ABSTRACT: For the past century, the Biblical Creation story has come under considerable scrutiny and derision by the scientific community. Much of the controversy centers around the length of the Biblical Creation Day. While many Fundamentalist Christians insist that a Creation Day must span the traditional twenty-four hours, mainstream science has determined that the age of the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old. Consequently, for the Bible and science to be reconciled, a Creation Day would have to span longer periods of time. This article will demonstrate that long Creation Days are not only possible but with a clearer understanding of the arguments the Biblical text virtually mandates them.


And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Gen. 1:5 NIV)

Each of the first six Creation days end with this Biblical verse. The one exception is the Seventh Day which has no such closure.

The evening-followed-by-the-morning sequence at the end of each Creation Day may not seem natural today. In our culture, the morning hours begin at midnight. In contrast, each Creation Day continued through the evening hours, and did not end until dawn, when the next day began. Since the phrase announced the beginning of the evening, we can infer that God only created during the daylight hours. Although it is not explicitly stated here, this may be a case where God set an example for us to follow. We are expected to work during the day and cease from work at dusk. Since societies at that time were largely agrarian, working the land and tending the herds, this was a wise pattern to follow.

There are some logistical problems with the standard interpretation of this phrase that may indicate something unconventional is taking place here. When and where does dawn arrive on a planet that is in constant rotation? Where is the reference point on the Earth that experiences the rising sun? At any time during a 24-hour day, the sun is both rising and setting somewhere on our planet. As experienced from the barren world of the First Day, without any reference point, it is impossible to differentiate between evening and morning. Both events are occurring simultaneously somewhere on our world. The problem is that these terms can only possess their traditional meanings from a particular location on the Earth. Since no such place is mentioned anywhere in the Creation Story, and the only stated reference point is the entire planet, these terms — as understood by the general reader — are illogical. The entire Earth cannot experience a morning or an evening.

This is the most compelling reason that I believe we should abandon the most common and popular definitions of "evening" and "morning" in this story. The word "evening" is not describing the setting of the sun, which is followed by twilight and then darkness. "Morning" is not the introduction of dawn, followed by a rising sun. Neither would make sense in this passage since the world experiences both events simultaneously, all of the time. Since the primary definitions produced illogical results, it is necessary to turn to secondary definitions. "Evening" can be thought of as an end or an ending to a period of creativity, while "morning" can be understood as the beginning of another period of creativity.1

The terms "evening," "morning," and "day" in the Creation account are considered by many to be conclusive evidence that the days of Creation were 24-hours long. But even in the English language, the words "evening" and "morning" (and possible metaphors) are not limited to specific times in a 24-hour day. Consider such terms as "The dawn of the Roman Empire," "Morning in America," "Our twilight years," and "The dawn of man." There are many phrases in the English language that contain the words "morning," "dawn," "twilight," and "evening." Many of them, like the examples above, denote the beginning or ending of an unspecified period of time. Their usage is not restricted to a standard 24-hour day.

The Psalms provide us with another example of "morning" and "evening" that need not be taken literally. This particular Psalm is attributed to Moses.

You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. (Psalms 90:5-6 NIV)

These verses use the terms "morning" and "evening" to refer to the birth and death of the grass. While the exact length of time that the grass lived is not stated, that time certainly exceeds one traditional Earth day.

Remember, the goal of any Biblical translation should be to properly interpret the message of the author. Since the primary or popular definitions failed to produce any coherent message, it is reasonable to search for alternative meanings for the Hebrew words.

The author wrote the Creation Story in a manner that allows the reader to understand God's actions. We learn that God worked — or created — during the day, and ceased to work at night. This is essentially God's "workday" and is something that mankind has experienced since the dawn of time — work all day, relax, and sleep at night. It is certainly not meant to convey the notion that God works as humans do. He is not bound by such restrictions as a 24-hour clock, or the rising and setting of the sun. The entire purpose of introducing concepts such as "day," "evening," and "morning" was to allow us to relate to God's activities. Without this humanization of the account, there is probably no way that we could ever understand the workings of a Creator Whose time is boundless and Whose capacity is limitless.

