The blog Tough Questions Answered has a good five-part series addressing the question “What is the meaning of the word ‘day’ in Genesis?” The posts take a look at reasons why the six days of Genesis 1 are not necessarily six literal consecutive 24-hours days.
Young-Earth creationists have much of the Evangelical world convinced that the Bible requires a young Earth, and that to allow for an old Earth is a compromise of some sort. In reality, it is often the old-Earth Christians who have taken the closest look at what the text actually says and how this fits into the cultural setting of second century BC Israel. There are many instances where it is the young-Earth creationists who are reading more into the text than what it actually says.
Grace and Peace
2 thoughts on “What is a day?”
I am encouraged to read that you have a high regard for scripture. I am disheartened though on your views of the creation account in Genesis. Even if you can stretch “evening and morning the first day” into billions of years, the order of God’s creating will not fit evolution theory. The sun was formed (on the fourth day) after plants (on the third day), and the fish and birds were created on the same day (fifth day) before the land animals (sixth day). To believe in evolutionary theory is to discredit the scriptures. All of that aside, how can God call His creation ‘good’ and then ‘very good’ after Adam was formed, if he came after millions of years of death, bloodshed, sickness and disease? The Bible says death and sickness is a result of sin, Adam’s sin, and therefore could only happen after Adam. Death and sickness, tragedy and pain are a consequence of a broken and cursed world because of sin, and certainly not the mechanism God used to create the universe.
Potter, the point of the day=1000 years sort of discussion is not to specify that each day in Genesis 1 took a certain amount of time, but then leave alone the whole order of things.
The point is to indicate that Genesis 1 is not, and never was, intended to be taken as a literal, I-was-there-with-a-camera sort of way. Genesis 1 is a textbook perfect example of epic literature introductions. In the same sort of way that the Psalms, Isaiah, and Revelation are not trying to convey a video camera sort of description, neither is Genesis trying to do that.
Instead it is a poetic and highly stylized telling that is not intended to tell the truth in a scientific manner, but rather to tell the truth in the same say the Psalms, Isaiah, and Revelation tell the truth – with word images.
Do you say Isaiah was lying when he said the moon would shine as bright as the sun and that the sun would shine seven times brighter when he brought them away from their captivity by the Assyrians? No, though obviously that didn’t happen in a scientific sense. Isaiah is using dramatic word pictures to describe how powerful God is and how wonderful will be the day that the Israelites are returned.
Exact same thing in Genesis – it is dramatic word language to show the mighty power of God and how He is above, beyond, and separate from the created universe, not just a part of it like the typical gods of the time which were part and parcel of the world.