Creation Basics: Were the Days in Genesis 24-Hour Days?

by Ken Ham on March 15, 2024
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

How long did God take to create? In an effort to fit millions of years into the Bible, some Christians claim the days of creation were long periods of time, not literal 24-hour days. But is the Bible really that unclear about creation—can we add millions of years into the Bible?

We start with Scripture and interpret the evidence through the lens of the true history of the world.

Well, before we answer that question, consider why some Christians want to add millions of years into Scripture. It’s not because the Bible is unclear (we will see just how clear the Scriptures are in a moment). It’s because they’ve been influenced by evolutionary ideas to believe that millions of years are fact so we must somehow, some way squeeze them into the Bible. But we should never start with something outside the Bible and force it into the Bible. That’s called eisegesis. Rather, we start with Scripture and interpret the evidence through the lens of the true history of the world. And that’s called exegesis.

So can we add millions of years into Genesis? Consider these five points.

  1. Context determines meaning. Old-earth creationists will often argue that the Hebrew word for day, yom, can have a wide range of meanings, from 24 hours to an extended period of time (the English word has a similar semantic range). Does that mean we can’t know what it means in Genesis? Well, the golden rule of biblical interpretation is context. It’s not a matter of whether yom can mean something other than an ordinary day, but of what it means in the context of the passage.

    Whenever the word yom appears in the Old Testament (2,301 times), we know what it means because of the immediate context. And whenever yom appears with the word for night, evening and/or morning, or a number (first, second, third, etc.), it always means an ordinary day. And we find all of those contextual clues in Genesis!

    The context is clear—these were ordinary, 24-hour days.

  2. The order of events is wrong. One big problem with trying to add millions of years into the Bible is the order of events in Genesis. You see, according to God’s Word, earth is created first, covered in water. But in the evolutionary story, earth isn’t formed until billions of years after the beginning, and it begins as a hot, molten blob. In the biblical account, the stars and other heavenly bodies are created on day four of creation week—which is after the earth, the atmosphere, and land plants were created. In the evolutionary story, the stars and eventually our sun form billions of years before earth, and once earth forms, plant life is still a long way from evolving! And those are just a few of the differences between the order of events!

    The evolutionary story of the origins of the universe (the big bang) simply is not compatible with the Bible’s history.

  3. There must be death and disease before sin in an old-earth view. The supposed long ages for earth’s history primarily come from an interpretation of the rock layers and the fossils. If those layers and fossils are millions of years old, then there were millions of years of death, suffering, disease, animal carnivory, thorns and thistles, and more in a creation God called “very good” (Genesis 1:31). In other words, there was death and the curse before sin. But Scripture is very clear that death is the consequence of sin—it was not part of God’s “very good” original creation.

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)

    This verse applies specifically to humans, but interpreting Scripture with Scripture, it’s obvious there was no death of humans or “nephesh” animals before sin.

    Any attempt to put millions of years into the Bible puts millions of years of death, suffering, and disease before sin.

  4. Exodus 20:11 uses the creation week to establish a work week. And if there was any confusion about what “day” means in Genesis, Exodus 20:11 clears it away when it says, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Yes, the Lord created everything in just six days and rested for one day, and that’s why we have a seven-day week.

  5. The flood washes away millions of years. As I mentioned earlier, the supposed millions of years comes from an interpretation of the rock layers and fossils. But in Genesis 6–8, we read about a devastating global flood God sent as a judgment on sin. That flood would’ve ripped up all the rock layers and redeposited them, thus erasing any evidence of long ages! So in order to believe in long ages in Genesis, you necessarily have to believe that the flood of Noah’s day was either (a) local or (b) so peaceful it left no mark upon the earth—and neither option matches the language of Genesis!

Yes, the biblical text is clear—God created everything in just six 24-hour days. Rather than believing man’s ideas and compromising God’s Word in an attempt to accommodate them, let’s start with God’s Word and allow it to be our authority in all areas . . . beginning in Genesis!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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