If the Creation Days did not span twenty-four hours, then must we still believe that they occurred in consecutive, or continuous, units of time? Hebrew scholar Dr. Gleason L. Archer observes:

There were six major stages in this work of formation, and these stages are represented by successive days of a week. In this connection it is important to observe that none of the six creative days bears a definite article in the Hebrew text; the translations "the first day," "the second day," etc., are in error. The Hebrew says, "And the evening took place, and the morning took place, day one" (1:5). Hebrew expresses "the first day" by hayyom hari'son, but this text says simply yom 'ehad ("day one"). Again, in v.8 we read not hayyom hasseni ("the second day") but yom seni ("a second day").2

The original Hebrew text reveals that the days of Creation were certainly sequential in nature — each event followed the preceding event — however, they were not necessarily continuous. There may have been long periods of time between the Creation Days, and possibly between the events occurring within each day. The distinction here is that "evening" and "morning" are not necessarily definitive chronological boundaries. They were included in the text to distinguish between creation events that were sequential. It makes little sense to bind them to an arbitrary period, such as the twenty-four hours it takes for our planet to complete one rotation.3

As for the rest of the passage, I have already explained that "morning" and "evening" may encompass long periods of time. The Hebrew syntax of the passage, as noted by Dr. Archer, suggests that the Creation Days were indeed sequential but were not necessarily continuous. The days are better translated as "a second day" or "a third day" rather than using the definite article, "the," before the day number.4 Unfortunately, the most egregious error in the translation of this passage occurs in the popular King James Version. For example, it translates the closing passages of the first two days as:

And the evening and the morning were the first day. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The translation is admirable for its brevity, and is adequate for the average Bible reader. For our endeavor, however, the error in the translation cannot be disregarded. What is missing is the second "to be" verb (The Hebrew word is vayehi).5 A preferable translation of the original Hebrew text would acknowledge the verb following "the evening." Here is an alternative translation of these phrases, patterned after Dr. Archer's observations:

And the evening took place, and the morning took place, day one. And the evening took place, and the morning took place, a second day.6

The proper interpretation of the passages may not seem significant — it only alters a few words. But the message conveyed is dramatically different from the King James Version. The "evening" and the "morning" in the King James Version seem to be contained within one unit of action, since they share the same verb ("the evening and the morning were the first day"). The proper interpretation, however, reveals that these events are distinct, and occurring separately, albeit consecutively (it could also be written as "evening was, morning was . . . ") The phrases, "A second day . . . A third day . . ." display possible non-continuous events with lapses of time in between. The traditional translations, "The second day . . . The third day . . ." gives the reader the false impression that the Creation events were continuous with no passage of time between them.

It is hard not to notice the unusual syntax used by the author in these passages. This may be additional evidence that we are not dealing with days of creation that were twenty-four hours in length.

The initial evidence involves common sense and the point that I raised earlier. At this stage of the Creation Story no cities had been built and no countries had been established on our barren planet. The only reference point mentioned on the First Day is the planet Earth. We are thus left to conclude that it is the entire Earth that experienced "the evening" and "the morning." But how is that possible? When is the beginning and the end of a day on a planet that is rotating, and is simultaneously experiencing a rising sun on one side of the world and a setting sun on the opposite side?

Since there is no reasonable answer to such a question, we are compelled to seek alternative interpretations for the terms. It is much more sensible to view "the evening" as the end of God's creative work for the Day, while understanding the term "the morning" to indicate the beginning of a new Creation Day. The strict 24-hour perspective makes little sense.


The word "day" in the Creation Story is a similarly misunderstood term. Like "evening" and "morning," and virtually every word in the English language, it possesses more than one definition. The Hebrew word that is translated into "day" is yom.7 Yom is actually similar to the English word "day" in the ways it may be used. Here are some of the meanings of the word "day."


