[Administrator: this thread is limited, upon request, to Bible believing Christians] DEACON One of the key areas of contention in the creation debate concerns the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis one. The Hebrew word “day” is used in much same way as it is in English so like in English, the word "day" has a broad range of meanings. In the first two chapters of Genesis the word “day” (“yom”) is used in three distinctly different ways. In this verse the word ‘day’ means; (1) the time that it is light, and (2), one diurnal day, (possibly interpreted here as approx. 24 hours). The third meaning of the word “day” occurs in Genesis 2:4. Here the word “day” means a longer period of time, in this case it covers the whole creation period. YOM can also mean an indefinite period of time. This is the meaning in Genesis 35:3 "in the day of my distress" and in Proverbs 31:25; “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (ESV) So the question is: Which of these allowable meanings for the word ‘day’ is most consistent with its use in Genesis one? A good number of biblical scholars and commentators have concluded that the Genesis creation "days" must be 24-hour days. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.’s article, “In the Space of Six Days” is a balanced and responsive presentation of the arguments for a 24-hour day. http://www.opc.org/OS/html/V9/1d.html Here is a synopsis of his most persuasive points. 1. Argument from Primary Meaning. The preponderant usage of the word "day" (Heb. yom) in the OT is of a normal diurnal period. 2. Argument from Explicit Qualification. Moses qualifies each of the six creation days by "evening and morning." 3. Argument from Numerical Prefix. Genesis 1 attaches a numeral to each of the creation days: first, second, third, etc. These always signify literal days. 4. Argument from Numbered Series. When yom appears in numbered series it always specifies natural days. 5. Argument from Coherent Usage. The word yom in Genesis 1 defines Days 4-6—after God creates the sun—expressly for marking off days. 6. Argument from Divine Exemplar. The Scripture specifically patterns man's work week after God's own original creation week (Ex 20:9-11; 31:17). THE "DAYS" OF CREATION IN GENESIS 1: LITERAL "DAYS" OR FIGURATIVE "PERIODS / EPOCHS" OF TIME? by the late Gerhard F. Hasel offers a similarly credible argument regarding the interpretation of the Genesis days. http://www.ldolphin.org/haseldays.html These men have examined the context of the whole Bible to determine the possible meaning of a single word (comparing Scripture with Scripture). But when we are examining one word, that word also needs to be examined closely within its immediate context for clues that might help us determine if the word is used in this standard sense. Just a little history: Darwin’s revolutionary theory of ‘the origin of the species’ didn’t initiate the questioning of the ‘Genesis day’. There are enough difficulties within the text itself to do this. Some of the early church fathers interpreted the creation days of the first chapter of Genesis as long periods of time. It was not uncommon for early commentators to interpret the days of Genesis as one thousand years each. Irenaeus, (ca. A.D. 130-200); Origen, (ca. A.D.185-254); Basil (ca. A.D.329-379); Augustine (ca. A.D.354-430); and, later, Aquinas (ca. A.D.1225-1274) chose to interpret the Genesis days to mean something other than 24-hours. In Augustine’s book, “The Literal Meaning of Genesis” he writes “…But at least we know the Genesis creation day is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar.” ….And so from the earliest commentaries we can ‘at least’ appreciate that the word has been an enigma. What are some of the clues that the word ‘day’ may not be used in its common sense? 1). You must explain the day-night cycle without a sun for the first 3 days (questioned by Philo as early as the first century). 2). Re: The creation of vegetation, Day 3: Genesis 2:5-9 Just a question, If the Genesis days were 24-hours in length, why would it matter if it hadn’t rained, the day before all land was under water (day 2). Certainly since the vegetation prospered without the sun (day 4) it could have survived a few days without rain. Additionally the sequencing of the appearance of vegetation appears to be different between chapters one and two of Genesis. 3). It is also of great interest that the word ‘generations’, (toledah), is used in Genesis 2:4. “Toledah” always refers to long periods of time, never to times as short as a week (this argument sort throws the scholars arguments regarding the word ‘day’ back at them). Also note that its use is plural; ‘generations’ have passed in the forming of the earth and the heavens. 4). The events of the sixth day. On ‘day six’ did God not only had to create animals and man, but also during this period Adam had to sense his loneliness, name all the animals, sleep, and only then did God create Eve. 5). There is Adam's statement found in Genesis 2:23 Adam’s expression “at last” (zo’t happa‘am) implies a rather longer sense of time than a few hours. 6). Concerning the seventh day rest mentioned in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 If the seventh day can be said to be longer than 24-hours by the author of Hebrews, can’t we imply that the other six days can also be interpreted that way? Do not fall into the trap of thinking the age of the earth is just a matter of "trusting God's Word" versus "trusting science." Although young-earth views are certainly consistent with the Bible, this is only one of many plausible interpretations of Genesis 1-11. After careful studies of language and literary styles by thousands of scholars over thousands of years, there is still no consensus regarding the meaning of the word ‘day’ in Genesis.