A Day is a Day is a Day

I had the privilege to attend the 2019 LCMS Convention as a lay voting delegate for New England District Circuit Three.  During the convention we discussed and passed a resolution about 6 Day Creation.  The resolution was very well crafted by the floor committee to avoid saying more or less than what Scripture said.  When it was presented, a debate occurred on the floor about the term “natural day” as on its face, and in its plain reading, natural day means a normal 24 hour day.  Some did not like this term and brought up a common argument that since the sun did not exist at the time of the first day how would you delineate a natural day?  Since I did not get through the queue before debate ended I figured I would address this objection here since it is a common argument.

To begin let us go back to Genesis and read the text:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Let us first point out that what delineates a day is evening and morning.  This does not require a source of light though but rather requires that you can separate light and darkness.  Evening and mornings are the boundaries you traverse between darkness and light.

We can see from Genesis that light is not traveling isotropically through out the cosmos.  Rather there is a division which God puts in place.  What that division is we do not know.  It could be that light is all traveling in one direction and thus as the earth rotates you would have darkness as you move into the shadowed area (this is how day and night works currently).  Alternately you could have one side of the universe with light and the other dark with the earth as it rotates straddling the middle.  Regardless of the solution all you need to have evening and morning, from a physics point of view, is simply a rotating body with light coming from a single direction.  Morning would occur as you rotate into the direction of the light, and evening would be as your rotate into the shadow of the body.

Now this may seem a completely odd state of affairs.  However recall that God is in the midst of preforming the work of Creation. It is not anywhere near complete.  Thus we have no idea what laws are governing the cosmos at this point.  All we do know is that there was light and darkness, evening and morning when there was no source of light for the sources were made later, and that all of this occurred on the first day.  As such the argument that a day is meaningless with out a Sun (or other source of light) is false.

One could argue about the length of this day, but the plain and obvious reading of the text that is in line with the usage in the rest of Scripture is that a day is a day is a day (see “The Length of the Days of Creation” Douglas Judisch, Concordia Theological Quarterly (1988) Vol. 52 Num. 4 pg. 266-271) .  After all God is omnipotent, He can create the cosmos in any time scale He desires.  Thus we need not jump through bizarre theories about how long a day is, or get in crazy pedantic arguments that it’s not exactly 24 hours.  To do so is to have already given up on the obvious reading of the text and to import your own ideas into the text.

So please in the future do not use this argument.  It is easy to disprove with a little thought.  Instead consider and believe what the Word of God plainly says in Genesis, that the Lord created everything in six natural days by His omnipotent power.

About Dr. Paul Edmon

Dr. Paul Edmon is from Seattle, Washington and now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He is professional staff at Harvard University and acts as liaison between Center for Astrophysics and Research Computing. A life long Lutheran, he is formerly a member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle and University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis. He now attends First Lutheran Church (FLC) of Boston where he teaches Lutheran Essentials. He sings bass in the FLC choir and Canto Armonico. He was elected to the Concordia Seminary St. Louis Board of Regents in 2016. He is single and among his manifold interests are scotch, football, anime, board games, mythology, history, philosophy, and general nerdiness. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent Harvard University or Concordia Seminary. Twitter: @pauledmon


A Day is a Day is a Day — 62 Comments

  1. @Dan #47
    That’s a bit of a false argument, Dan. The Bible does not address “how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin”. The Bible does address the number of days, and women’s ordination. Have you asked these questions of your Pastor? Or is he? an OWNer?

  2. @ Dan #47,
    “So I guess I’ll have to resign as an elder in my LCMS congregation and leave the LCMS because I don’t believe God’s universe and all that is in it was created in 144 hours, but God left confusing evidence to make us think it was longer than 144 hours.”

    I think you’re being challenged to reevaluate long-held beliefs that don’t come from Scripture, Dan. This is a good thing. Have you considered that your frustration could be due to the inner working of the Holy Spirit on your mind, challenging you to look deeper into this issue, investigating it thoroughly, and not be lackadaisical, languid, and indifferent about it?

    God did not leave confusing evidence to make us think His Creation took longer than 144 hours. He told us how He did it. He left us His Word. From His lips to our ears. Can God lie? Can He be confusing and ambiguous?

    The confusion comes from interpretation of evidence/facts outside of Scripture. There are no brute facts, they must be interpreted, and they are interpreted through a framework. I think you are being challenged to reevaluate what framework you are using to interpret the evidence.