The most common definition of "day" is twenty-four consecutive hours. Yet, there is nothing particularly special about a 24-hour Earth day that would compel God to limit His creative activity to accommodate that time-frame. One complete rotation of the Earth may be important to human beings and even the animals. But no animals appeared until the Fifth Day, while human beings were created on the Sixth Day. Why would God be constrained by the rotation of a planet that remained lifeless until the Fifth Day? On such a world, it would be pointless for God to complete His work within twenty-four hours — or one complete planetary rotation.


The first time that the word yom is used in the Bible is when God named the light "day" in Genesis 1:5.8 In this instance, "day" is referring to the daylight portion of the day. This varies in length but may average ten to fourteen hours. An interesting point can be made about this definition. Above the Arctic Circle or below the Antarctic Circle, "daylight" and "night" extend for several consecutive months of the year. Twilight also lasts longer in the polar regions. The length of "day" in this example is relative to the position on planet Earth where the measurement is made.

Creationists have often used this particular passage in the Bible, where God names the light "day," as evidence for 24-hour Creation Days. They are correct in their observation that yom is first defined here. They are also correct in their argument that this particular usage does not reflect the millions or billions of years that a Day-Age Creationist embraces. They are clearly wrong in their assessment, however, that this proves that Creation Days spanned twenty-four hours.

The first appearance of the word yom represents only the daylight hours, not the entire day. If this is used as evidence to determine the length of Creation Days, then those days would only average twelve hours — depending on the location on the Earth and the time of the year. It is true that God named the daylight "day," but that reveals nothing about the actual length of a Creation Day.


A "day" may also refer to an era. Some examples of this are found in the expressions: "The day of the automobile" or "The day of the Lord." We often hear older people say, "Back in my day . . ." In these examples, the period of time that is encompassed in a "day" may be years or even decades.

The use of the word "day" in this circumstance almost never represents twenty-four hours. It can designate a period of time that may span weeks, months, or even years. In these examples, a "day" represents a period of time (an era) that is generally not recognized by specific chronological boundaries, but by the activity that it contains.9


Before this era of rapid transportation, people would often think of distance in terms of "days" of travel: "Three days distance by horse" or "Two days march to the enemy fort."10 In these examples, a "day" does not actually represent twenty-four hours of continuous activity. Instead, it represents the time to complete a designated task — traveling a particular distance. While the distance remains constant, the time to traverse the distance depends on the form of travel.11

In today's modern office, it is not uncommon for employees to refer to the completion time for projects as "a few days of work" or "a whole day of work." People of all employment today often put in a "full day of work" at their jobs. In these modern examples, a "day" is actually referring to an eight-hour workday and not the entire day. In addition, it is assumed that for those employed from Monday through Friday, weekends and Holidays are not factored into any assessment of project completion. Consequently, entire "days" are excluded.

In all of these examples, a "day" is a measurement of the time involved to complete a task, and not the passage of twenty-four consecutive hours. Just as we discuss "a day's work" (which is seldom twenty-four hours but more likely an eight-hour workday), God has revealed His "day of work" in each of the days of Creation.


How could man understand all that God had accomplished over a period of billions of years? One way would be for God to divide His creative process into recognizable units, each one containing highlights of that time period. Each of those units would then be called a "day."

Suppose that you have a major project to complete over a period of time. A common organizational method used to complete the project is to divide it into a series of steps or tasks. Each step comprises all of the work that needs to be completed before moving onto the next step. The work involved within each step is generally related or similar in some manner, which is the reason that they would be grouped together. You would then label each step to identify them. When "Step 1" is completed you move on to "Step 2." When "Step 2" is completed you move on to "Step 3," and so on, until the final step is completed and the project is finished.

The steps involved may take varying lengths of time to be completed. If you have a proficient understanding of what you are doing, you may even begin the next step before the current step is finished. In this manner, each step is a unit of related work completed over a period of time.

