Fitting everything in on the 6th day
Published: 12 February 2008 (GMT+10)
Kenneth Samples, of Reasons to Believe (RTB)—an organization that argues that the days of Genesis 1 were not earth-rotation days, but long periods of time—recently wrote a blog article entitled ‘The Nature and Duration of Creation Day Six’.2 These are serious claims that impact on the authority of scripture, the message of the Gospel and the character of God. So I will address his points in a systematic manner to show that they do not match the teaching of scripture:
First, it seems unreasonable to conclude that the references to “evening” and “morning” in Genesis 1 can refer to normal solar days when there is no sun or moon in the sky until the fourth creation day (Genesis 1:14–15).
Genesis 1:4,5 states: ‘And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.’
Therefore, evening and morning did exist, initially, without the sun or moon, as the Lord performed a divine miracle by creating light and dividing it from the darkness. Men like John Calvin, Martin Luther, and John Wesley agreed.
Dr Jonathan Sarfati, in page 85 of Refuting Compromise, writes:
‘Modern geokinetic astronomy makes the solution even easier. All it takes to have a day-night cycle is a rotating earth and light coming from one direction.’ Therefore, we can reasonably deduce that planet earth was rotating in space in relation to the primordial light created on Day 1. In addition, the apostle John describes a vision of a new heavens and a new earth in which ‘ … there is no need of a candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light … ’ (Revelation 22:5).
So there is no problem concluding that the days were normal days before the sun was created on Day 4.
Second, the number and complex nature of the events of creation day six seem to demand more than a 24-hour period.
If we presuppose a significant need for naturalistic processes, then the quantity and complexity of these events would at first seem to require extensive time. However, even then, a more careful approach reveals that it is much more feasible for these events to take place within the span of 24 hours than RTB posits.
Samples then goes on to list twelve events of the sixth day, giving the impression that fitting these events into a single solar day is untenable. Let’s briefly analyze each of his points.
1. God creates the various living creatures along with wild animals and animals that become domesticated (Genesis 1:24-25).
God created land dwelling creatures on the sixth day. Genesis 1:24,25 strongly indicates rapid, sudden, and instantaneous creation of these creatures—‘And it was so’. Therefore, it is quite possible that these creatures were created in a matter of seconds.
Again, these verses strongly indicate a rapid, sudden, and special creation of mankind that very well may have taken only a matter of seconds.
3. God gives Adam a mandate of dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28).
Perhaps God took Adam to a place where he had a panoramic view of the entire creation. By gazing at the sweep of creation Adam could easily understand God’s verbal command to reign over the earth. This does not appear to require much time.
4. God makes the plants available as a food source for man (Genesis 1:29-30).
God institutes a verbal declaration to Adam, stipulating the diets of mankind and land dwelling creatures. This would hardly seem to require great periods of time to convey. Interestingly, although Samples mentions the vegetarian diet for man, he does not mention that God prescribed the same diet for the land dwelling animals in these very same verses. This, of course, is consistent with the fact that there was no death or suffering in the world until Adam sinned.
5. God plants a garden and puts the man in it (Genesis 2:8).
If you presuppose that God is truly omnipotent, it is highly likely that He was able to plant the garden in an extremely short period of time. It would also appear reasonable to conclude that He could transport, or travel with Adam, to the Garden of Eden in a short time.
6. God gives Adam instruction concerning obedience to God’s specific commands (Genesis 2:9,16–17).
Again, a verbal command seems to require an insignificant period of time to intelligently ascertain, especially if you posit a tremendous intellectual capacity for Adam, as young-earth creationists do.
7. God commissions Adam to cultivate the garden (Genesis 2:15).
Up to this point, it is difficult to imagine that it took God a substantial amount of time to communicate these duties to Adam.
8. God commissions Adam to name or classify the animals (Genesis 2:19-20).
At last Samples touches on something that may need a little time. However, a careful reading of the text reveals that Adam did not have to chase the animals or round them up. Also, Adam only named subsets of certain kinds of animals: cattle, beasts of the field, and birds of the air. Keep in mind that these three categories of creatures comprise a very small percentage of all the species on this planet. Many scientists believe the number of fossil species has been significantly inflated. Furthermore, today’s species are not the same as the original created kind. For example, there are many species of cats today, but these may have diversified from only one or two original created kinds.
Even without assuming an extremely advanced intellectual capacity before the deleterious consequences of the Fall, it is reasonable to conclude that Adam was able to provide names for each of these subsets of land dwelling animal kinds than RTB assumes—perhaps an hour or two’s work at the most.
But it is quite possible that Adam’s pre-fall intelligence was advanced by our standards, in which case he may have done the task much quicker. Genesis 3 and 4 record the practice of animal husbandry, music, metal working, zoology, and agriculture at the very earliest stages of mankind’s existence. Being in such close proximity to the original creation, early humanity may have been exceedingly intelligent before generations of mutations and other physical & mental defects developed after the Fall.
