Was the world created in six literal days?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether the world was created in six literal days is a topic that has been debated within Christian circles. The belief in a literal six-day creation, as described in the book of Genesis, is often referred to as Young Earth Creationism. This perspective asserts that the Earth, and all living organisms were created by God in six consecutive, 24-hour days, as outlined in the biblical account. To explore this topic, we will delve into the biblical text and reflect on the theological implications of the creation narrative.

The Biblical Account of Creation:

The Genesis creation narrative, found in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, provides the foundational framework for understanding the origins of the Earth according to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here are the key elements of the creation story:

  1. Six Days of Creation:
    • Genesis 1 describes the creation of the universe and Earth in six days, with each day marked by specific acts of divine creation:
      1. Day 1: Light and darkness (Genesis 1:3-5)
      2. Day 2: Sky and atmosphere (Genesis 1:6-8)
      3. Day 3: Dry land, seas, and vegetation (Genesis 1:9-13)
      4. Day 4: Sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14-19)
      5. Day 5: Fish and birds (Genesis 1:20-23)
      6. Day 6: Land animals and humans (Genesis 1:24-31)
  2. Seventh Day of Rest:
    • On the seventh day, God rested from His creative work, blessing and sanctifying the Sabbath as a day of rest (Genesis 2:2-3).

Six Literal Days

In order to find whether the world was created in six literal or symbolic days, we need to study the word “day” which is “yom” in Hebrew. We can determine how “yom” should be interpreted in Genesis 1:5-2:2 simply by examining the context in which we find the word and then comparing its context with how we see its usage elsewhere in Scripture. By doing this we allow the Scripture to interpret itself.

The Hebrew word “yom” is used 2301 times in the Old Testament. Outside of Genesis 1, “yom” plus a number (used 410 times) always indicates an ordinary day, a 24-hour period. The words “evening” and “morning” together (38 times) always indicate an ordinary day. “Yom” + “evening” or “morning” (23 times) always indicates an ordinary day. “Yom” + “night” (52 times) always indicates an ordinary day.

So, the context in which the word “yom” is used in Genesis 1:5-2:2, describing each day as “the evening and the morning,” makes it quite clear that the author of Genesis meant 24-hour periods. The references to “evening” and “morning” make no sense unless they refer to a literal 24-hour day.

The Hebrews, who were never in doubt about the meaning of “yom,” began the day with sunset and ended it with the following sunset (Leviticus 23:32; Deuteronomy 16:6). And, the language of the fourth commandment leaves no doubt that the evening and morning of the creation record are the component sections of an earthly day. This commandment, referring in unmistakable words to the week of creation, declares, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). God used six literal days to create the world.

Young Earth Creationist Perspective:

Young Earth Creationism interprets the Genesis creation narrative as a literal, historical account of how God created the world in six consecutive, 24-hour days:

  1. Literal Interpretation:
    • Young Earth Creationists understand the word “day” (Hebrew: yom) in Genesis 1 to refer to a literal, 24-hour period, based on its usage elsewhere in the Old Testament and the immediate context of the creation narrative.
    • They argue that the genealogies and chronological markers in the Bible support a young Earth, placing the creation of the universe approximately 6,000 years ago.
  2. Theological Significance:
    • For Young Earth Creationists, the literal interpretation of the six-day creation affirms the authority and trustworthiness of Scripture as God’s inspired Word.
    • They view the creation account as foundational to Christian theology, emphasizing God’s sovereignty, creativity, and purpose in bringing the world into existence.

Alternative Perspective:

Those that cling to the idea that the days of creation were long periods of time, even thousands of years, largely find its explanation in the fact that they attempt to make the inspired creation record agree with the theory of evolution. But throughout its sacred pages, the Bible contradicts the evolution theory and rather teaches instantaneous creation as the result of words spoken by God (Genesis 1).

Conclusion:

The question of whether the world was created in six literal days has gotten recent attention. While Young Earth Creationism advocates for a literal understanding of the days in the Genesis creation narrative, other interpretive unbiblical perspectives suggest longer periods of time for the days in creation to accommodate for the theory of evolution.

Ultimately, Christians affirm God’s sovereignty as the ultimate Creator and Sustainer of the universe, acknowledging His wisdom, power, and purpose in bringing the world into existence. And they support the Biblical narrative of the six literal days of creation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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