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Besafe's avatar

What length of time does a day mean in Genesis 1?

Asked by Besafe (441points) May 26th, 2008

Do these verses suggest that time prior to the lights created at this point in the creation was not based on earths orbit around the sun and therefore the days of creation are of different periods of time than our 24 hour day?

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will be signs and will mark religious festivals, days, and years. 15They will be lights in the sky to shine on the earth.” And so it was. 16God made the two bright lights: the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. 17God put them in the sky to give light to the earth, 18to dominate the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19There was evening, then morning—a fourth day.

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9 Answers

elchoopanebre's avatar

Well the “gap theory” suggests that each day may be a million or more years. Some fundamentalist Christians, however, actually believe that each day is a literal day as we know it. But the supporters of the gap theory site the verse that says something like “a day is 1000 years in God’s eyes and a 1000 years a day.” So in short, different people take that verse different ways.

brianinNE's avatar

There is no simple answer to this question. Many individuals interpret this as being an earth-day (24 hours). If one accepts that God created the earth, then it would seem reasonable that the language used to describe creation could be interpreted in terms of what a day means for the eventual recipients of the bible. (The day of rest God took after 6 days of work and that God later commanded others to make a Sabbath is traditionally interpreted as being 24 hours….from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday for Jews or on Sunday for Christians.)

On the other hand, those who take a less literal approach to the depiction of Creation and who seek to incorporate the findings of modern science do not necessarily see God as having done the various actions described with each do in a 24 hour period. Further support for this position comes from the multiple creation stories that exist—the one you cite here and the Garden of Eden story contradict in some ways (such as in the creation of humanity), and the Flood story is often thought of as a third creation story.

Besafe's avatar

I use to think of it in terms of 24 hr days or some other uniform periods of time – the actual length of which I left open. However, I have recently been brushing up on astro stuff and realized that a day has different absolute values. That being the case why wouldn’t a day have a different value for each step as creation progressed from light being spoken into existence to this verse where our solar system seems to have been set in place? Just a thought to wrap our minds around.

Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter's avatar

I like my answer..short and sweet

brianinNE's avatar

Time is a very important element in Genesis and the bible in general; much space is devoted to the lengths of people’s lives and in dividing up the year among different holidays. It is possible to count the amount of time from creation to the present day. I think one can either accept time literally as a matter of faith (the length of time many people live in Genisis is also hard to accept from a modern scientific/anthropological perspective) or to find other (looser) ways to relate to the text.

PupnTaco's avatar

24 hours. It’s just a story.

iamatypeofwalrus's avatar

A day is whatever you think it is.

ebenezer's avatar

its not obvious?

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