From: "The World Peace Prophecies: The Unification of Science,
Religion, and Humanity," donated by its author, Monte Benson
Part 5: The Earth’s Age and the Science of Genesis 1:
The meaning of "day." Science & the creation week.
This essay is a continuation of Part 4
In this essay, "bya" is an acronym for "billions of years ago"
Genesis 1: The Meaning of ‘Day:’
"The Genesis Question," by Hugh Ross, goes into far greater detail concerning the science behind the six days of creation, but here are some of the basics:
The Hebrew word 'yowm' — translated as “day” in Genesis 1 — can also mean “a long period of time,” “eon,” or “era.” Yes, almost everywhere else in the Bible where yowm is attached to an ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) it indicates a 24-hour day. However, Isaiah 9:14 and Hosea 6:2 make it certain that even when it is attached to an ordinal it can still refer to indefinite periods of time.
It is true that many Bible scholars point to the expression “and there was evening and there was morning” (NIV) to indicate each creation day was a literal 24-hour period. Yet, according to them, the Bible states that the sun was not created until day four. So how could there be evening and morning without it? Not only that, if you look at the Hebrew words involved, they do not necessarily mean “morning and evening.”
Look for instance at Psalm 90:6. It says in reference to grass: “In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away.” Yet, because the life cycle of grass is longer than 24-hours, an evening and morning here must be much longer than one literal day. Thus the Hebrew phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” in Genesis 1 might be referring to a non-literal morning and evening. And thus “and there was evening and there was morning” may be a reference to the “setting” of one age and the “dawning” of another. 1
Yet, another possibility comes from Daniel 8:26, which says, “The vision of the evenings and mornings . . .” (NIV). What we find here is the same Hebrew phrase that is found in Genesis 1. It actually reads singular like this, “evening and morning.” Thus this suggests that Genesis 1 when closing a creation day should read, “And there were evenings and there were mornings—the [e.g., first] day.” 2
Still, there is another possibility. When Genesis 1 says that God created the universe and the earth in just six days, it may have meant so literally. This is because it could be referring to cosmic time, not ours. According to this concept, on day one about 9 billion years our time was only 24-hours on the cosmic clock. Then, on day two, cosmic time went faster, so that hundreds of millions of years our time was 24-hours on the cosmic clock, and so on. This is based on the fact that when the cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang is used as a light clock six 24-hour days have passed from the first creation event until the time of Adam. 3
However, regardless of how it is interpreted, Genesis 1 shows us that God did not create the entire 13.7 billion year future completely on day one and then sit back and watch it all happen, although it seems that He made a rough outline then without detailing completely the creation of certain things (e.g., fruit trees) until long after. The truth is that God may not have had perfect control of the universe at the beginning of day one. This is because, as explained in Chapter 1, God had to learn.
The Creation Week and Science:
Although Genesis 1 leaves many details out of the story, there is still enough detail to test the account against modern science. After having done so, it has become clear to some scientists that Genesis 1 passes the test perfectly. For, as you will see next, its sequence and description of events match the sequence and description of events that scientists state occurred over the last 13.7 billion years! 4 The reason this is amazing is because the Book of Genesis was written over three thousand years ago. (Note: unless otherwise noted, the following quotes are from the KJV.):
- Day One: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Thus the Big Bang burst forth from a point via God’s creative power, and then, electromagnetic radiation, subatomic particles, and atoms formed followed by suns, galaxies (13 bya), and planets. Our sun (5 bya) and its planets were formed from the remains of parent stars that had went supernova long before. 5 Earth then cooled from a molten state. At this point it had a thick atmosphere and was covered with boiling waters and volcanic islands. It was void of life and a wasteland. This is why Genesis 1:2 states, “And the earth was waste and void . . .” (ASV).
