What is the Day-Age Theory?
Question: "What is the Day-Age Theory?"
Answer: Although Moses wrote the book of Genesis approximately 3,400 years ago, it has been in just the last couple of centuries that serious debate over the nature and date of creation has developed. Consequently, there are now a number of theories relative to the creation account, and one of them is called the Day-Age Theory. Basically, this is a belief that the “days” spoken of in the first chapter of Genesis are sequential periods and not literal, 24-hour days. Each day, therefore, is thought to represent a much longer, albeit undefined, period of time, such as a million or more years. Essentially, it is an attempt to harmonize Scripture with theistic evolution, or at least with the concept of an “old” earth.
Science has never disproved one word of the Bible. The Bible is the supreme truth and it should be the standard by which scientific theory should be evaluated. In some cases, alternative theories of origins are specifically intended to remove God from the equation. Day-Age theorists are not attempting to remove God, of course; rather, they are trying to harmonize traditional views of the Bible with modern attitudes toward science. All the same, this kind of approach should be handled with caution. The worst consequences of questioning the truth or inspiration of Genesis is that the floodgates burst open for us to question every part of God’s Word that does not agree with our preferences. However, everything Scripture teaches about sin and death requires the inerrancy of the first three chapters of Genesis. All that being said, let’s review some of the arguments made by the proponents of the Day-Age Theory.
Adherents of Day-Age Theory often point out that the word used for “day” in Hebrew, yom, sometimes refers to a period of time that is more than a literal, 24-hour day. One Scripture passage in particular often looked to for support of this theory is 2 Peter 3:8, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” This passage certainly reminds us that God stands outside of time and we should not doubt the occurrence of a future biblical event (viz., the second coming) simply because it seems to be taking a long time from our limited human perspective. According to opponents of Day-Age Theory, then, 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing to do with the length of the creation week.
Each day in the first chapter of Genesis is described as having an evening and a morning. Indeed, these two words—evening and morning—are used extensively in the Old Testament, and in most circumstances they refer to normal days. Speaking from the perspective of language, opponents of Day-Age Theory note that, if Moses wanted to convey a longer period of time, he could have used clear terms such as olam or qedem in place of yom.
Another reason given for a metaphorical “day” as postulated by the Day-Age Theory is that the sun was not created until day four. Given this, how could there have been conventional, 24-hour days (i.e., day and night) before this? Opponents of the Day-Age Theory would contend that, technically, the sun itself is not needed for a day and night. What is needed is light and a rotating Earth. The “evening and morning” indicates a rotating Earth, and, as far as light is concerned, God’s very first command was “Let there be light” and there was light (Genesis 1:3), prior to there being a sun. Separating the light from the darkness was the very first thing our Creator did.
Day-Age opponents will also note that, in Revelation 21:23, we see that the New Jerusalem “does not need the sun or moon to shine on it” as the “glory of God” will provide the “light.” At the beginning of creation, God’s radiant light could well have been sufficient until the luminaries were created three days later.
Additionally, under most interpretations of the Day-Age Theory, disease, suffering and death must have existed before the fall of man. Scripture clearly indicates that “sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). There was no death prior to Adam’s act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden, or, as Day-Age creationists would say, there was no human death prior to Adam’s sin. Depending on how one aligns the Day-Age Theory with the origin of human beings, it could nullify the doctrine of the Fall. This would also render void the doctrine of the atonement, for, if there was no Fall, why would we need a Redeemer?
Recommended Resource: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate by John H. Walton
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Questions about Creation
What is the Day-Age Theory?