    I would encourage you to look hard at both sides of this issue. Do the hard research and reading. Educate yourself by going online and reading the articles that “do not” posit billions and millions of years. Ask yourself why you have brothers and sisters in the LCMS who feel so strongly about this that they adopted Resolution 5-09A at last month’s convention. What evidence are they seeing that you’re not seeing?

    Then ask yourself whether you’re being duplicitous in believing the unscientific claims of God becoming a man, a virgin birth, a man rising from the dead, miraculous healings that all come from Scripture and trusting your salvation on these claims from Scripture, but not trusting that same Scripture when this same Christ you trust for salvation speaks on origins. I can tell you, your non-Christian friends, family, co-workers, etc. see the duplicity.

  3. At the very minimum consider not be an elder failing to profess 6 day creation, for your own sake. What if someone heard you and because of your position took comfort in the same conclusion? Their fault would be imputed to you for eternity.

  4. I believe in a young earth (“young” being defined as thousands, rather than millions, of years). The evidence we find around us on the earth itself only points to millions of years *if* one accepts the assumptions with which secular geologists, biologists, and archaeologists come to the data. The fact is, the evidence itself as presented in scholarly journals is nowhere near as consistent with old earth theories as textbooks and popular media would seem to suggest. Not to mention that the theory of macro-evolution itself is incredibly full of holes, something which even secular scientists, when they’re being honsest, will admit. They’ll just say that since they don’t have anything better, they’ll have to stick with what they’ve got and keep trying to patch the holes.

    [Having said that, I don’t think we can come up with an *exact* number for the age of the earth, unlike, e.g., Ken Ham, who tries to take the ages of the patriarchs in the genealogies as a strict father-son progression and thereby come up with an exact number. There are seeming inconsistencies within the genealogies which are explained by the fact that in the original languages the term “begot” can mean “was the grandfather of” or even “was the ancestor of” just as well as “was the father of.” Luther liked to say that these seeming inconsistencies were put there so that nobody could figure out the *exact* age of the earth and thereby be distracted into useless speculations about when it was going to end based on some sort of alleged symmetry. But the Biblical witness does seem to point to a less-than-six-digit figure for the earth’s age, and certainly not the millions or billions popular presentations of science would have you believe.]

    Now, the age of the universe is a more complex problem to my mind. I’m not convinced of what Dr. Edman calls Omphalos above. I do agree that during the first three days of creation God Himself was the light source, as it will be for us in eternity (they will need no sun nor moon, for the Lamb Himself will be their light). What troubles me, however, is the idea that light which is designed by its creator to provide us with evidence of the existence and nature of the many heavenly bodies which surround us, might not actually have been emitted by those heavenly bodies. The doubt which this could hypothetically raise in one’s mind is, do we really know that those heavenly bodies actually exist? Or is there simply light from them that has nothing backing it up? It’s similar to the doubts about reality itself and our ability to actually know things that are raised by the theory of transubstantiation (if this isn’t actually bread and wine anymore, but it still can be scientifically observed to be bread and wine, can we really know anything about anything?) This is why I’m not satisfied with the idea that God created light from stars, galaxies, etc. already part (or most, or almost all) the way here. Light sourced in God Himself is one thing, light supposedly but not really sourced in objects within creation is another.

    I would like to put forward a hypothesis which can explain how 1) many heavenly bodies are billions of light-years away, 2) the light we see from them was actually emitted by them, 3) the speed of light remains a constant, as Einstein theorized, and 4) those heavenly bodies (and the light emitted by them) are no older than the earth itself, which, as I’ve said above, is likely less than 100,000 years old.

    Sounds like a contradiction, you say? Fasten your seatbelts, because this is where we start riding Einstein’s theories, and believe me, they’re a counterintuitive roller coaster. Einstein’s views on light, time, mass, gravity, and space are weird stuff, and while I believe his theories of relativity are true, I’m not convinced that secular scientists fully consider *all* the implications of his ideas of how mass, and therefore gravity, warp light, and therefore time itself.

    Let’s start with a phenomenon which we know to be true because we’ve observed it to some extent. Gravity bends, or lenses, light. Intense gravity bends light a lot. Black-hole-intense gravity bends light so much that it can’t escape. Simple enough. Light is “lensed” when it slows down passing through one area more than it does passing through a nearby area. This is how lenses work (I’m an optician by trade). Different materials, and different thicknesses of the same material, slow down light differently compared to its normal speed in the atmosphere around us. The same thing is true in space. We have photos of light from behind being lensed around black holes, neutron stars, and even whole galaxies.