9. God declares Adam’s need for a suitable helper (Gen. 2:18,20).
Since Adam named the cattle, beasts of the field, and birds of the air, it is reasonable to assume that he would have possessed the moral, spiritual, and intellectual capacity to perceive that these creatures would be unable to meet his personal needs. An emerging loneliness may have emerged quite rapidly as he named the parade of creatures, each with a suitable mate. Human beings can grow lonely within just a few minutes upon separation from people they know and love.
10. God induces sleep and performs surgery on Adam (Genesis 2:21).
This appears to be a supernatural work. Throughout the scriptures, God’s supernatural manifestations often take place in no time at all.
11. God creates Eve (Genesis 2:22).
Like Adam, her creation appears to be rapid and virtually instantaneous.
12. God ordains that Adam and Eve enter into a divinely constituted marriage relationship (Genesis 2:23-25).
In Genesis 2:23, Adam says, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ This would seem to indicate an immediate recognition, by Adam, of Eve’s significance to his life. Considering that Adam has witnessed God’s majesty, His miraculous works of creation, and the glory of the Garden, it is not difficult to imagine that recognizing a creation of his own kind, so beautiful and pure, would have taken very little time to appreciate.
To conclude that all of these events could happen in a 24-hour period seems quite forced and therefore unconvincing.
Not at all. It would certainly appear forced to an old-earth creationist whose primary complaint, in reality, is based on the interpretation of modern science. However, to deny the legitimate possibility of these events taking place within a 24 hour period would appear to limit the capability of the Almighty and to place sound scriptural interpretation in a secondary position to modern science, whose very foundation is philosophical naturalism.
Certainly God is omnipotent and omniscient, but Adam was a finite creature with limitations and boundaries in his nature, and those limitations were present before Adam’s fall.
Adam was certainly a created being who paled in comparison to the omnipotence and omniscience of God. And scripture does not provide specific details for us to accurately assess all of Adam’s mental and physical capabilities. Therefore, RTB presupposes greater initial limits, while young-earth creationists presuppose fewer initial limits. Neither presupposition can be ‘proven’. But the actions described for Adam on the 6th day do not seem impossible to achieve, even for someone of average abilities living today.
It appears that Adam had been commissioned to carry out not three tasks, but rather, as the dean of evangelical Old Testament scholarship Gleason Archer stated, “three distinct careers” (gardening, zoology, marriage).
Yes, Adam was given these ‘careers’ on the sixth day but that only represented the commissioning of Adam’s work in these areas. His implementation and mastery of these ‘careers’ would grow over time.
Adam, though not yet fallen at this point, still needs considerable time to reflect upon and process the profound events he experiences.
This is pure conjecture. How do we know how much Adam required or didn’t require? Samples is making a statement based on assumptions alone.
He ends his column by addressing the issue of the duration of creation days and biblical inerrancy.
Historic Christianity has never held an official orthodox position on the duration of the creation days as it has on such doctrines as the Trinity and the person of Christ.
It may be true that throughout church history councils and creeds have not specifically dealt with the issue of the length of creation days, but that is likely because it was not an issue then. However, the majority of biblical scholars, when providing a clear response to the issue, have argued for a 24-hour interpretation of the Genesis days. For example, twelve early church fathers wrote explicitly on the duration of the six days of creation.3 Nine defended a 24-hour interpretation, while three defended a figurative, instantaneous creation (not day-age like RTB). This is not an appeal to authority but a refutation of Samples’ above claim. Nevertheless, the wisdom of the early church fathers merits careful consideration in the context of the entire debate.
Christian scholars with a commitment to biblical inerrancy nevertheless continue to take different positions on this controversial topic.
This is a surprising statement from someone who is certain that the days of Genesis are definitely not 24 hours long. If he were serious he would have argued that we can’t know. It is an attempt to avoid the clear teaching of Scripture and hold onto an untenable position.
For sure this is not a salvation issue. A person is saved by the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ when they repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning death and resurrection.
But this issue is vital to a logical, consistent Christian worldview. Putting millions of years of death and suffering into Genesis destroys the historical basis for the Gospel. Not only that, it assaults the character of God. He is accused of bringing disease, cancer, death and bloodshed into the world, and then claiming it is ‘very good’.
No! God is good and He created a good world at the beginning. The problem began when man began to trust his own ideas instead of believing the words that God had spoken. Let’s not do that again.
- With thanks to Daniel Anderson, of CMI–USA, for his significant input and advice concerning this article. Return to Text.
- Samples, Kenneth. The Nature and Duration of Creation Day Six, 04 December 2007. Return to Text.
- Bradshaw, Robert. Genesis, Creationism, and the Early Church, chapter 3, 13 August 2003. See also Creation days and Orthodox Jewish tradition. Return to Text.