Seven 24 hour days of Creation

Why do fundamentalists need the Creation story to be literally seven 24 hours?

There was no death before Adam and Eve’s first sin. What does that mean? Does that mean no plants died? Yes? No? Okay, plants must have died, because they ate the plants, so decay was part of the Garden of Eden before the Fall. It was just animal life that could not, had not died. Because Adam brought death into the world. So cells matured, aged and died, decayed and became compost and then it started all over again. But only plants? No animals died. Animal cells did not mature, age and die? Why then did plant cells mature, age and die?

Adam and Eve by Jan Gossaert, Dutch, 1510

Let’s back up a little bit here. Light was created before the sun, moon and stars. For 24 literal hours there was light, but no source for the light to come from. Makes no sense to me.

Why not just believe that these are truth-telling stories, telling spiritual truths, that are not literally, historically true, as we understand historical truth today?

When the Creation story was originally written, it was written in contrast to a similarl story in Babylon (Iraq) of how the gods came into being and how they created the world. In pagan religions the gods are not particularly interested in humans or human welfare. The biblical creation story differs from the Babylonian story in that there is only one God in the Genesis account, One Who is portrayed as purposeful and beneficent, as well as creating humanity in God’s image. So the story taught wonderful truths to the Jewish people in the time of Moses. “See how we are different from the Babylonians? We believe God cares about us, has a purpose for us, and that we are in the image of God.” The biblical writer took a current iconic story and altered it to teach a powerful spiritual truth. That truth buoyed up and supported the Israelites for thousands of years, and that creation story has outlasted most other creation stories.

Taking a current iconic story and teaching a spiritual truth from it today, would be like us taking the current iconic story of our origins and adding a narrative that teaches a powerful truth: “God patiently waited for millennia until the first humans appeared on the face of the earth, apes whose brains had matured until they could conceive of, and worship their Creator, as well as choose to nurture one another instead of destroy each other. God was thrilled. How long He had waited for these creatures to evolve in His own image. And now it was time for Him to begin His long conversation with humanity…”

If the Creation Story is not literally true, then the human race could have come about some other way than created whole in seven 24 hour days. And that calls into question a host of doctrines we hold very close to our hearts: the superiority of humans, the sanctity of life, humans created in God’s image, humanity as the center of creation, the restoration of the Garden of Eden, eternal life, the holiness of our genetic makeup, the nature of sin, the superiority of males, etc.

Each of these doctrines has to be painstakingly re-examined if one lets go of the seven 24 hour days of creation. Each doctrine has to be examined in the light of what we determine God has revealed to us in Scripture, in Nature, in our intellect and in our hearts. This is hard work, and frightening because we may end up believing things that are not as safe and secure as we originally believed. And we many not be ready for that.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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4 Responses to Seven 24 hour days of Creation

  1. gnatseyeview says:

    It is indeed hard work, and it can be terrifying. Doing this type of work takes courage–there seems to be so much that can be lost–even eternal life. We must decide whether the truth is that important. If it is, we must accept the answers we get, regardless of what they are, and muster the courage it takes to live with such truths. If the truth is not that important, we must not pretend that the “truths” we cling to have any relation to rational thought, or critical thinking.

  2. reyjacobs says:

    I think the real question is why are you so against the 7 24 hour day creation. I could understand you being intensely against the story of “the fall” (which isn’t even really a fall in the OT context) since its been so loaded up with silliness like ‘original sin’…..indeed, right here in your very post you mix the fall story up with the 7 24 hour day creation as if they’re the same thing. I think its possible to believe in a 7 24 hour day creation without buying the story of the talking snake and the magic apple as literal history. And its possible to buy the talking snake and magic apple as literal history, to misinterpret it, be a Calvinist jerk who teaches babies are born condemned to hell, and yet not believe in the 7 24 hour day creation. The more problematic belief is the “fall” story. The 7 24 hour day creation, even if its not true, is benign. The fall story, because of all the baggage attached to it by Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and every doofus who has a title in front of his name or behind it, has become a sort of demonic monster.

  3. Brian says:

    Having just read quite a lot of your posts from the present until this article, I sense a lot of anger, disgust, and criticism in your writing; it all seems very reactionary. Then again, overcorrection from one extreme to another is the story of history isn’t it? Still, I thought I might toss out a thought about your post here. You don’t spend very much time at the beginning on this, and indeed, you very nearly take it for granted that the 7 days creation is not literal. Your reasoning seems to be based off of “Makes no sense to me.” It is easy to get the sense from your writing that you have a strong aversion to the idea of a 7 days creation, that the idea appears childish, even foolish. I challenge you to consider that the reasons you have listed above may miss the mark entirely many believe a literal Genesis 1-2 account. It should not surprise us if God tells us something we have difficulty in believing. Maybe we have a problem, or many problems with it. But I think we have to be careful in thinking that our own inability to “make sense of something” is what will determine whether or not such a thing is true.

  4. garycummings says:

    I Believe in a literal 7 day creation. It only makes sense me because God did it. I do believe God is capable of creating light before the creation of the Sun. Why not? One of the reasons I Believe this is because of the ordinance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. This is the day God rested after the creation over a period of Six Days. I have read the Enuma Elish, the old pagan creation account. If you compare this to Genesis, there is a stark contrast. In Genesis there is cosmic battle, God just speaks and what he spoke comes into being. In the EE, it is cosmic warfare to bring about creation. The Genesis account is the oldest true story which was inspired by God. It is no pagan flight of imagination.

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