For more than 200 years, Christians have been trying to reinterpret
the six days of Creation in Genesis 1 to make them align with
millions of years. But every attempt has a fatal flaw.
“And God saw everything that he
had made, and behold, it was very
good. And there was evening and there
was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
“The sixth day.” What does that phrase
mean to you? More than 200 years ago,
Christians began to question whether
this day truly was the sixth day, instead
of the six millionth or six billionth day.
They were responding to an idea, popularized
in the late 1700s, that our planet
and universe are much older than Scripture
indicates. They wondered where
millions of years might harmonize with
the Bible. So they scrutinized Genesis 1
and reinterpreted the days of Creation
Week in a variety of ways.
But they didn’t recognize that each
of these attempts to insert long ages
into Scripture had fatal flaws (even
beyond the alarming fact that they
tried to change the original intent
of the language). Most notably, they
place death, suffering, and disease
long before Adam and Eve sinned.
Yet you will still hear varieties of
these views. What are we to make of
them? Is there any justification for
changing the meaning of the Bible’s
Many of these views deny the historical
reality of the Bible’s earliest
chapters. This is unacceptable because
it contradicts the way biblical writers
and the Lord Jesus Christ understood
and taught them. Luke stated that
Jesus was a descendant of Adam (Luke 3:38). If Adam were not a real person,
this statement would be absurd. Paul
also wrote about Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). Peter wrote about Noah and
the Flood (1 Peter 3:20). Jesus spoke
about Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:37–38), and he said the first man and
woman were created “from the beginning”
(Matthew 19:4). If Adam and Eve
were created after billions of years of
history, then Jesus was not perfect, he
was mistaken (or a fraud).
What about the positions that
do not deny the historical reality of
the events and people but add vast
amounts of time to Creation Week?
These positions fail as well.
The Fourth of the Ten Commandments
instructed Moses and the Israelites
to work for six days and rest for
one. God explained the rationale: “
For” (Exodus 20:11). If Creation Week lasted
in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that is in them,
and rested on the seventh day
millions or billions of years, how
could it possibly serve as the model for
the work week described in the Ten
Hebrew scholar Dr. Steven Boyd has
conducted a statistical analysis of 522
Old Testament passages. He found
that poetic and narrative passages
could be categorized with a better than
99% accuracy based on the verb usage
alone. Dr. Boyd’s analysis showed conclusively
that Genesis 1 is narrative
history, not poetry. This means the
only way to interpret it properly is as
history, looking for its straightforward,
The immediate context of each
appearance of day in Genesis 1 conclusively
establishes their length. Each
day is marked by “evening and morning.”
A day lasting millions of years
would have far more than one evening
and morning. Throughout the remainder
of the Old Testament, when evening
and morning are used together,
they refer to a normal-length day.
Each day is also linked with a number
(“first day,” “second day”). This construction
occurs more than 300 times
in the Old Testament, and with only a
couple of potential exceptions, it always
signifies a normal-length day. Furthermore,
in the original Hebrew, Genesis
1:31 states that the final day of Creation
Week was indeed the sixth day. If millions
of years had passed, then Day Six
could not have been the sixth day.
Why do Christians question the
length of the days in Genesis but
nowhere else? They do not question
how long the days were when Joshua
marched around Jericho or when Jonah
was in the great fish. The truth is that
they are trying to find a way to make
millions of years mesh with Scripture.
Yet every attempt to harmonize
the Bible with long ages will always
fall short. The meaning of the days in
Creation Week is perfectly clear. Each
day was the same length as our modern
days. The sixth day truly was the
A Turn for the Worse
Decades before Darwin, Christians started developing attempts to harmonize
Genesis with millions of years. They all have serious flaws.
The gap theory was invented to insert millions of years after the first verse
of the Bible, proposing that God created a world full of creatures and then
destroyed it with a flood prior to verse two (all before Adam’s sin). Following
those verses, God recreated the world we now know in six days.
A modified version of the gap theory, confusingly called historical creation,
teaches that God created the heavens and earth over an indefinite period,
but he then prepared the land for mankind in six days.
Another idea, known as the day-age theory, suggests that each of the six days
was a long period. To span the supposed 4.6 billion years of earth history,
each “day” would need to be approximately 750 million years—and roughly
three times that long to account for the supposed 13.8-billion-year age of the
universe. If this view is taken seriously, we must wonder how plants (created
on Day Three) survived without the sun (created on Day Four) for hundreds
of millions of years.
Multiple Gap View
Some have offered an alternative view that essentially blends the gap and
day-age theories. The multiple gap view states that the six days were normal-length
days separated by gaps of long ages.
In the past century, several other new positions have reduced Genesis 1
to little more than poetry. They imply that it is okay to ignore most of the
details as long as one acknowledges that God created this world and made
man in his image. For example, an idea known as the framework hypothesis
argues that Genesis 1 is semi-poetic, overstressing an artificial parallelism of
the creation days and groping for other elements that would make room for
a nonliteral interpretation of the text.
Proponents of other positions, such as theistic evolution, ignore the text
altogether. Essentially, they allegorize or spiritualize chapters 1–11 of Genesis
and reject many details.
holds a master of divinity degree, specializing
in apologetics and theology and a ThM in church history
and theology from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He
is content manager for Answers in Genesis’ Ark Encounter
theme park and author of In Defense of Easter.