Literal Days of Creation

Did God really make everything in six days? Are the days of creation equal to thousands of years? The Hebrew word for day, is “Yom” (יוֹם), and it consistently means a literal day through the bible, so it never equals anything else. The word “Yom” doesn’t change meaning in Gen 1:14 when the sun, moon, and stars were created on day four. Some believers interpret the days as thousands of years and others even suggest each day is two billion years. They are trying to syncretize the bible with naturalism, which is a secular alternative to creation, that denies God’s creative supernatural ability. Scripture doesn’t fit with the billions of years model. One would have to say the earth took billions of years to rotate back then and then sped up to 24 hours sometime afterward. Is that even compatible with what the biblical authors believed?

The shows the bible doesn’t mesh with a naturalism which suggests things gradually formed on their own with no creator over the course of billions of years. Someone could or does it say that God simply evolved everything in a 24-hour day. However, that doesn’t fit with how the animals were created in Genesis since birds and fish appear on day five and land creatures on day six, and naturalism requires that all things formed in the sea and then climbed out of the water and became birds and land creatures, rather than being created in separate domains. Scripture doesn’t imply anything like that, scripture teaches a supernatural God that created everything with his words, naturalism denies such a being could exist and requires that all things formed themselves with the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry despite the fact that abiogenesis (live emerging from non-life) violates the laws and rules related to dissolution, biogenesis, and thermodynamics. More on this conflict with evolution/naturalism and scripture/creation here.

A “day” as we know it today, is defined by the rotation of the earth away from the sun. The word for the day didn’t change when the sun and moon were created, so no one can say the first 3 days had a different meaning. Also, planetary rotation isn’t specifically tied to the sun or any star. All bodies in space rotate, so the biblical day from an astronomy point of view is based on the earth’s 24-hour rotation, and not directly tied to the sun. In addition, if one day is one thousand years then what is a year? This is a logical fallacy since a year is defined as around 365 days, which would mean 1000 years is 365,000 days. So how can a day be equivalent to something that is defined by encompassing it, let alone 1000 of those larger units?

2 Peter 3:8 is often quoted in reference to the concept of “a day equals 1000 years”. Peter isn’t even talking about creation week in that verse, he is talking about God’s patience.

2 Peter 3:8 (NLT) “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

That idea is way out of context for what Peter is saying. Peter is using a metaphor for God’s patience based on Psalms 90:4. Psalm 90 is comparing God’s infinite existence to the shortness of the life spans of living beings on earth and explores how all of the creation withers away over time but God is eternally never changing. Peter said what he said in response to an objection by false teachers that Jesus was never coming back because Christians keep waiting but haven’t seen him yet. Peter’s answer is that God is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18), and he is patient with the fallen world and is waiting for more people to answer the call of salvation and repentance so a remnant of people from all nations can be saved. He explains this in the next verse.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

That last line is consistent with God’s character from Ezekiel 18:23 which says, “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”

It seems hypocritical to believe in the virgin birth, or that Jesus could raise the dead (and was himself raised from the dead), but not that God made Adam from dust on day six of creation like the Bible says. Jesus says that there are two final resurrections yet to come, one for the righteous and one for the wicked in John 5:28-29, and this is repeated in Paul’s letters and in Revelation (1 Cor 15:12-58, 1 Thess 4:13-18, Heb 11:32-35, Rev 20:4-6, & Rev 20:11-15). Resurrection in the Bible is defined as a restoration of life on earth. This is presented as either revival of your old dead body in the grave or reassembly of it from the dust of the earth (for those whose bodies are destroyed or devoured). Since everyone gets resurrected for Judgment Day, then that means God has to reassemble all of the human bodies, including the ones that weren’t preserved, from the dust of the earth. Just like he formed Adam from the dust, and this is clearly a supernatural act. Likewise, the forming of a baby in the womb of a virgin would be a similar supernatural act. Judgement Day is only a day long and if God can reassemble bodies from dust in that one day what is stopping him from creating the first human from dust within a day?

These supernatural actions are not bound to the laws of nature. Hebrews 11:3 says nothing existed as it is until God spoke it into existence, so none of the laws existed until the lawgiver gave them. That means supernatural acts are allowed by God for the formation of the universe and anything he wants to do like virgin birth and resurrections. He is not bound by natural laws, since he created them himself. God can only limit himself, and that is by his own words. The limits he places on himself are on purpose so that he can justly refer to himself as righteous because he meets his own standards. This means God won’t do something that goes against his moral standards and character, like breaking his own covenant. If he makes a promise he will keep it. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful (2 Tim 2:13). So there is no point in trying to explain the forming of humankind by God at creation through natural means because it would violate the laws that uphold the universe for the matter to pop into existence. Yet, the Big Bang model itself implies that the universe has a beginning, but the universe itself can’t create a new reality since it is a creation bound by natural laws, but the maker of all reality is above the limitations of nature itself, and he alone can commit supernatural actions that are beyond what happens in nature.

Hebrew word yom (יוֹם)
The Context of Second Peter
Were the Creation Days 24 Hours Long?
Are a literal six days necessary for Christian theology?
Did Jesus believe in a 6-day creation?
Could God have created everything in Six Days?