Are the days of creation real or are they periods?

One of the objectives of Biologos is to convey the message that seals the unity between science and religion and to recreate faith to those who are troubled by scientific observations that seem to be contrary to the Word. The main question is: what is causing this separation?

Indeed, the field of religion is so vast that there are subjects that cannot be included in these discussions. This is the case, for example, of faith and the mysteries that accompany it, as Jesus said: "If you have faith, you can move mountains ». (Mt 21:21). Moreover, Saint Paul himself said: “Faith is a firm assurance of things hoped for, a demonstration of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). It is understandable why this cannot intervene in the debates between unity and science. In order to account for this, we notice that in these debates, everything revolves around the questions that are related to creation.

By following these debates in different forums, we have been able to notice that many divergences are due to misunderstandings. Indeed, how to put on the same table a story that dates back to 1500 years BC compared to new scientific terms created 2000 years after JC? To defend or to demonstrate to scientists that we often speak the same language and have the same conception, we ourselves must first understand the biblical scheme of creation beyond what we read and bring it to the table of debate.

In the experience of faith, sometimes the words that come out of the mouth do not reflect what is going on in the heart.

In one biblical account, we are told about Pharaoh’s dream (Gen. 41). If the secrets of this dream were not revealed by Joseph, today everyone will read it as such. People will start interpreting about the cows, while Joseph’s first sentence was that these cows represented years of abundance. And, in the following, we saw that he was indeed right.

Thus, to better engage in the debates between science and religion, we ourselves will have to ask ourselves if we understand what we are defending beyond what is written. If not, it is better to ask questions to understand the subject we want to address.

My contribution to these days in this forum is to bring clarification on the days of creation. If we can understand the meaning of six days of creation, we would no longer be confused about the dating of fossils, or even about evolution.

As I said, in the debates of unity between science and religion, the first point that is rejected by scientists in the biblical creation scheme is the six days of creation. Indeed, science has discovered that the universe is currently 13.8 billion years old, whereas according to the literal analysis of the Bible, the universe is still six thousand years old. Moreover, according to science, each process in the creation took millions, even billions of years, while for the biblical scheme of creation, it took only one day. For example, between the Big Bang and the creation of the Sun, it took 9 billion years, while according to the biblical scheme of creation, it took only 4 days from the origin to the creation of the Sun.

All these considerations make that the religious engage the head low in these debates where they cannot brandish this diagram, which besides is already qualified of the accounts resulting from the oral traditions whose true source was lost. This last consideration is unanimously accepted by atheist and Christian intellectuals. I am writing this article in order to restore confidence in the foundation of the biblical scheme of creation. Therefore, at the end of this article, I will only answer questions that are related only to what I have just published.

In relation to all that is said about the biblical scheme of creation and even what is taught in theology around this scheme, there is a verse that I always like to remind everyone without exception namely:

Ex 33: 11 “The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend”.

So, if we know that the 10 commandments come from God, we should also know that the biblical scheme of creation that is attributed to Moses also comes from God. And in God there is only perfect knowledge. If today this scheme is relegated to cosmogony, it is because no one has ever understood it, and no one has ever rendered it well. Hence, scientists and atheists qualify them with all the attributes they want without the religious having any palpable proof. St. Thomas Aquinas said: “If there is a biblical verse that does not answer the observations, the problem is not the verse, but rather our interpretation of this verse” . This is indeed what I discovered after spending many years probing the biblical scheme of creation.

One cannot understand the cosmological pattern of biblical creation without knowing the notion of time and work in the Bible. These preliminary concepts are a foundation for understanding the biblical creation scheme. Since Moses, the writer of Genesis, later referred to the day after the six days as a weekly Sabbath, many believers and non-believers alike think that each day of creation was necessarily 24 hours long. If you try to prove otherwise, you will be called a concordist or a validator of a lie.

If the explanations of what follows come from me, but what I will have to explain comes from the Bible as said by a great man of God; the Founder of “The Way Internationale”, Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille: “the Bible interprets itself”. It is to say that to the question of knowing if the creation took place in six days, the bible itself answers through the following verses that we will have to develop and that it has nothing to do with concordism:

2 Pet. 3: “But one thing, beloved, you must not be ignorant of, that in the sight of the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”.

*ection 1

Biblical language

The biblical language used by Moses was said in such a way as to make the message clear to his contemporaries. The vocabulary was not as rich as it is today.

