the Lord says—He
who created the heavens and stretched them out."
The Hebrew verb translated "created" in Isaiah
42:5 is bara, which has as its primary definition "bringing
into existence something new, something that did not exist
before."100 The proclamation that God created (bara) the
entirety of the heavens is stated seven times in the Old Testament
(Genesis 1:1; 2:3; 2:4; Psalm 148:5; Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; 45:18).
This principle of transcendent creation is made more explicit by
passages like Hebrews 11:3 which states that the universe that we
humans can measure and detect was made out of that which we cannot
measure or detect. Also, Isaiah 45:5-22; John 1:3; and Colossians
1:15-17 stipulate that God alone is the agent for the universe’s
existence. Biblical claims that God predated the universe and was
actively involved in causing certain effects before the existence of
the universe is not only found in Colossians 1 but also in Proverbs
8:22-31; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; and 1
The characteristic of the universe stated more
frequently than any other in the Bible is its being "stretched out."
Five different Bible authors pen such a statement in eleven
different verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24;
45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1. Job
37:18 appears to be a twelfth verse. However, the word used for
"heavens" or "skies" is shehaqîm which refers to the clouds
of fine particles (of water or dust) that are located in Earth’s
atmosphere,101 not the shamayim, the heavens of the
astronomical universe.102 Three of the eleven verses, Job 9:8;
Isaiah 44:24; and 45:12 make the point that God alone was
responsible for the cosmic stretching.103
36. What do the words in the biblical creation account tell us about
the creation of man?
The creation account of man in Genesis 1:26-27
states, "Let us make (asah) man in our image, in our likeness,
and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,
over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures
that move along the ground. So God created (bara) man in his
own image, in the image of God, he created (bara) him; male and
female he created (bara) them.
The words in parentheses are the ancient Hebrew
words that are translated into English as the word create. The Hebrew
definitions of these words have direct bearing on this discussion.
Asah—to make, create. It
is used in the sense of fashioning an already created object.
Bara—to create, bring
about, to bring into existence out of nothing. Indicates a new
creative act not a refashioning of an existing object.
The creation of man is described using two different
verbs in the Hebrew. One verb (asah) means to fashion using a
substance already in existence. The other verb (bara) means to
bring something into existence that never existed before. We would
suggest that the verb asah accounts for man’s biochemical and
morphological similarity to other primates.104
While the verb bara considers man’s unique qualities, such as
awareness of absolute right and wrong, concern about death and beyond,
a tendency towards worship of that which is outside of nature, and
self-awareness. These spiritual qualities cause man to bear God’s
image and give man his unique standing among all living creatures in
the animal kingdom. They were unique, miraculous creations of God,
created as fully developed human beings, with DNA distinct from any
creature. While humans may have shared physical similarities with
other creatures, they were not simply hominids with a spirit.
What has the fossil record taught us about hominids?
The dates and ages of the hominid fossils are not
widely disputed in the scientific community. We share this view. We
do not take the position that the examples of Nebraska Man
and Piltdown Man call into question the validity of the entire
hominid fossil record and the existence of the now extinct bipedal
hominids. In fact, we will demonstrate that the reality and
reliability of the fossil record, along with work in molecular
genetics provides powerful support for the biblical scenario for the
origin of humans and call into question the evolutionary scenario.
It is widely acknowledged that the fossil record
is incomplete. Yet many paleontologists hold that while incomplete,
the fossil record is generally adequate enough to discern patterns
such as stasis and absence of gradual evolutionary trends.105
38. How big a problem is bias among scientists and theologians when it
comes to the creation/evolution questions?
At the end of the day, we all have biases that we
bring to the table. No scientist is completely objective. Honest
scholarship demands that these biases be clearly communicated and
taken into consideration at all times.