A Day Is a Day Is a Day of Course: Unless That Day Challenges Evolution! Part I

Genesis has been a battleground for some time, and today is no different. This is particularly true of Genesis 1-3, which is the account of the creation and the fall. When I first began studying the Scripture, I recognized the importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, but in retrospect I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of their significance. As I studied other areas of the Scripture and began learning the breadth and depth of God’s revelation, I saw that without the truthfulness and perspicuity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, every major theme of Scripture lay in jeopardy.

Probably the most hotly debated issue is whether or not the days of Genesis 1 are lunar days or indefinite periods of time or even actual days that are representative of longer periods of time. In other words, did God create the world in six days (closely approximating our days) or is the simple language of Genesis concealing a deeper esoteric meaning only fully revealed to scientists quite apart from the Scripture? Even some evangelical scientists like Hugh Ross, who describes himself as a “progressive creationist,” still accept certain cosmological theories as fact and seek to interpret Genesis through that prism.[1]

In doing so, they seem to undermine what is otherwise the clear teaching of Scripture. In this article, I am only addressing the two perspectives mentioned, and I use the term “evolution” to encompass such approaches that undermine interpreting the days in Genesis as a normal day.[2]

The place to start is always the Scripture rather than psychology, sociology, evolution, etc. We should evaluate the teachings of man in light of the unadorned teachings of Scripture rather than seeking to harmonize the Scripture with modern theories about man, God, and His world. I am not against learning from science or other disciplines, but I am against seeking to interpret Scripture in order to harmonize them at the expense of consistent and sound hermeneutics. That is to subjugate the Scripture irreverently to the speculations of man.

This series of articles highlights the strengths of interpreting the word “day” in Genesis chapter 1 as a normal lunar day and answers objections to this normal reading of the text. The first three articles give reasons to support a normal reading of the text, and the last article seeks to address some of the verses used to undermine such reading. I address the issue of starlight travel in two articles on this blog entitled Is Starlight Travel Time Incompatible with the Biblical Account of Creation? Part I & II.

I hope that they will serve as a helpful tool for considering the strength of interpreting the days of Genesis one as normal days.

I Following are reasons for assuming that the word “day” in the six days of creation and one day of rest in Genesis 1 and 2 means a normal day.[3]

1 Genesis 1:5 is the first occurrence of the word “day” in the passage, and it is used in two different senses. The word actually defines itself in the second usage. “God called the light day, yôm,[4] and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:5).

A God calls the light portion in distinction from the dark portion of the cycle “day” whereas the darkness He calls “night.” Of course this is common in both Scripture and modern English, and refers to the light portion of a normal day.

B He then defines the duration of day and night by the phrase “evening and morning” as “one day.” Consequently, one full day includes an evening and a morning (which is the transition between the light and darkness of a day) which means a normal lunar day.[5]

2 “The two words, evening and morning are combined with yôm 19 times outside of Genesis 1. Every time, they clearly mean that particular literal part of a 24-hour day, regardless of the literary genre or context. Also, even when morning and evening occur together without yôm (38 times outside of Genesis 1), it always, without exception, designates a 24-hour day.”[6]

3 Jonathan Sarfati says of the word day, yôm“whenever used with a number or the words evening or morning, it can mean only an ordinary day, never a long period of time.”[7]

The question must be asked, if God wanted to convey that He created the world in eons of time, through a long process of evolution, then why did He speak of creation in such a way that uses all of the normal devices and phrases that clearly picture it as happening in six lunar days? If Genesis contained just one characteristic of a week of real days, for example, the chronology of two partial days, or the word day without the word night, or no ordinals or cardinals, or no light before the first day, a partial rotation or. it might seem plausible that we are stretching it to conclude that God meant real days; however, what we find is a cohesive picture of one week of creation and rest that is supported elsewhere in the Scripture; we find the use of cardinals, ordinals, night, day, evening, morning, rhythmic sequence, chronology, distinction between seasons, days and years v.14, sun for day and moon for night v.16 same words for day and night as previous verses just as one would expect if God meant it to mean real days, a real week, and real seasons. There were Hebrew words at God’s disposal which clearly communicate long periods of time.[8]

Further, if the true identity of these words is indiscernible, where can one find certainty about anything else in Genesis? To wit, if God communicates in such an obfuscatory manner here by employing words, terms, and styles that picture real days but actually mean eons of time whatever is necessary to fit the present theory of time needed to support evolution’s notion of nothing producing everything when coupled with unguided natural selection then why not employ that same abstruse style elsewhere? For example, did God create man distinctly and uniquely, did man really sin, was there a garden to cultivate, was there a flood, law, redemption, crucifixion. or are all of these subjects of the same hazy nature as Genesis 1, thereby making biblical language mean anything and everything and therefore really nothing?

