Were the Days of Creation 24 Hours Long? An In-Depth Look at Genesis 1
The age of the earth, or more specifically how the findings of modern science relate to Genesis 1, remains a heated topic. Sadly, many believers who together affirm the core doctrines of the Christian faith, including the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, have fiercely divided over this issue. Accusations often fly both ways: old-earthers get blamed as “compromising liberals” while young-earthers get dismissed as “backward-thinking ignoramuses.” At times, the discussions aren’t pretty.
My heart in writing this series of articles is not to add more fuel to this fire. Rather, I want to provide tools to help explore and discuss these matters with greater understanding. I am not a scientist, nor the son of a scientist. My training is in biblical studies. Therefore, I am not going to engage with this on a scientific level but rather an exegetical one.
My primary desire in all of this is not simply to advocate for a particular view but to help us as the church hear the message God gave Moses in Genesis 1-2. Before we press this passage to give us an answer on this debate or approach it with the goal of proving a particular stance, we first need to sit under it—open and observant to what God wants to say to us through Moses. We need to follow the text’s cues and emphasis, allowing them to dictate how we understand the days of creation.
Were the Days of Creation 24 Hours?
And as we work through Genesis 1, I think we will be able to walk away with some resolve—at least to the question: Did Moses intend for his audience to read the days of creation as 24-hour periods of time?
Personally, I do not think he had 24-hour days in mind. I find that insisting on a 24-hour-day interpretation is to go beyond what Moses presents us with in the text.
If this seems new or surprising to you, I invite you to follow along with me in this series of articles. Even if you remain convinced of the 24-hour interpretation, I believe you will still find this series beneficial for two reasons. First, I think it will enrich your personal engagement with Genesis 1-2, at least this has been the case for me as I have worked through this material. Second, it will help you better understand why some believers who deeply value Scripture and desire to submit to it as God’s Word are led to an old earth interpretation.
And if you are a fellow old-earther but have only vaguely explored this on a biblical level, I think this series will give you greater clarity and help you better articulate this view in discussions with others.
Regardless of how you enter into this study, my prayer is that it will lead you to love, worship, and delight in our Creator like never before.