I believe that this analogy is similar to what God did in describing Creation. Each step of Creation was comprised of many tasks, but only one or two major achievements were recorded in the Bible. The major tasks of each day were grouped into a step, or a unit of work. Since there was a beginning and an end to that step, the Hebrew words voker (meaning "dawn" or possibly "beginning") and erev (meaning "twilight" or "ending") were used.12 The Hebrew word yom represented the time to complete each task. What other method could God use to explain these events to the ancient Hebrews? The people of that time were certainly unaware that the universe was billions of years old. Such an enormous amount of time would have seemed like eternity to them.


The Hebrew word yom, in general, represents a period of time — the length of which is determined by its use in the sentence. As illustrated above, the word yom comprises several definitions in the Hebrew language — very similar, in fact, to the English word "day." This is important to know, because so many people assume that the very use of this word is confirmation that a Creation Day must be twenty-four hours in length. That belief is clearly not true. Even the conservative reference, Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, acknowledges:

Skeptics have ridiculed the creation story in Genesis because it reports that the creation occurred in six days. But the indefinite meaning of day takes care of this objection.13

The Biblical Creation Day is not the 24-hour day that we have come to embrace, but rather a period of time that the Lord recognizes as one of His days.


While a flexible definition for yom allows for the possibility of long Creation Days, it is not the only Biblical evidence. Here is further evidence for long Biblical Creation days.


There is a curious attribute of the Creation Story that has puzzled countless readers, and has long been the subject of debate among scholars. Unlike the previous six days of Creation, the Seventh Day lacks any official closing phrase (And there was evening, and there was morning—the {number} day). Like many readers, when I first recognized the absence of any closure for the final day, I was uncertain how to interpret this mysterious omission. Other books of the Bible fail to provide the missing closure; consequently, its absence is very real. Could the author simply have neglected to include the closing phrase? That scenario can be instantly dismissed, since the author appears to be too meticulous in his writing to make such an error. But if the omission was not accidental, then it is reasonable to assume that it was intentional. And if it was intentional, then its absence might be revealing something significant to its readers.

This dilemma creates an interesting challenge for Fundamentalists. If we are to interpret the Creation Story literally, then we must accept this absence for what it represents. If all seven Creation Days were initiated, but only the first six were completed, then we are required to accept that the Seventh Day has never ended. To merely assume that the Seventh Day was completed is to append something to the Scriptures that is clearly not there. If we are to accept the Bible at its word, then we cannot alter its meaning simply to have it conform to our personal views. A Fundamentalist has no alternative but to accept this conclusion.

For six days, God created the universe and the Earth, and all life that resides here — culminating in the creation of man. But on the final day, He ceased to create. This implies that God has created nothing new since Adam and Eve, and that the Seventh Day was a day of inactivity for God. When could such a day end? Even science would concede that the appearance of modern human beings was very recent. Essentially, we were among the last new species of life to appear on planet Earth. Since nothing new has been created since man's creation, it is logical to conclude that God's period of inactivity (in the creative sense) has persisted through today. What else has God been, if not creatively inactive, since man's creation? Consequently, it appears that we are all still living in the Seventh Day of Creation.

This is another controversial interpretation that has been passionately debated through the years. However, this interpretation is not without additional Biblical support. Another piece of evidence appears in Psalm 95.

For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways." So I declared on oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest." (Psalm 95:10-11 NIV)

In the last two verses of Psalm 95, God declared that a generation of His people would never enter His "rest." For each individual man or woman, such an event would occur in the future, since physical death would have to take place first. The Creation Story already revealed to us that the Seventh Day was God's day of rest. Yet, in Psalm 95, God speaks of man entering His period of rest. The "rest" being referenced in this verse appears to lie either in the future or in the present — certainly not in the distant past. This period of "rest" in Psalm 95 only makes sense if it is a continuation of the "rest" that began at the beginning of the Seventh Day.

The exclusion of a closing phrase of the Seventh Day and the verses in Psalm 95 strengthens the argument that we are all currently living in the Seventh Day. It appears that God's rest has continued since the end of the Sixth Day.