Hugh Ross tells us that originally earth’s atmosphere was opaque, and thus, when God was “hovering over the face of the waters” on day one, only darkness could be seen from the surface of the earth. It is thus for that reason that the Bible says “darkness was upon the face of the deep” on day one (Genesis 1:2). But then something happened. Around 4.5 bya, due to the impact of an object about the size of Mars, most of this opaque atmosphere was blown into outer space, after which the debris from the impact became our moon. This is important because it caused earth’s atmosphere to become translucent, which allowed the first visible light to reach earth’s surface, thereby bringing on day and night. 6 This is why Genesis 1:3-4 says, “And God seeth the light that it is good, and God separateth between the light and the darkness” (YNG). So, because the Hebrew word 'badal,' translated “separateth,” can also mean “distinguish,” this suggests that God distinguished between, or looked upon the difference between, the light and the darkness. 7
Day Two: The earth became completely covered with clouds above and water covered the surface of the earth below. The atmosphere was still translucent. Genesis 1:6 says: “And God said, ‘Let there be space between the waters, to separate water from water.’ And so it was” (NLT). The water above was the clouds, and the water below was the ocean, which covered earth’s entire surface. 8 It was thus on this day that the water cycle began, with its high degree of fine-tuning testifying to the reality of a Creator. 9
- Day Three: “God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas’” (Genesis 1:9-10 NIV). Thus on this day the first supercontinent appeared (1.1 bya), 10 thereby dividing the waters from the waters, which had begun to teem with blue-green algae and other single celled life forms (2.7 bya). Also, towards the end of this day the first land plants appeared (650 mya). 11 The Hebrew words used in Genesis 1:11-12 to describe them are zera’, ‘es, and peri. 12
- Day Four: At the very beginning of this day God caused the sun, moon, and stars to become visible from earth’s surface, as the atmosphere went from translucent to transparent.13 Also, on this creation day, due to photosynthesis, oxygen in the atmosphere reached levels similar to those we have now.14 Genesis 1:14-19 does not say that the sun, moon, and stars were created on this day. God simply said, “Let there be lights in the sky.” This means that—from the perspective of one standing upon the earth—the sun, moon, and stars appeared in the sky for the first time. Although they were there all along, from God’s perspective on the earth they were not seen until the fourth creation day. Verses 16-18 simply remind us that it was God who created the sun for light during the day and the moon and the stars for light during the night. 15
- Day Five: Due to God’s creative power the Cambrian Explosion occurred (543 mya). 16 Mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and amphibians were formed, specially mentioned in Genesis 1:20 using the Hebrew word 'sheres.' 17 The first reptiles were also created on this day around 340 mya, whereas the first dinosaurs were created later around 250 mya. Furthermore, in verses 20-21, the Hebrew word ‘owph' is used, which can refer to winged insects or to birds. Winged insects were first created around 360 mya and birds around 206 mya.
- Day Six: On this day, land mammals (for instance livestock, small animals, and wildlife), sea mammals (52 mya), hominids, and finally humans were created. 18
This idea that the days of creation each lasted longer than 24-hours was also taught by many of the early Church Fathers (Irenaeus, Origen, Aquinas, and others). 19 The idea that God made the earth look billions of years old to test our faith makes no sense. God is a God of truth and to lie to us with His creation would contradict His character. Genesis 1 states that after the creation of Adam and Eve the sixth creation day ended. According to Hugh Ross, the first humans appeared around 42,000 to 60,000 years ago. 20 But as you will see in the next chapter, Adam was born in 4000 BCE 21
You are probably aware of the fact that God rested on the seventh day. Because of this, early Christians and Jews rested on the seventh day of the week. Does this prove, then, that God’s creation week had to be six 24-hour periods because these faiths rest for a 24-hour period every Sabbath? Absolutely not. The Old Testament mentions that there was a yearlong Sabbath every seven years. Does this mean the six periods of creation had to have taken six years? Of course not. The seven days of Genesis 1 are simply seven periods of time, and this pattern of seven is then reflected in our workweek today.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Rich Deem, “Biblical Evidence for Long Creation Days,” God And Science.org, September 21, 2007, Retrieved from: http://www.godandscience.org/ 28 January 2003
- Dr. Otto J. Helweg, P.E., “How Long an Evening and a Morning?” Facts and Faith, Vol. 9, no. 5, 1995, pp. 8-9.
- Schroeder, The Science of God, 50, 67-69
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 29-57
- Richard H. Sanderson and Philip S. Harrington, The Illustrated Timeline of the Universe: A Crash Course in Words and Pictures (Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2006), 4-6, 8.
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 30-33
- James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), 322.
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 36
- Ibid., 23, 30-31, 33
- Ron Redfern, Origins: The Evolution of Continents, Oceans and Life (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001), 5.
- Cameron Slayden, “Creation Timeline Chart,” Reasons to Believe (2008), Retrieved from: http://www.reasons.org/ 19 December 2008
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 37-39
- Hugh Ross, Ph.D., “New Discoveries Affirm Genesis Events and Timing,” Facts and Faith, vol. 10, no. 3, 1996, Retrieved from: http://www.reasons.org/ 3 December 2004
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 45
- Ibid., 42-45
- Cameron, “Creation Timeline Chart,”
- Ross, The Genesis Question, 47
- Cameron, “Creation Timeline Chart”
- Deem, “Biblical Evidence for Long Creation Days”
- Ross, More Than a Theory, 188, 190
- For other chapters of this book, see: "The World Peace Prophecies: The Unification of Science, Religion, and Humanity," at: http://www.angelfire.com/
Originally posted: 2012-OCT-13
Author: Monte Benson
Source: "The World Peace Prophecies: The Unification of Science, Religion, and Humanity," Chapter 4, at: http://www.angelfire.com/