Were the Creation Days 24 Hours Long?
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5)
The creation days in Genesis 1 offer a test of belief. Could a lifeless, shapeless mass really turn into a fully formed and inhabited Earth in just six days? This record of perhaps the ultimate miracle confronts us with the power and personality of the miracle Maker.
A six-day creation certainly challenges the beliefs of someone unsure of who God is, but the challenge is even more acute for those who hold the secular understanding that the earth and universe evolved over billions of years. What are we to do with the days of Genesis? Four reasonable arguments reveal our answer.
The first argument concerns miracles themselves. Most of our cultural leaders reject the possibility of a supernatural creation. Of course, sheer refusal to believe in miracles is no substitute for examining evidence for or against a possible miracle. But since natural processes do not create stars, planets, or people, creation must have occurred through a supernatural process—a miracle.
A god who can make a universe can do anything at any pace, even creating and organizing all things in just six days. He should also be able to clearly communicate, as we read in Genesis. There, the Lord defined the first day as the span between evening and morning—our second argument. This “daylight” definition of day should sound familiar. For example, one might say, “I saw her during the day.” All one needs to define these ordinary days is an earth rotating near a fixed light source. God provided light for the first three days of the creation week and then created the sun to continue producing light from Day 4 until today.
A third reasonable argument about the length of creation-week days notes that saying “the second day” and “the third day” normally signifies 24-hour days. If God intended to convey millions or billions of years, then why didn’t He just say so? Instead, He defined a normal day in the unmistakable terms of one Earth rotation.
The last reasonable argument comes from the Fourth Commandment. It says that one day out of every seven days should be set aside to remember and honor the Lord instead of working. It relies entirely on and points directly to God’s six working days and one rest day during the creation week itself. Why were the Israelites told to take this day off? God explains it in no uncertain terms: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”1 Since our workweek days are solar days, then God’s creation week must also have been composed of normal days.
Evolutionary ideas generally exclude miracles and God, so it makes little sense to rely on them when trying to understand creation-week days. But God can do anything. He could transform a lifeless, shapeless mass into an inhabited Earth in an instant, over billions of years, or in six literal days. By using “evening and morning,” by numbering each day, and by patterning our ordinary workweek after His first workweek, He told us that He did it in six ordinary days.
- Exodus 20:11.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Brian Thomas, M.S. 2015. Were the Creation Days 24 Hours Long?. Acts & Facts. 44 (7).