    But how can light be lensed, or slowed down, if, as Einstein showed, and subsequent experiments have proven, the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant? Here is where it gets weird. The only way light can move more slowly in a vacuum in one point in space relative to another nearby point, is if *time iself* slows down. Speed is, after all, a measure of unit of length per unit of time. Objects very near the event horizon of a black hole are experiencing time very slowly compared to objects much further away. If you could survive being close to the event horizon of a black hole (you can’t due to the intensity of the gravity but let’s just say you could for the sake of argument), you would only experience a few seconds while an observer much further away would experience hours, days, or even years. Thus far, secular scientists agree that this is what Einsteins theories predict, and what we observe happening with the way light is lensed around massive objects in the cosmos.

    Where I think secular science has tended not to go, and I suspect doesn’t want to go for fear of messing up their precious timescales that supposedly prove everything is billions of years old, is in observing the fact that we ourselves are in the grip of gravity as well. There is the gravity of the earth, which we experience every day, and which even keeps a fairly sizeable natural moon in orbit above us, the gravity of that moon, which, while weaker than earth’s gravity, is strong enough to drag the water in our oceans around in the form of tides (btw, pray for those whom Dorian is about to hit, as the storm will be coinciding with an unusually high tide, thus making the storm surge that much worse). There is the gravity of the sun, which is enough to keep all sorts of objects, from small asteroids and comets to Jupiter, in orbit. There is the gravity of the Milky Way’s core, which our entire solar system orbits, and forming a massive part of that core, the supermassive black hole Saggitarius A*, at the very center of our galaxy. Gravity (and the warping of space-time which it produces) is not only a phenomenon that belongs to ultra-dense, ultra-heavy objects such as black holes and neutron stars. It’s all around us.

    Now, if it is true that someone very close to a black hole would experience time much more slowed down compared to an outside observer, then (and here is the key observation to my theory) is it not also true that the relative speed at which we experience time is also very slow in comparison to the observer in interstellar, and especially intergalactic, space? Might this not also account for inconsistencies in estimating the distance to other celestial bodies? Scientists can’t even get a consistent grip on exactly how distant Betelgeuse is (the close star that may, or may not, go supernova in our lifetime), and Betelgeuse is close enough that its light falls well within the Biblical timescale, even without relativity being taken into account.

    What I’m getting at is this: Everything was created in Genesis 1, in six literal days, thousands rather than billions of years ago *according to the earth’s own timescale within the gravity wells in which God created it.* The light from distant bodies may very well have been travelling for millions or billions of years *from the perpective of an observer out in the intergalactic space where the light is passing by*, while those bodies themselves would also be only thousands of years old according to earth’s timescale. Even the photons themselves that travelled for billions of years according to their own timescale, would only have been travelling for a few thousand years from our perspective. Time is not a constant. It itself is a creature of God. He is transcendent of even time itself, and even the theories of someone as late as Einstein remind us of this.

  5. @Tim Schellenbach #54

    “There are seeming inconsistencies within the genealogies which are explained by the fact that in the original languages the term “begot” can mean “was the grandfather of” or even “was the ancestor of” just as well as “was the father of.”

    Perhaps genealogical gaps, but no, no chronological gaps, for the simple reason that the mathematical formula holds whether it was a great-grandfather/great grandson relationship, grandfather/grandson relationship, or father/son relationship. There is a consistent formula that links together the generations in both Gen. 5 and 11 of “When A had lived X years, he had B. This construction communicates how old each patriarch was when he “had” or “brought to birth” his descendant.

    You seem to be taking your information perhaps from William Henry Green’s 1890 essay “Primeval Chronology”? Green’s analysis was that gaps in Gen. 5 and 11 do not impose a timeline on the interpreter, and it is this view that has been the consensus view among evangelical OT scholars since. However, Green was trying to reconcile the alleged academically accepted antiquity of mankind (in light of Darwin’s findings) with Scripture, and complicated what is lexically and grammatically straightforward I believe.

    The article below from Pastor Jeremy Sexton may be helpful:

    It terms of a less that six-figure age for the earth, I realize this is what you are postulating, but I think you’re off by a zero; less than a five-figure age for the earth is more consistent with a day is a day is a day and the straightforward understanding of the chronogenealogies in Gen. 5 and 11.

    In terms of your comments regarding Einstein, gravity wells, relativity, etc, are you willing to put your theory to the test and run it up against other scientists in the field?

    You might try condensing the above and running it up against astronomer Dr. John Byl and his Rapidly Matured Creation (RMC) model at https://bylogos.blogspot.com/. If you send as a comment on his blog, he will respond.

