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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Creative 'Days' - How Long Was Each 'Day' and Were All 'Days' Uniform in Length?

First, [Jehovah's] Witnesses know that the heavens and earth are many millions (or billions) of years old.

Many "young earth" creationist have mistakenly included the creation of the "heavens and the earth" as part of the six creative days of Genesis. But, in actuality Genesis 1:1 refers to a time *before* the six creative days. The six creative days only refer to the transforming of the earth to make it fit it as a habitation of animals and humans. Millions or billions of years could have transpired between the creation of the earth and the beginning of the creative days.

So, the Genesis account of creation allows for the earth to be billions of years old. (The evidence from our seeing star light which has traveled millions of years is a valid use of proven science and confirms the separation of Genesis 1:1 from the six creative days.)

Witnesses are also united in the belief that the scriptural evidence shows that the “creative days” were not a literal 24 hours. (See: Are Jehovah's Witnesses Creationists?; Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

Now, regarding the length of time from the first creative day till now, Jehovah's Witnesses' official position is that all the Scriptural evidence logically points to a period of seven thousand years for the length of each creative day. This is not *doctrine* in regard to the length of the first six days, for at the same time our literature has always stated that the length of the first six days are simply an "indication" resulting from logically reasoning on the scant scriptural evidence- -specifically the determinable length of the seventh day.

For instance notice the following Watchtower comments. w73: "...*evidently* seven thousand years long." w70: "[Scripture] gives us a clue...reasonable to conclude...appears to be." w67: "Bible indicates." w61: "was logical." w1912: "a reasonable deduction."

The comment in the 1904 Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 6 is significant: "...the length of these epoch-days is not indicated, we will be justified in assuming that they were uniform periods..."

Unofficially many, like myself, may like the idea that each day could be many millions of years in length, or even of varying lengths. However, the *only* reason for this is because it makes it easier to deal with the chronological dating of modern scientists. If we stick to *only* the evidence from the Scriptures, we only see evidence for the each day to be 7,000 years.

One fact that might argue against a variable length for the creative days is that the "days" are said to be part of a creative "week." The description of a week seems to indicate that each "day"--whatever they may be–would logically be the same length. Thus, Scripturally the most logical and most probable exegetical conclusion would be that each "day" must be equal. Since it is an inferred conclusion the possibility that the days could have been variable in length, perhaps millions of years remain as a possible theory. But, there is no evidence for this in Scripture and so is not taught by Witnesses.

The only piece of evidence we have is that the seventh day is 7,000 years. While meager, the Scriptural evidence is clear: we have a series of "days." They are numbered in relation to each other, 1-7. We know the last one is 7,000 years long. Logic induces us to conclude that the other six are of equal lengths. But, if this conclusion is incorrect, it will only be in the New System that we will gain the knowledge to say for sure.

Until then, we must content ourselves with pointing out that though the length of the first six creative days are not specifically addressed by the Scriptures, the available indication is that they are each 7000 years. If someone wants to favor varying lengths or millions of years for each “day” it is without solid Scriptural support.

Fortunately, our logical conclusions concerning the length of the creative days is not life threatening or necessary to our salvation. (Emphasis mine. -E)

Evidence from sound exegesis clearly proves that the creative days cannot be 24 hours. On the other hand, there is not one shred of solid contextual evidence supporting the view that the creative "days" were 24 hours long.

As "A Religious Encyclopaedia" (vol. I, p. 613) observes: "The days of creation were creative days, stages in the process, but not days of twenty-four hours each."—Edited by P. Schaff, 1894.

"Like Young, this writer believes the days of Gen I to be intentionally patterned, chronological, of indeterminable length."–Theological Wordbook of the O.T.

SOURCE: This is an answer by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.