We should know that the spiritual language, contained in books qualified as sacred such as the Bible, the Koran, the teachings of Buddha, Confucius, the Mayan writings or other esoteric books related to spirituality, are very different from the literary or common language. The same word can have different meanings.

For example, when the Bible speaks of death, it refers to man’s separation from God through sin, not physical death. Thus, in the phrase “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), we see saints dying young and seasoned sinners dying at around 99 years of age. And when the Bible talks about eating, it is the context of the sentence that determines whether it is something taken with the mouth or sexual intercourse.

This is to say that the biblical sentences, although pronounced with a common language, have another meaning, in relation to the true reality. It is a spiritual language called parable, and often pictorial.

Section 2

The notion of time

2.1 The existence of the notion of time In the Bible

The Genesis story makes us see a God who creates things in an instantaneous way, like a magician; this is false according to our literal analysis, and even according to the analysis of Pope Francis. Indeed, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014, Pope Francis said, “When we read the account of Creation in Genesis,” he noted, "we risk taking God to be a magician, waving his magic wand to do everything. But it is not so. (cfr : Europe - Actualités, vidéos et infos en direct ).

Thus, there is indeed a notion of time in the creation story and this notion is well defined in the same Bible. Many religious people think that introducing the notion of time into the biblical creation scheme is a way of diminishing God’s omnipotence, which is not true. In everything God has done, there has always been a notion of time. God’s omnipotence is revealed through the perfection of the things he made, regardless of the length of time it took, included in a day, in the space between an evening and a morning: " there was an evening and there was a morning " (Gen 1:5-27).

2.2. Meaning of the word “day” according to the Bible

The lack of knowledge of the explanation of the days of creation in the Bible meant that no religious person could stand before the scholars with convincing arguments.

In the whole story of the biblical creation, there is a phrase that keeps coming back, namely “there was evening and there was morning” to mark both the beginning and the end of a creation or a day according to the Bible. And this corresponds to the beginning and the end of an era, according to science.

Indeed, the Bible interpreting itself as Dr. Victor Paul Wierwille said, and considering the books contained in the Bible as a Whole by the Christians, whose Hero in the shadow is God, the biblical day as quoted in the first chapter of Genesis is well defined in the same Bible in 2 verses and that does not raise concordism on our part as we can read them:

Ps 90:4 “For a thousand years are in thy sight as the day of yesterday, when it is no more, and as the watch of the night.”

2 Pet 3:8 “But one thing, beloved, you must not be ignorant of, that in the sight of the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”

Despite these biblical verses, no Christian has been able to relate them to the days in the biblical creation scheme, believing that everything appeared simultaneously on the basis of the word.

There are two very important words in these verses, namely “ignore” and “as”. First of all, we should not ignore the notion of time. Secondly, there is the comparative term “as”: “one day to God is like a thousand years”. Here, the word “equal” is not used, but rather “like”. This simply means that a biblical day can represent as many days, as many years as a cycle or an era can take. So to say that creation was made in six biblical days has nothing to do with our twenty-four hour days. Rather, it represents six major stages which, as science has discovered, took thousands, millions, even billions of years.

Moreover, the sequence of events as related in the first chapter of Genesis is the same as what science has discovered so far: man being the last of the creatures to appear on earth. We will have to demonstrate this step by step.

A striking example that shows that these were not ordinary days, but periods, is that during the first two days of creation in Genesis chapter one, there was not yet the creation (appearance) of the lights to mark the notion of time. This occurred in Genesis 1:14, during the fourth period of creation.

Ge 1:14 “God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of heaven to separate the day from the night; let them be signs to mark the times, the days and the years…” 19. 19 "And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

So the first two days were fixed according to what, since the notion of time began on the fourth day? It was fixed according to the outcome of the evolutions that were taking place in the Universe.

Let’s just take the six events of the first day "… the spirit of God moved over the waters… and God separated the light from the darkness. So there was evening and there was morning: that was the first day. When did these waters begin to exist, until we reach the last phenomena? We can see without even making an analysis or concordism that it is an unquantifiable time but that the author has contained it between an evening and a morning and has qualified it as a day.

