Volume 20, Issue 12 (March 25, 2018)
The Timepiece Argument for the Days of Creation
By Kyle Pope
In the struggle between the conflicting beliefs of evolution and creation some have sought middle-ground in a view that interprets the days of creation in Genesis as indefinite periods of time (perhaps thousands or even millions of years long). The appeal to accept such a view relies upon the assumption that chemical, astronomical, and geological evidence demands that we view the universe as millions (or billions of years old). It is important to recognize that most evidence that is viewed in this way relies on the assumption that material laws and conditions have remained constant. If God created these laws, not only is it impossible for us to know that they have remained constant (since we were not present to observe the past), but also there is no reason to assume that God did not create a full-grown universe. That is to say, just as Adam appears to have been created as an adult, one looking at Adam would be mistaken to assume that he underwent the normal processes of birth and growth to bring about his maturity.
Aside from these factors, for the Christian who believes the Bible is the inspired word of God, there is textual evidence that argues against accepting a view that the days of creation were anything other than what we now know as twenty-four hour days. One of the most commonly cited pieces of evidence comes in God’s command to Israel regarding the Sabbath. He declared, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work” (Exod. 20:9-10, NKJV). The periods of time God calls “days”in this passage are exactly the same periods of time we still know as “days”—twenty-four hour days. They are determined by the time it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis. In the very next verse God continues, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exod. 20:11). In this comparison, both the six-day work-week and the Sabbath day are equated with what God did in creation. If day seven (or days one through six) were a million years each, the comparison would be invalid, and God’s command would be meaningless.
A second piece of textual evidence (in my opinion) is even more compelling. I call it the Timepiece Argument. Think for a moment about man-made devices that keep time. At some point in the past some human being made the very first device for keeping time. Probably it was a sundial or something like it. This was modified over time into the more complicated clocks and watches that we have today. However, what was actually accomplished in the first invention of such a device? Did it determine time? No. It was simply a device that measured time as it was already passing. In other words, if it broke up a day into twenty-four segments, it merely monitored how long it already took for a day to pass.
In Genesis 1:14 when God created the heavenly bodies, it was declared, “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.’” Now, prior to this there had already been three periods of time that God called “days,” but now these bodies are placed in the firmament to “be for signs and seasons, and for DAYS and years” (Emphasis mine). What did that mean? Were those bodies now going to determine these periods of time? No, they were placed in the heavens as a timepiece, to measure time in relation to what had already been happening. Just as the first timepiece only measured what was already going on, in God’s wording the heavenly bodies became a measurement of what had already been going on.
How can we be sure of this? Well, on day four when God said this, He described the function that these bodies would serve. Now, what if day four was 1,000,000 years? It would not be an accurate measure “for signs and seasons for days and years” on day eight, nine, ten, and so on, unless starting on day eight a “day” was also 1,000,000 years. In other words, based on God’s declaration in Genesis 1:14, He Himself defined a period of time measurement that only has meaning in the present in relation to what it was monitoring in the past. To say that day one, two, three, or even day four was different from what heavenly bodies now indicate about time would essentially say that our timepiece ran slower on days one through four than it does now. There is no biblical (or physical) reason to accept such a conclusion.