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Does The Bible Teach That The Earth Was Created In 6 Days Of 24 Hours Each?

Moses wrote his account in Hebrew, and he wrote it from the perspective of a person standing on the surface of the earth. These two facts, combined with the knowledge that the universe existed before the beginning of the creative periods, or “days,” help to defuse much of the controversy surrounding the creation account.

The Hebrew word translated “day” can mean various lengths of time, not just a 24-hour period. For example, when summarizing God’s creative work, Moses refers to all six creative days as one day. (Genesis 2:4) In addition, on the first creative day, “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night.” (Genesis 1:5) Here, only a portion of a 24-hour period is defined by the term “day.” Certainly, there is no basis in scripture for arbitrarily stating that each creative day was 24 hours long.

A careful consideration of the Genesis account reveals that events starting during one “day” continued into one or more of the following days. For example, before the first creative “day” started, light from the already existing sun was somehow prevented from reaching the earth’s surface, possibly by thick clouds. (Job 38:9) During the first “day,” this barrier began to clear, allowing diffused light to penetrate the atmosphere.

On the second “day,” the atmosphere evidently continued to clear, creating a space between the thick clouds above and the ocean below. On the fourth “day,” the atmosphere had gradually cleared to such an extent that the sun and the moon were made to appear “in the expanse of the heavens.” (Genesis 1:14-16) In other words, from the perspective of a person on earth, the sun and moon began to be discernible. These events happened gradually.

The Genesis account also relates that as the atmosphere continued to clear, flying creatures—including insects and membrane-winged creatures—started to appear on the fifth “day.” However, the Bible indicates that during the sixth “day,” God was still in the process of “forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.”—Genesis 2:19.

Clearly, the Bible’s language allows for major events during each “day,” or creative period, to have occurred gradually rather than instantly, some of them even lasting into the following creative “days.”

In fact, at Hebrews 4:1-10 the apostle Paul indicated that God’s rest day was still continuing in his generation, and that was more than 4,000 years after that seventh-day rest period began. This makes it evident that each creative day, or work period, was at least thousands of years in length. As A Religious Encyclopaedia (Vol. I, p. 613) observes: “The days of creation were creative days, stages in the process, but not days of twenty-four hours each.”—Edited by P. Schaff, 1894." - http://bit.ly/156Vanl

Intrinsically, then, and contrary to the amphigory of some Fundamentalists, Genesis does not teach that the universe, including the earth and all living things on it, was created abruptly in the relatively recent past. Rather, the description in Genesis of the creation of the universe and the appearance of life on earth harmonizes with many recent scientific discoveries.

Because of their philosophical beliefs, many scientists reject the Bible’s declaration that God created all things. Interestingly, however, in the ancient Bible book of Genesis, Moses wrote that the universe had a beginning and that life appeared in stages, progressively, over periods of time. How could Moses gain access to such scientifically accurate information some 3,500 years ago? There is one logical explanation. The One with the power and wisdom to create the heavens and the earth could certainly give Moses such exceedingly advanced knowledge. This gives compelling weight to the Bible’s claim that it is “inspired of God.”—2 Timothy 3:16.


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maxximiliann maxximiliann 36-40, M 2 Responses Jun 3, 2013

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Why six days? Why not 4.5 million years or whatever? I think there's a reason that "6 days" was chosen by God to get the message across. Still a mystery, though. Science knows 4.5 million years, Bible scholars know 6 days... but then "with the Lord, a thousand years is like one day, and one day like a thousand years." I pondered this for a long time... what this verse simply means is that the Lord is always present.

I think the Bible is purposely vague about some stuff so that people will ponder it and mull it over... if they are so inclined. People are going to believe what they will believe. The "message" of the Bible has been skewed by many different viewpoints. The one point in this matter is that God created the earth and everything in it.

For instance, how did the brain (so powerful as it is) come into being? This is a most powerful organ in the body that controls all of physical life's functions. But it can also bring us into bondage so that we don't obey the Lord who made this brain.

I'm starting to go off on a tangent about obedience and authority. My apologies, as this isn't the topic at hand.

Thank you for your insightful comments! :)

I'd like to address some of the points you raise:

I. It appears you're committing the fallacy of Presentism. Remember, the Bible was not penned during the 21st century.

II. That's why it's so important for all of us to personally read the Bible for ourselves instead of simply accepting what other claim about it. It's the only way to avoid being deceived by the unscrupulous.

III. Actually, such disobedience is not so much a matter of intellect as it is a matter of attitude. Had Adam and Eve, for instance, been truly grateful for everything their loving Creator had done for them, do you really think they would have betrayed him?

Or perhaps it did mean day and now that we know that's not how it happened we are reinterpreting what the bible says. Is the bible the perfect, unaltered word of God perfectly translated into dozens of languages over the centuries? Is it the work of many different fallible men trying to remember what God told them in a dream? Or is it just maybe mythology?