    You also might try running it up against astronomer Dr. John Hartnett at https://biblescienceforum.com/ and specifically the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) model that he and astronomer Dr. Jason Lisle are proposing.

    I’m sure astrophysicist Dr. Edmon might have some insight on your post, but we haven’t seen a comment from him in a while.

    The other thing you might want to consider, since your view is “novel” (an earth 100,000 years old), where it fits within the current proposals already out there, i.e., Gap Theory, Day Age Theory, Framework Hypothesis, John Walton’s Lost World Theory, etc. How does a 100,000 year old earth fit with any of the above, or are you attempting to modify the traditional and orthodox six-day theory of <10,000 years to now <100,000 years?

  6. I wasn’t hypothesizing a 100,000 year old earth, only a <100,000 year old one. My personal belief is that it is toward the lower end of that spectrum, (say between 6,000 and 40,000, which agrees with what one conservative Hebrew prof at Fort Wayne thinks is possible). I was simply making the point that we can't nail it down exactly because some genealogies have a different number of generations than others do, and the attempt to nail it down exactly misses the point and says more than Scripture actually says. In any case, I do not believe in the gap theory or the day/age theory. I do believe that Genesis 1-2 happened within six 24-hour days (as measured from within the earth's own frame of reference). I'm just not convinced the Scriptures give us as exact a number of years *since* the literal six-day creation as some think.

    I realize my hypothesis regarding space, time, and gravity/mass is just a hypothesis, but it's been brewing in my head for a while and this discussion was the first place I had time to write it all down (so you guys are my guinea pigs). I do know (because I've been following these sorts of subjects) that secular scientis have a lot of trouble coming up with consistent numbers for the distance of various objects, not to mention the alleged rate of expansion since the supposed "big bang" (an event in which I do *not* believe). The more they push their theories, the less consistent the results are. Which is why, while I do think Einstein's theories have been proven, there's more to them from a creationist perspective than secular science wants to admit.

  7. Tim,
    Understood. I guess I would be interested in hearing where the upper limit of 40,000 years comes from. Do you have a link to a paper from the Fort Wayne prof that expands on this, or where does that number come from?

  8. @Tim Schellenbach #58

    “I was simply making the point that we can’t nail it down exactly because some genealogies have a different number of generations than others do, and the attempt to nail it down exactly misses the point and says more than Scripture actually says.”

    Unfortunate. Anyone can make claims, but unless those claims are backed up by solid logic and reasoning that someone else can follow, they are just personal opinions.

    I understand the logic and reasoning behind a <10,000 year old universe/earth, as all three major OT texts: the Masoretic (MT), the Septuagint (LXX), and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) although differing somewhat in their timelines, are all under 10,000 years.

    I disagree with your premise above in quotes. If the chronogenealogies in Gen. 5 and 11 are not meant for us to comprehend a straightforward chronology from Adam created on Day 6 up to and through Abraham, then why did God include them in Holy Writ? He could have left them out completely. What Godly logic did He have for including them? In His infinite Wisdom, what was His intent and purpose for making sure they were there? To say there might be gaps, or the chronogenealogies were never meant to give us an age approximation is to "miss the point" of why they were included in the first place. I think we can "nail it down" pretty close. Exact? No, scholars are still parsing the LXX against the MT, but you've got a pretty narrow range between the two; creation according to the MT about 4000BC, creation according to the LXX around 5550BC.

    But what I don't see is the logic and reasoning behind a creation <100,000 years ago, or even your upper limit of 40,000 years ago. You've got to give us more to work with brother.

  9. That one paragraph was a side observation which was going from something one of my professors had said in class one day. I honestly don’t remember the argumenation, and since this was a couple of decades ago he may even have changed his position since then. In retrospect I regret bringing it up as it has completely derailed the discussion from the main point of my post. Suffice it to say that I think the main point of the genealogies, both OT and NT, is to say, “These people are important because they’re in the direct line of the Messiah and they show us the line of descent from the first Adam who sinned and the last Adam who bore his sin,” and this point is made even if there is some wiggle room as to exactly how many years elapsed. I don’t believe in the secular idea of millions and billions of years. The earth’s age is measured in thousands of years. I’m just going to leave it at that.

  10. Tim,
    Clarification. Beautiful baby in that you don’t believe in the secular idea of millions and billions of years and that the earth’s age is measured in thousands of years. Not so beautiful in that you think the main point of the genealogies was just “these people are important because they’re in the direct line of the Messiah”. The chronogenealogies are much more than that.

    I would still be interested in a paper, book, article that delineates the <100,000 years thesis, or even the 40,000 year thesis if you can point me to one.

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