These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, (Genesis 2:4 KJV)

The Creation Story is continued in the second chapter of Genesis, and ends with the fourth verse, which is a title — or summation — verse. Many scholars recognize the entire fourth verse to be part of the Creation Story. Others believe that only the first part of that verse (designated as Genesis 2:4a) comprise the closing words.

I have included the King James Version of the entire verse above to demonstrate that the word "day" is found once again. "In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" is designated as Genesis 2:4b. Many versions of the Bible do not use the word "day" in their translation of this sentence, despite the fact that the Hebrew word yom is included in the original text.14

This verse poses a dilemma for 24-hour Day Creationists, since the entire Creation Week is referenced as a "day." If each Creation Day spanned twenty-four hours, then how can seven such days encompass a 24-hour period? There is simply no logic to this reasoning.

However, if the Creation Days are understood to be "Days of God," encompassing various lengths of unspecified time, then the text does appear consistent. In fact, this is the only interpretation that is rational. Consequently, the "Days of God" are best understood as "eras" or "periods of time." This final "day" — which represents the entire Creation Week — is also an unknown length of time. At the very least, the Creation Week — or the final "day" — would have to span a period of time that encompassed all seven days.

It should be noted once again that this evidence is only valid if Genesis 2:4b is included in the Creation Story, and is not the beginning of the next Biblical story, which is the story of Adam and Eve.


These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, (Genesis 2:4 KJV)

The Hebrew word, toledah, is translated in Genesis 2:4 as "generations."15 A generation, in Biblical terms, does not possess an exact length of time. Generally, forty years is the time most often associated with a generation, however, it does vary depending on its usage. We may think of a Biblical generation as we still do today, with grandparents comprising one generation, parents comprising another, and the children comprising the youngest generation. However, "generations" is probably best understood as an indefinite time-period.16

Whatever length of time a single "generation" may represent, many scholars would agree that it is unacceptable to reduce its length to seven 24-hour days. In addition, the word used here is not singular but plural — indicating that the time spanned two or more generations. Unlike the preceding argument (the final yom), this phrase appears in Genesis 2:4a, which is widely accepted as being part of the Creation Story. The use of the word "generations" in this final phrase of the story is one of the more compelling pieces of evidence for long Creation Days.


In several passages of the Bible, we are told of the ancientness of the Earth. The phrases used to describe the mountains, the hills, and the Earth itself are not phrases that support a young Earth or a recent creation. Six thousand years is not a very long period of time, especially when we consider that seven people in the Bible are said to have lived over 900 years (Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Jared, Methuselah, and Noah). It is impossible to determine the exact age of the Earth from these verses, but they strongly suggest that the Earth is quite ancient — certainly much older than a few thousand years.17


Many scholars are convinced that a Creation Day must be twenty-four hours. Some attach great significance to this conviction, and contend that this is one of the fundamental beliefs required for salvation. The primary evidence and rationale behind 24-hour Creation Days is that one Earth day is twenty-four hours. But perhaps more than any other chapter or story in the Bible, the Creation Story is primarily reporting God's actions. While it is true that the creation of mankind is the pinnacle of the story, it is God's act of creating that is the main focus of the story. Throughout the first six days, God displays His infinite and incomprehensible power to create.

An Earth day is defined as one complete rotation of our planet on its axis. This may be seen as a wonderful gift from God — given to us to separate our time of work from our time of rest. But God is obviously not bound by human physical requirements such as sleep or rest, nor does He labor in our sense of the word. Consequently, an Earth day was designed to benefit mankind.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence of long Creation Days can be derived from this very concept. For while the day that is established by the Earth's rotation is clearly ours, the days of Creation clearly belong to God. They are the days that He labored — for lack of a better word — to complete His project. They were made for His purposes to fulfill His desires; the Creation Days are His and His alone. They were never given to mankind, nor were they created to benefit us. In fact, five full Creation Days had passed before we were created, on the Sixth Day.

