Before I get on with it, let me say that I am writing this article as a nominal Christian: born in Christian home and clearly shaped by Christian values, but I don’t practice the precepts of the Christian faith.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss the matter at hand. The first obvious, yet very thing to consider when reading the Bible is that it is a library of books – books of different genres. Some of the books are poetry, some historical and others in the form of letters. These books also have different content and style, too, I might add.
The next thing to consider as we take a somewhat deep dive into the story of creation as written in the book of Genesis is we ought to think of how the author who wrote any form of literature wish to be understood. For instance, William Shakespeare does not intend us to read and understand his poetry as exact history. The same principle applies to the Bible.
Something is to be said about the way in which we use language. A handful of you may be familiar with what I am about to say, but many may have been too busy using the language to bother.
There can be more than one reading of a word or a phrase. For example, in Genesis 1 there are several instances of this. The word “Earth” is used to mean the planet, and then a little later it is used for the dry land as distinct from the sea. In both cases, the world earth is clearly meant literally.
In many other instances, a literal understanding and explanation will not work. A good example is one that we use in everyday speech. We all understand what a person means when they say, “My trip to Dubai cost me an arm and a leg.”
The words “trip” and “Dubai” are very literal, but “arm and a leg” is a metaphor. Costing an “arm and a leg” stands for something real that could be expressed literally as “very expensive”. Just because a sentence contains a metaphor, it doesn’t mean that it is referring to something real.
In many other instances, a literal understanding and explanation will not work. A good example is one that we use in everyday speech.
A biblical example is when Jesus said, “… I am the door” (John 10:9). It is clearly not meant to be understood in a literal sense of a door made of steel or wood.
So, was the universe created in 7 days? The two main interpretations of Genesis 1 are the 24-Hour View and the Day-Age View. There’s a third view called “The Framework View” but we’ll discuss that in a different article.
The Hebrew word “Yom” or “day” is mentioned first in Genesis 1: 5; the natural reading of this particular verse is the “day” is contrasted to night; so a 24-hour-day is not what’s being discussed here.
The second time the word “day” occurs, again in Genesis 1:5, it is in the context of saying that the day involves “evening and morning,” and “day” would naturally then be understood to refer to a 24-hour-day. So now we have two primary meanings for the word “day” in the same verse.
The next occurrence of the word “day” that we need to pay attention to is in the account of the 7th day (the Sabbath) on which God rests from the work of creation. There’s no mention of “evening and morning” as there has been for each of the first six days.
This is an important observation to make because one can legitimately make the argument that God is still resting and the “day” isn’t finished. The lesson to take from that is the seventh day is arguably different from the first six days.
My last argument comes from Genesis 2:4: The word “when” here is used to translate the Hebrew for “in the day.” Clearly the author doesn’t have the 24-hour-day in view… no more than an elderly man would if he said, “In my day there weren’t as many taxis on the roads.”
He wouldn’t be using the word “day” to refer to a particular day in history, however, he would be referring to an indefinite period of time in his past. The word day, therefore, has several distinct meanings in the Genesis 1 text alone. Each of these meanings is familiar to us, too.
As you read the Bible, with a passion for learning (not critiquing), a certain level of complexity emerges rapidly.
To end it off, it would, therefore, be logically possible to believe that the creation days of Genesis are NOT 24-hour-days. I am not trying to be scientific here, but I think it’s fair to let the scripture speak for itself. I am of the opinion that the seven days of creation as depicted in the book of Genesis are indefinite periods of time.
Last but not least, Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…” What it doesn’t mention is when the beginning was.
Other good reads: Laughable ‘Counter-Arguments’ By Racists And Liberals
Author: The Broken Native
The Broken Native is a budding, freelance writer for Newslibre. He loves football, basketball, books, music (all things Indie and flirts with a bit of Jazz), Philosophy and is an ultra-marathon runner.