The Age Of The Earth: Literal Days Or Metaphorical?

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The Great Debate

The interpretation of the days of Genesis One has for the past two thousand years been of much curiosity to Christians. Some have said it is difficult, perhaps impossible to think -let alone explain in words- what they mean. [1] It seems that the majority of Christians believe that the only way to look at the six days of creation, as literal twenty four hour days and nothing else. Unfortunately, this view has so permeated the culture that if you believe anything other than this interpretation, you are viewed as a liberal Christian who has not much regard for the Bible. Even worse, is the charge from some that you are not even a Christian at all if you do not take this view! Little do people realize, is that there are multiple views of what the days of Genesis One mean, and some of the points of these views have merit and credibility. The list below is a quick summary of four views of the creation days, including the most common “Calendar Day” view. [2]

  1. Calender-day: creation days consist of six consecutive 24-hour periods that are historical and chronological.
  2. Day-age: creation days are six consecutive long ages that are historical, sequential, and chronological.
  3. Framework: the creation week is a metaphor to narrate God’s actions in creation with days to be understood as topical rather than sequential and the durations as unspecified.
  4. Analogical-days: creation days are analogous to, but not necessarily identical to, human days, that is, broadly consecutive but of unspecified length.

We won’t go into the pros and cons for each in this article but if you’d like to do some research on these however, you can check out the Presbyterian Church In America’s website. [3] The Westminster Theological Seminary has a few things to say about these views as well. [4] I for many years was a subscriber to the “Calendar Day” view, but there were various irreconcilable facts (and false preconceived ideas on my part) within it, that I could no longer avoid. Even though I didn’t know where to go from there, I just knew that staying put and holding the fort, wasn’t an option. We’ll discuss this in a later article and analyze some of these various points and facts further, some that may even challenge your worldview.

 

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Endnotes

1. The City of God by Augustine

2. 2004 A Matter Of Days by Hugh Ross pg. 243-244

3. Report Of The Creation Study Committee
http://www.pcahistory.org/creation/report.html

4. Westminster Theological Seminary and the Days of Creation
http://www.wts.edu/about/beliefs/statements/creation.html

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About Razor Swift

Rich Christian who is the founder of Razor Swift, seeks to open hearts and minds through the platform of apologetics. It's his desire to approach Biblical, faith, and other issues from a different perspective rather than just preaching to the choir in the Christianese dialect. He maintains that faith and reason mustn’t necessarily be at odds with each other, but can be complementary. May no stone lay unturned.
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17 Responses to The Age Of The Earth: Literal Days Or Metaphorical?

  1. Mike Felker says:

    “Refuting Compromise” is the best and most thorough defense of the “young earth” view in print. I’d highly recommend this one up and against Ross’ material.

  2. razorswift says:

    Thanks Mike. What are some of the points in that book that stood out to you?

    • Mike Felker says:

      I would say what stood out the most was the strength of the exegetical case that was made. After reading it, it was unavoidable for me to believe anything but a literal 6-day view. What was also notable was the emphasis on Scriptural authority and how it should be the lens through which we view the scientific evidence rather than the other way around.

  3. I’m late to the party, but I wrote some material on the difficulties in compromising with what Genesis clearly states here, if I may be so bold: http://asoldierforjesus.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-do-you-view-genesis.html

    • razorswift says:

      Soldier,

      Thank you for your kind response. There are various reasons why I no longer believe the universe was created in 6 literal days. I’ll be writing some of the reasons why in a future article. On your article you say:

      “Yom יוֹם means a literal day when it is with an indicator like a number, evening, morning and so on.”

      This is not always the case. Consider Hosea 6:2

      Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

  4. razorswift says:

    Soldier,

    One last thing I’d like to address on your article. You say:

    “Still not convinced? Exodus 20.11 tells us outright that God made everything in six days, and rested on the seventh day. He did this as an example for us. He did not work for six thousand years and rest for one thousand years. We would have some extremely rough work weeks with that exegesis!”
    >>>

    There’s a problem with that rest of God (the 7th day) being a literal 24 day because Hebrews 4:4-6 implores us to enter in that rest, whereas the wicked won’t:

    Heb 4:4-6 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

    The writer of Robertson’s Word Pictures understands that “the seventh day of God’s rest was still going on (clearly not a twenty-four hour day).” This can be found on e-Sword. Take care now.

  5. Exodus 20.11 closed the door. Hebrews is not saying that the seventh day is ongoing, unless you buy into certain heresies that cults promote, to be blunt. Be careful about picking and choosing, cafeteria style, Bible verses that may be exceptions to override the clear teachings of the rest of the text and performing acrobatic eisogesis. Even so, you would be back to the original problem of how long those days were. And who was Adam, created on one day? Some simian that eventually evolved to a point of consciousness? Jesus was the “last Adam”, did his consciousness evolve? See, when you tinker with the clear teachings of the Bible, you get a domino effect of having to compromise all over the place.

    http://creation.com/is-the-seventh-day-an-eternal-day

    • razorswift says:

      1. The type of days of Genesis, has from the beginning of the Christian church, not been a unanimous understanding.

      2. Why are you bringing up evolution? I don’t believe in evolution. Also, I don’t deny Adam and Eve as historical people either.

      • I know full well that it has not been a unanimous understanding in the early church. For the most part, they did accept it at face value.

        My reason for bringing up evolution is that it is the most common excuse for doing “day-age”, “gap”, “progressive creation” and other nonsense. People want to look “intelligent” by believing in “science” instead of being st00pid dumb old Xtians with their “faith” in “God”. Let me look stupid in the face of ever-changing whims of man-made “science” philosophies. Let me look like a fool to those who do not believe that the Bible says what it means.

      • razorswift says:

        I hear what you’re saying, but it would be wise for you to not assume that everyone who believes in an old earth, is an evolutionist. Have a good one.

  6. I did not make such an assumption.

    Be careful of taking verses out of context (and ignoring the fact that God laid down a command that we work for six days, not six INDEFINITE periods of time, and rest for one day, not an INDEFINITE period of time). As for your “exception” (special pleading) in Hosea, I found this bit:

    “Hosea 6:2 ‘After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence’ is no exception. This verse exhibits a particular kind of Semitic poetic parallelism of the form X / X + 1 (cf. Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; 30:15,18; Amos 1:3, 6, 9). So it must be interpreted according to the specific context, so that ‘two days’ and ‘three days’ mean that God’s healing of the broken Israel, promised in the previous verse, will occur in a short time. In fact, [This] ‘exception’ REINFORCES the literal day interpretation, because if these days were millions of years long, the restoration would not exactly be quick.”

    I don’t care if you want to believe what the Bible says or not. But I do want you to see that if you start tinkering, you get the domino effect of compromise.

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