Despite modern attempts to create “novel” hermeneutical approaches that metaphorize what seems very much like a historical narrative, the plain historico-grammatical understanding of Genesis is one of 7 24-hour days of creation. Here’s a basic list of the arguments, pulled from this decent book, Old-Earth Creationism on Trial by Tim Chaffey.
1. “Yom” in this context is a 24 hour day.
The Hebrew word transliterated “yom” is very similar to our word “day,” in that it can mean the daytime, a 24 hour day, or a period such as “in my day.” In order to understand how it is being used, we must look at the context.
The 24-hour interpretation here is especially clear because each day is associated with a number (ordinal or cardinal), and most of the days are accompanied by the phrase “morning and evening.” This latter elocution would not be associated with eons of time, nor with the daylight hours of a single day.
Wheaton College old earth professor Dr. Pattle Pun stated it this way:
It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science [sic], is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith. 1
2. Direct analogy with the sabbath rest
In the book of Exodus where many of the commandments of God are explained to the Hebrews, the author explains the logic for the Sabbath this way:
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11 NKJV)
It doesn’t make much sense to refer back to thousands or millions of years per epoch as “days” and then suppose that God rested in the seventh epoch, then turn around and analogize with seven 24-hour days. Also, is God still resting? Are we still in the 7th epoch? What marked the end of that epoch?
3. Adam and Eve were created at the “beginning of creation”
When Jesus mentioned Adam and Eve in his teaching on marriage, he said this:
But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6 NKJV)
If Adam and Eve were created millions of years after the beginning of creation, how could Jesus say “from the beginning of creation”? If Adam and Eve were created on a literal sixth day, that would be sufficiently near the beginning. But billions of years later? It wouldn’t even be close.
Note that some have tried to explain this as “the beginning of the creation of marriage.” But the text does not support that contention at all.
A similar elocution can be seen in the book of Romans:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made… (Romans 1:20a NKJV)
Who is expected to see these things since the beginning? Not God, and not angels. Men are without excuse because mankind has seen these from the beginning of creation.
4. Plants could not survive an epoch of darkness before the sun was created
If plants were created in the third epoch of millions of years, but the sun did not yet exist, how long do you think they would last? It makes much more sense for them to be created in one day and then within 24 hours the sun was there to feed them.
5. Uniformitarian assumptions are part of an anti-theist position
Surprisingly, scriptures do allude to the assumption of uniformitarian philosophy, i.e. the assumption that all the current processes we observe have not changed, and that cataclysms like the expansion of the universe or a global flood do not significantly affect the interpretation of astronomical and geological timelines. It condemns the uniformitarian assumption as a method for denying the truths of God themselves!
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4 NIV)
Admittedly, applying this to scientific assumptions about natural processes is a little bit of a stretch on the context of denying the return of Jesus, but the analogy is worth considering. How many hold to an old-universe model because of assumptions that preclude a global flood, or a young universe interpretation a priori? Many are quick to suppose they are relying on science, but have they examined not only the assumptions made, but their own bias against any counter-arguments? Have they examined the data themselves, or are they merely appealing to authority? Each individual must ask themselves these questions, if they are able.
These are just some simple and straightforward arguments. They have nothing to do with science, although there are good arguments for a young universe from science. But proper interpretation of scripture seems to support the young universe interpretation. There is a little if anything in these passages indicating eons of time, and assuming ages instead of days is not exegeted from the text, but eisegeted into the text attempting to make it conform with contemporary science. The Church should have learned that from their experience agreeing with the geocentric model as well as the static universe, both of which were incorrect scientific proposals. May we understand that the scriptures are true and do not need to be twisted to match the ever changing assumptions of origins science and uniformitarian assumptions.
- Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:14, 1987. ↩