"There is no way the six days of creation are meant to be taken as six literal, twenty-four hour days," stated a Christian at a recent seminar.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because Adam could not have accomplished all that is attributed to him on Day Six. There is no way he could have completed what God told him to do, let alone everything else that God did on that day. It must have taken months."
But many Christian scholars have studied and written extensively on the meaning and context of the Hebrew word for "day" in Genesis 1 and other passages throughout the Old Testament, and they have shown compelling reasons why we must take the six days of creation as literal days.
If this is so, then how does one answer the above criticism? We need first to list the major events of Day Six of the creation week, and then try to determine whether it is possible that all of these events could have been carried out within a twenty-four hour period:
- God created all of the land animals;
- God formed Adam's body from dust;
- God planted the Garden of Eden;
- God brought groups of animals to Adam and asked him to give them names;
- Adam gave names to the animals;
- Adam found no mate and was lonely;
- God put Adam to sleep and made a woman out of his side;
- Adam responded to the woman made for him.
At first glance, it might seem that there is far too much happening for all of this to occur in a twenty-four hour period. But let us examine the events carefully:
- How long would it take for God to create the land animals? Obviously, God, who is infinite in power, could create in an instant of time. Note the words of Psalm 33:9 with reference to the creation of the heavens: "For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."
- We are not told how long God took to form Adam or to plant the Garden, but, again, we know that an Infinite Being would certainly not need a long time.
- We can also be assured that, at God's discretion, it would not have taken long for God to bring the animals to Adam. Note that Adam did not have to go after the animals.
- The major stumbling block for many people is how Adam could have had time to name all of the animals God brought to him. This may seem like an arduous task—observing each animal and its behavior, then deciding on an appropriate name and perhaps writing it down.
The Number of Animals
How many animals did Adam have to name? Actually, we don't know, but we suspect there were not that many.
- He had to name only three groups of animals—the fowl of the air, all cattle, and every beast of the field. He did not have to name the "fish of the sea. or the "creeping things" (insects, reptiles, amphibians, marine invertebrates, etc). Also, the phrase "beast of the field" (Genesis 2:19) seems to refer to a more limited group than "the beast of the earth" (Genesis 1:24). The word "field" implies a significant limitation; probably referring mainly to the animals that would be allied more closely to man, dwelling in the nearby fields.
- He would have had to give names only to the groups or kinds of creatures God brought to him, not to all the varieties, or even species. The many different varieties of animals (such as dingoes, wolves, coyotes, domestic dogs, etc.—all a part of the created "dog kind") would only develop later.
Adam's Memory and Time to Name the Animals
One of our problems is that we try to compare Adam to ourselves in this present world, then quickly conclude that since we could not have named all these animals and remembered the names, then neither could Adam. We forget that we are very different from Adam. He was perfect! We have suffered from six thousand years of the effects of the primeval curse on the creation because of sin. Our brains undoubtedly have deteriorated seriously, compared to that of Adam. We have no idea what a perfect world with perfect people would be like.
Perhaps, though, we can get a fleeting glimpse of what that first Adam might have been able to accomplish. We have all heard of people who, at very young ages, could play Beethoven's symphonies on the piano without having learned to play, or of people who can do great mathematical computations in their heads, or of people who are brilliant artists, or of those with photographic memories. If we put all of these talents together, we may be getting a little closer to what Adam was like in his perfect state.
It Is very likely that such a perfect man could have decided on the names of these animals and remembered them all in a very short period of time. We must not use our limitations in this present evil world as a measure of Adam's abilities.
Forming a Wife for Adam
When Adam had named all the animals that might have been possible candidates for fellowship with him, it was obvious that none of them were really like him. God, therefore, put Adam to sleep and made a woman to be his fife. This act certainly could have been accomplished quickly. Then Adam awoke and saw this beautiful and perfect woman made for him, and, with his intellect, it would not have taken him long to understand and exclaim, "this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. (Genesis 2:23).
We, as fallible created humans living in the present, often make the mistake At thinking that our observations of the present word should be used to determine what happened in the past. Many of us will remember being taught by our evolutionary teachers that "the present is the key to the past."
Christians, however, should be willing to accept God's written Word, the Bible, if they want to know what really happened in the past.
In other words, "Revelation is the key to the past." Knowing what happened in the past, then, is the key to the present.
It is only by God's revelation that we find that the world was very different in the past—a past in which God placed a curse on the creation and Judged it with decay and death. The creation is wearing out and groaning in pain because of sin. God's Word has also revealed to us that the world has been judged by a global flood and that, before that, human longevity extended to many hundreds of years. In Genesis, we find that Adam's and Eve's immediate descendants built cities, worked metals, made musical instruments, and evidently developed civilizations. They were a very intelligent people.
Also, before sin, there was no death. Everything was perfect; there was no curse. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life. We know this from God's revelation in His Word.
Too many Christians, including many theologians, fail into the trap of using their observations of the present world as a basis for interpreting the Bible and its record of the ancient world. When they do this, they are putting fallible human opinion above the authority of the Word of the infallible God.
The revealed word of God must at all times be the criterion by which we form our opinions and develop our knowledge of the past.
Upon what or in whom are we putting our faith and trust—in the words of men whose knowledge is, at best, limited, and whose theories and ideas are constantly changing? Or will we put our faith and trust in the words of God?