In order to talk about the notion of time, two ingredients must be present, namely, a star revolving around another. The rotation of the star on itself and its translation or revolution around another, thus create the quantifiable notion of time. That of our planet Earth around the Sun has been divided into 24 hours and now serves as a reference for all notions of time. But, as I said, during the first two days of the creation, there was no creation of stars to serve as a basis for the calculation of time. Therefore, the days spoken of in the Bible in chapters one and two of Genesis are periods and not our ordinary twenty-four hour days.

This development of thought goes hand in hand with the thought of scientists that we can read:

" Cosmologists would like to specify the dates of these phenomena and obviously study them. But how to get information about what happened during the dark ages when there were no stars to shine…"?

(Cfr: futurasciences.com. First stars of the universe: signals finally detected, Laurent SACCO. 02/03/2018).

All this is to confirm that there was indeed a notion of time in the history of the biblical creation, and the days we are talking about have nothing to do with our days of twenty-four hours; fixed on the basis of the movement of the Earth around the Sun. Rather, they are periods that cannot be quantified in the Bible, but which the author divided according to the fulfillment of one ideal and then moved on to another. Once an ideal is accomplished, no matter how long it took, the author of the biblical scheme of creation contained it in one day. And, as I said, we will have to refer to the explanation I made for 2 Pet. 3:8.

Thus, with the notion of biblical time explained, we discover that there are no discrepancies between science and the Bible. Science only makes us discover how many millions; even billions of years were contained in each period of a biblical day. It is the same when the Bible tells us that man is made of the dust of the earth. Today science has confirmed this by revealing the elements of the earth that were part of this dust, the largest part of which is carbon.

This is the explanation that I bring to the scientists and to all the religious people who were wondering about the time of the creation. I think that I have contributed positively to this debate between science and religion and that I have answered the objective of Biologos.

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Neither, and both.

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Not really. You can talk about time using a rock swinging on a string. No sun required. The rotation of any body around another just illustrates the passage of a certain amount of time.

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I have no doubts that the days in Genesis 1 are meant to be generally understood as a human week because the entire account is framed as an etiology for the sabbath. Our ancestors didn’t know the difference between young and old earth creationism. Reading them with that lens and disputing the proper interpretation of the Hebrew word “yom” here is to miss the point entirely and fall victim to anachronism The original audience and author would have clearly understood the idea of 6 days of work and 1 day of rest when the Genesis 1:1-2:4 was written and narrated. There is no reason to imagine or force any other interpretation on them.

At the same time, Genesis 1 is figurative and teaches theological truths about God and the form and function of the world. There are actually two completely different creation stories in Genesis 1-2 that contradict on some details if both are taken literally and the events of days 1-3 consist of separating and correspond to what happens on days 4-6 (filling). As an example, day one separates light from darkness and on day four the luminaries are made. Day two separation corresponds to what happens on day five and day three to day six. It teaches us the form and function–the nature and structure of the world are due to God. There is also an absence of conflict mythology in Genesis that would stand out to ancient readers because no one is on God’s level. He did not need to rise to power or become king. There has never been a time when God was not enthroned and he is so unimaginably powerful, there is nothing to challenge him. People worshipped astral deoities but they are just lights created by God to demarcate the seasons. The great sea monsters of ANE mythology and cosmic struggles? The great sea monsters are just big fish created by God.

A third type of interpretation of the days in Genesis is provided by those who subscribe to Divine or Biblical Accommodation. Proponents of accommodation believe God spoke through the worldview and cosmogony of ancient Israelites. God did not feel the need to correct mistaken scientific beliefs as those issues were not germane to His purposes. Longman and Walton (Lost World of the Flood) write, “The Bible was written for us, but not to us. We have no reason to believe that God gave ancient authors special knowledge of perspectives on geology, cosmology, astronomy, or any other scientific information beyond that known at the time. Nor do we have any reason to think that God embedded such information in the human author’s writings beyond the latter’s conscious knowledge.”

The days are certainly real in the sense that they teach the importance of the sabbath. Its a shame how so few people still honor it.

Vinnie

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Up until the last sentence you could just be reporting what others believe. But that sentence feeds back belief in to the astrology of Sabbatarianism, murderously ordained by God the Killer. Is He the one in Christ Jesus?

