Did God Create the Universe in Six Literal 24-Hour Days? Not only is this question of great importance to the Christian faith but it is also a question being asked much more frequently in Bible-believing Christian churches. Why is this the case? This is so for three reasons in particular: (1) the Protestant evangelical church has largely abandoned the Protestant axiom sola Scriptura (Latin: “by the Scriptures alone”) due to the influence of Higher Criticism, the Neo-Orthodox movement, and Postmodernism; (2) the mainstream scientific and academic communities unceasingly propagandize Darwinian evolution; and (3) theistic evolution (i.e. an unbiblical teaching that God created the universe via evolution) is becoming for evangelical Protestants an increasingly ‘fashionable’ understanding of the creation narrative. That being said, relatively few Christians today believe that the Triune God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days.
Far more prevalent is the day-age theory which essentially interprets each of the six days of creation as a long, unspecified period of time in which God used evolutionary processes to create the cosmos. There are at least two deep-seated problems with this particular view. First, the creation account is not written in the style of Hebrew poetry [this is an argument typically employed by one who rejects a straightforward understanding of the creation narrative]. Rather, the literary style which overwhelmingly characterizes the creation account, let alone the vast majority of the Book of Genesis, is Hebrew narrative. Second, whenever the Hebrew word for day (יוֹם – yōm) is used with a cardinal number (one day, two days, etc.) or an ordinal number (first day, Gen. 1:5; second day, Gen. 1:8, etc.), it always refers to a literal 24-hour day (cf. Deut. 5:13, 16:18; Josh. 6:3, 14, etc.). Consider Exodus 20:9-11 (cf. Gen. 2:1-2; 31:16-17), which Moses also wrote:
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
If yōm does not consistently indicate a 24-hour day throughout this passage, the Mosaic justification for Israel to work six days and rest one day (i.e. that God created the universe in six days and rested one day) is emptied of its meaning.
Sola Scriptura (Latin for “Scripture alone”) is the Protestant theological maxim encapsulating the truth that Scripture (which is the wholly inspired, wholly infallible, & wholly inerrant Word of God) is the sole authority of faith & practice for the believer.