I. The context makes it clear which of the various definitions of "day" is being employed.

II. No, the Bible has not been perfectly translated over the centuries. The KJV, for instance, contains numerous translation errors that have been corrected by modern Bible editors. Remember, translating texts written in non-extant languages is an extremely difficult task.

III. These fallible men simply served as amanuensis. God is the Bible's author so the thoughts expressed are his, not man's.

IV. Nothing in the Bible is allegorical: http://bit.ly/10y5Qfp

No offense to your religion, but there has been a lot of criticism of Jehova's Witnesses. Just try to keep an open mind.

Believe it or not, Christ prophesied that such criticism would befall his sedulous followers. In effect, Christianity was to be one of the least accepted faiths, not the most: Matthew 10:22, 23; John 15:20; 16:2.

Well he was human so he was bound to make some mistakes, happens to the best of us. Still, it's pretty hard to argue that the 6 days thing was taken literally and the vagueness of it now is a relatively new invention given the fact that we know it took more than a week. So since we know that the Bible is clearly and inarguably not to be taken literally, I'd say it's fair to speculate that the whole thing may be as much myth as Zeus and Jupiter. But as we've agreed earlier, that doesn't mean you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The point to be taken, I think, is forget about Adam and Eve and the tower of Babel and not eating pork, and focus on the message of Jesus which tell us how to treat others, that's all that really matters. Surely if there was a God who wanted us to worship him, he would give us a hand. The old testament appears to be a mix of mythology and history where as the new testament appears to be more philosophical.

@Jena

I. Jesus was more than just a man: http://bit.ly/1bXHhbB

II. Given your strong - but ambiguous - opinions on the matter I'm curious, have you ever read the Bible in full? How many years have you spent studying it?

The Nicene Creed says that Jesus became man, who am I to argue? My opinions seem ambiguous due to the book itself being ambiguous. I have read the Bible in full but I'm not a scholar of it. Since you asked though, I'll ask you what science your university degree is in.

I. The Nicene Creed is a fraud: http://bit.ly/13Y8mua

II. I'm not so sure because my exegesis is far from ambiguous. Maybe you forgot a lot of what you read so long ago?

III. I have been studying and teaching from the Bible for many, many years. It's wisdom has guided me through some truly horrific times and, most important of all, has allowed me to develop a close personal relationship with the most awe inspiring and beneficent being in all reality, Jehovah God. No matter what I've been through - or have been put through - he has always been there by my side guiding me, protecting me and nurturing me.

IV. You forget, though, that Christ's teachings do not exist in a vacuum. They are part of something greater than him. And good thing too! For if he was merely expressing opinion rather than objective truth his teachings would carry no moral force whatsoever.

As such, that Christ grounded his teachings in the teachings of the Bible is a salient and ineludible fact.

The Nicene Creed says that Jesus became man, who am I to argue? My opinions seem ambiguous due to the book itself being ambiguous. I have read the Bible in full but I'm not a scholar of it. Since you asked though, I'll ask you what science your university degree is in.

I. The Nicene Creed declares that, " Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, [is] of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God."

This is a flat-out lie and a gross perversion of what the Bible actually teaches: http://bit.ly/13Y8mua

II. I'm not so sure because my exegesis is far from ambiguous. Maybe you forgot a lot of what you read so long ago?

III. I hold no university degrees. Does that mean you evaluate someone’s argument based on who they are, not on the body of facts and information presented?

Thank you for increasing my vocabulary. haha. :)

I'll take the facts over the degree, as I said I was simply asking because you did the same to me. I'm going to send you a private message about something because I don't necessarily want everyone chiming in on it. I hope that's alright.

Sure, no worries :)

Maxx, ya know you're right, the Christian religion is certainly what's being attacked. Increasingly, I see anti-God statements on Facebook and other places... the anger is intensifying against God and the order of things. Hardly anything anymore do I see about Muslims.

I had a cultural class for my generals in my degree two years ago. It said that Muslims will blend in to their environment, work on fitting in so that they can better reach people for Islam. And it's pretty true, I think... and scary.

I'm not sure why anymore (it's been a long time, and I've been away from God for a long time) why He calls us to separation, but my guess is so that people can see Who He is and that He created this world, indeed this universe to help us weak-minded humans. The Bible says He created us for His pleasure, and that's something that has escaped my attention for a long time, too.

@thejurg

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

If I may ask, where does the Bible teach that God "calls us to separation"?

2 Corinthians 6:17, for one. I'm not at my online bible program right now (that's at home). There are other locations, too. If I read further into this, perhaps it will say that "staying away from the bad example christians" is what it's talking about, because Paul recommended this, too. 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

@thejurg

Thank you for giving me that context. I now better apprehend what you were communicating earlier.

And, yes, it is necessary for those looking to develop a close personal relationship with God to enjoy fellowship only with sedulous Christians: http://bit.ly/14CLCjK

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