Many scholars, however, have unwisely accepted the antithesis of this concept. They maintain that Creation Days — which are the Lord's Days — must be twenty-four hours, since that is the length of an Earth day. This is essentially declaring that the days that the Lord labored must conform to the days that we labor. To engage in this type of argument is anthropocentric reasoning. God is certainly able to perform His tasks within our limited framework — that cannot be doubted. However, to restrict God's actions to conform to our time-frame is an interpretation that is neither mandated by the Scriptures nor accepted practice by Theologians. No honest Fundamentalist can accept such a heretical concept. We do not set the standard from which God operates; it is He Who is the designer of the standard.

It is simply wrong to impose our concept of a day on the Lord. That reasonable philosophy should tell us that a Creation Day and our day probably spanned different lengths of time. The entire Creation Week belongs to God for His divine objectives, and it is best left to God to determine the length of the day that He chooses to work. It is inappropriate for us to impose our physical restrictions on Him.

The seven-day week and the concept of one day of rest in seven, were probably established from the Creation Story. In these examples, we have used the Lord's actions as a blueprint for our lives. Such an arrangement is mandated in the Scriptures (Exodus 20:8-11). It is only logical for us to embrace these examples set forth by God, since they are beneficial to human beings, and He is our Lord and Creator.

If we combine the flexibility of the Hebrew word yom with the illogical nature of the traditional interpretations of "evening" and "morning" in the Creation Story, we are left to conclude that the Biblical Creation Days probably did not span twenty-four hours. In addition, the lack of closure of the Seventh Day, the use of the words "day" and "generations" to represent the entire Creation Week, the ancientness of the Earth as stated in various passages in the Bible, and the understanding that these are "Days of the Lord," allow us to conclude with near certainty that no Creation Day should be limited to twenty-four hours. Long Creation Days are not only possible with a clearer understanding of the arguments, but the Biblical text virtually mandates them.


  1. Hugh Ross, Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective, Rev. Ed. (Pasadena, CA: Reasons To Believe, 1983), p.17
  2. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), pp.60-61
  3. The Earth's rotation has not always been twenty-four hours (actually, it is currently closer to 23 hours and 56 minutes). When the Earth first formed, it rotated much faster than it does today. The gravitational pull of the moon is the principal source of the Earth's diminishing speed. Even today, the Earth's rotation continues to slow because of our large satellite. The fact that the Earth rotated faster billions of years ago means that a day at that time was shorter than today. We are then left with the dilemma that the first Creation "Day" (or any of the early Creation Days) was not even long enough to encompass what we would now consider to be a full "day" — that being twenty-four hours. This scientific fact provides further evidence against a strict 24-hour day interpretation.
  4. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), p.61
  5. Torah Portions, World Ort Union, "Navigating the Bible", 1996, April 16, 1997 (HTTP://BIBLE.ORT.ORG)
  6. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), p.61
  7. Harry M. Orlinsky, ed., Notes on the New Translation of The Torah (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1969), p.56
  8. Torah Portions, World Ort Union, "Navigating the Bible", 1996, April 16, 1997 (HTTP://BIBLE.ORT.ORG)
  9. John D. Davies, Beginning Now (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), p.45
  10. Ibid., p.46
  11. Ibid., p.46
  12. Hugh Ross, Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective, Rev. Ed. (Pasadena, CA: Reasons To Believe, 1983), p.17
  13. Herbert Lockyer, Sr., ed., Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), p.262
  14. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), p.63
  15. Torah Portions, World Ort Union, "Navigating the Bible", 1996, April 16, 1997 (HTTP://BIBLE.ORT.ORG)
  16. Herbert Lockyer, Sr., ed., Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (New York: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), p.411
  17. The Biblical verses are Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 90:1-6, Micah 6:2, Proverbs 8:22-31, Isaiah 46:10, and Ecclesiastes 1:3-11.

NIV stands for "New International Version".
KJV stands for "King James Version".

It's the Biblical Creation versus Science in The Theory of Creation! The Theory of Creation - A Biblical Creation book