John MacArthur notes, “Their decision to accept the creation of Adam as literal involves an arbitrary hermeneutical shift at Genesis 1:26-27 and then again at Genesis 2:7. If everything around these verses is handled allegorically or symbolically, it is unjustifiable to take those verses in a literal and historical sense. Their belief in a historical Adam is simply inconsistent with their own exegesis of the rest of the text.”[9]

4 “When modified by a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.,) or ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.,) as used 359 times in the Old Testament outside Genesis 1, yôm always means a literal day of about 24 hours, or the light portion of the day-night cycle. In particular, in 189 occurrences, a cardinal number with day (usually the plural yamim) denotes a specific duration of time.”[10]; This fact stands in stark contrast to the supposed indefinite period of time proposed by the day-age theorists.[11]

[1] Any evidence or arguments I make that are not relevant to a particular position should not be considered a misrepresentation of the position, but rather my attempt to consider various views that in one way or another view the days as long periods of time.
[2] Evolution vs. Darwinism: Biologist Jonathan Wells, Ph. D., offers some vital clarifications concerning evolution and Darwinism. He notes, “Evolution means change over time,” “cumulative change through time,” “a change in gene frequencies over generations”. Darwin’s phrase “descent with modification” is ok in a limited sense, (from his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006, 1-2); “Even hypotheses that some closely related species (such as finches on the Galapagos Islands) are descended with modification from a common ancestor are not particularly controversial” (Ibid., 3) and of course no one doubts that. “But Charles Darwin claimed far more than any of these things. In the Origin of Species he set out to explain the origin of not just one or a few species, but all species after the first in short, all the diversity of life on earth. The correct word for this is not evolution, but Darwinism.” (Ibid.)
He then gives three distinguishing characteristics of Darwinism:”(1) All living things are modified descendants of a common ancestor; (2) The principal mechanism of modification has been natural selection acting on undirected variations that originate in DNA mutations; and (3) unguided processes are sufficient to explain all features of living things so whatever may appear to be design is just an illusion.” (Ibid.) Darwin’s theory specifically “applies only to living things. [even though he] speculated that life may have started in some warm little pond but beyond that he had little to say on the subject.” (Ibid., 4; Also see in my book, The Death of Man as Man, under Darwin, where I give examples of statements by him, which either explicitly or implicitly have bearing on the beginning and/or the creator.)
[3] For a full and scholarly handling of the Scripture, science, and objections to Genesis 1 referring to normal days, I recommend the books, “Refuting Compromise” by Jonathan Sarfati and “Did God Use Evolution” by Dr. Werner Gitt; or go to the website http://www.answersingenesis.org/
[4] This is the Hebrew word for day.
[5] The argument that because the sun was not created until the fourth day prohibits these days from speaking of the normal lunar day cycle seems to be without merit. God can and does make light without the sun (Revelation 21:23-24). In Genesis, God created light v.3; in v.14 God institutes a new order via a secondary source for dispensing light. The only necessary requirements for having the day and night cycle is that the earth is rotating and light is coming from one direction.
[6] Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Green Forest, AR.: Master Books, Inc., 2004), 81.
[7] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 67.
[8] Ibid., 327.
[9] John MacArthur, The Battle For the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam (USA: W Publishing Group, 2001), 19.
[10] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 74. Also see his handling and my later comments concerning the supposed exceptions to this statement in the fourth article in this series.
[11] The day age theories view each of the six days of Genesis 1 as extended periods of time rather than normal days, which allows for the passage of time inherent in Darwinism.

Ronnie W. Rogers