I (the same word started my above post) believe in setting aside a day each week to rest, honor God and family. It would be greatly beneficial for many modern people to “unplug” once a week. I don’t believe in killing people for picking up sticks on a sabbath (whatever day that is). I interpret it as a blessing rather than a burden. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”—Jesus

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I was a strict Sabbatarian for 19 years. The package with that in its centre was an… unenlightened one. And it was on the sabbath. The weekly (astrological) sabbath. Saturnday since PIE religion. That the enthroned, oh so accommodating creator God of the Bible had a man murdered for gathering firewood. I wonder if they murdered him on the sabbath? Moving it on a day and having a concert interrupted by a lecture eventually became less murderous after 1500 years.

They are neither periods nor days.

There are two creation stories with different orders and methods of creation. That is evidence that these stories are not to be taken literally

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Well that’s all right then, the guy being murdered was just made up.

I don’t think God actually murdered a man for picking up sticks on the sabbath. Do you think the account is actually historical? From a narrative perspective, its probably more of a “don’t bring us back to Egypt tale.” The man was not murdered in the narrative for “just picking up sticks on the sabbath,” but because it evoked a return to egypt, which, i am not even sure that (Exodus) actually happened

“a salient aspect of Israel’s experi- ence of total servitude in Egypt (‘gathering straw’ in perpetuity). In narrative terms, the Sabbath-breaker signifies a rejection of the new economic freedom into which YHWH had brought the Israelites, including a seventh day of ‘rest’. As such, he shows his rejection of the covenant and the ‘sign’ of the covenant in favour of a return to Egypt and to Pharaoh’s economic conditions. . . . It is not surprising, then, that Sabbath-breaking was thought to justify the death penalty because it recreated the ‘deathly’ experience of slavery in Egypt. In addition, to decide to work on the Sabbath was to powerfully reject YHWH as God and to choose to return to the totalitarian rule of Pharaoh.”

‘What Shall We Do with the Sabbath-Gatherer?’ A Narrative Approach to a ‘Hard Case’ in Biblical Law (Numbers 15:32-36)1 Jonathan Burnside: University of Bristol: Vetus Testamentum 60 (2010) 45-62

in Egypt, the Israelites were forced to ‘go and gather (weqōšešû) straw for themselves’ (Exod 5:7, using the same verb qašaš as used in Num. 15:32 for ‘gathering’ sticks).13 This was part of the cycle of brick-production (Exod. 5:8-19).The narrative is certainly hard but the man was put to death because his actions evoked

This brings us to the heart of the issue in Num. 15:32-36 which is: why was gathering materials on the Sabbath regarded so seriously? Again, it seems to me that this is best understood in visual and narrative terms. ‘Gathering’ on the seventh day of the week evoked the Israelites’ regular activity under the lordship of Pharaoh. This is because the idea of a Hebrew ‘sabbath’, kept at seven-day intervals, contrasts strongly with the work arrangements in known ancient Egyptian social usage11 and in the rest of the known ancient Near Eastern world.

Instead of evoking God’s rule in Gen 1:1-2:4 the man’s behaviour evokes Pharaoh’s rule in Exod 5. It reflects a desire to return to the economic condi- tions associated with Pharaoh and thus signifies the rejection of YHWH’s lordship. This reading strengthens the common view that the story is deliber- ately located in the book of Numbers as an example of the offence that is committed ‘with upraised hand’ (Num 15:30).21 The ‘upraised hand’ (which functions visually as a sign of protest) contrasts with the ‘mighty hand’ (e.g. Exod 32:11) with which God delivered Israel out of Egypt. The Sabbath- breaker’s behaviour thus signifies a desire to return to Egypt. In this sense it thematically repeats the earlier spy-story which includes a statement of the Israelites’ desire to return to Egypt (Num 14:4).

And even if people abused the sabbath, and someone actually murdered someone on it over this, it doesn’t render the sabbath itself bad. But I have zero belief God murdered a man for “picking up sticks on a sabbath.” If some Jews did, that is on them. But this is a boogeyman – don’t bring us back to egypt / honor the sabbath and God story.

Vinnie

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Which guy? I was responding to the opening post.

I thought the topic was creation stories and days/periods.

You have to see the context in which I gave these ideas. First of all, on the earth, to swing a stone in a string, the light of the Sun should there. Now, at the very beginning of the creation, more mainly at the first day, neither the Sun, nor the Earth was yet created. Hence, the notion of time was vague so that one could assimilate a day in 24 hours.

You still have many erroneous considerations about Genesis which is not only theological but also cosmological. But this is not the subject of my publication today. To say that the biblical days were real because the Sabbath was fixed according to that, is like saying that the world was created on twenty-four hour days. To hold this thought in the 21st century is a matter of faith, not reality. Who knows if it is a good faith, I don’t judge you.

When I speak about periods, I mean stages. It is to say that the Universe, from the origin to man, has known six great stages that we call periods, also scientifically attested. Moreover, when you say that there are two different accounts of Genesis, this is not a good analysis. In Genesis 2, which is a real cosmological matter, the author did not bother to follow the order as he did in Genesis I. He limited himself to showing us that there are two different periods of time. He has limited himself to showing us how living beings were formed. In Genesis 1, we are told that God created, but in Genesis 2, the author specified that this creation or the creation of living beings was made from the dust of the earth. This is what science has also discovered. This is what we should retain from Genesis 2, rather than compare it with Genesis 1. They are two complementary stories, not parallel. Our God, is not a contradictory God.

You are right! There are some people who come in with their off-topic stories.

Er, yes. The creation story is an astrological myth to establish sabbatarianism. It is the late recycling of PIE religion, in which the names of the optically visible solar system bodies were used, historically by the Sumerians, keeping the arbitrary 7 day cycle, but wiping out the astrological polytheistic names. All in the name of the axial age fundamentalist Jews’ puritanical killer monotheist God.

The art, the story, the drama is truthful, regardless that it is all made up. That’s what Pan narrans does. It is truthful in what the Abrahamic religions cannot rise above. Theocratic murder.

We read Genesis 2 very differently.

Genesis 2 is clearly chronological, saying man was formed before any plants had sprung up.

And man was formed before any of the animals — as God made animals in search of a companion/partner for man.

So it appears that you have decided Genesis 1 is the literal, chronological set of events (with “days” used to represent periods), while you are largely dismissing or ignoring the second creation story of Genesis 2.

Genesis 1:1-2:4 presents the God of classical theism and utilized pie mythology in creating its own, but it walks all over it. Astral deities, sun god, moon god, water monsters, all created by God. Lack of conflict mythology. I find it to be brilliant for what it is.

You mean the God Jesus called Father? Yes, the OT has a murderous deity in some spots that I reject but a God who is loving and faithful to a sinful and rebellious people shows up everywhere. That is what I focus on. You are losing a lot if that is how you characterize the Jewish religion. Not to mention a judge administers justice. Why the Judge of all judges cannot occasionally do the same is beyond me. He appears to do so inconsistently if He does but as a brute concept, I can’t just dismiss the option and envision a bland god who just looked at the pretty lilies of the field all day.

These people also lived in much darker times. They lacked all modern technology, sometimes had to figure out how they were going to eat their next meal or stay safe while we get to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or argue about whether biologically born males who identify as social females can use public restrooms reserved for ladies. It’s not the ancient authors that believed these things that is troubling. It’s the modern literalists still defending them!

Are you in an active war or enslaved right now? Have you been dispossessed from your home? Do you live under that threat constantly? If someone comes into my home I will not be the pacifist and congenial Jesus who is the fiction of modern imagination as much as the murderous deity was the imagination of ancient Jewish people.

The light and fluffy congenial pacifist deity is easy to embrace from a position of comfort and peace. Those people lived a tough life back then. “God will crush my enemies” was for them about hope as much as anything else. War and slavery built the world. Look at war propaganda in the last century and how it’s changed in modern times. Should we be surprised to find it in the Bible or throw out the baby with the bath water because of it?

I view Acts 5 similarly to the picking up sticks story. Give yourself fully to God is the point. The violence of scripture is a problem but throwing it all out because of it is not a reasonable option to me. Understand it for what it is. Sometimes the violence in scripture is even better than the alternative. The flood story is absurd to me but at least in Genesis God didn’t kill 20,000,000 people because they were “noisy or a nuisance” like in the other myths. It was done because every inclination of their heart was evil. Imagine that you believe in the Jewish God who loved his creation but it was also conventional knowledge to everyone a great flood occurred in the past where the slate was wiped clean. What do you do? Tell the story from your theological perspective in a way that makes sense of you. Thank goodness we now believe God doesn’t send natural disasters but they are a necessary part of creating a free and open world. Well, not all of us think this!

Vinnie

I don’t know how you can take

as anything other than representing a normal 24 hour day. And in this case associating day and night with day, or yom, it really brings out that the author intended to portray this as a normal day. Now I don’t take it to mean that it really took a 24 hour day it is just the way the story is written.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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