1. “Days” are mentioned, having “evenings” and “mornings.” Who, in their right mind uses familiar 24-hour terminology when discussing long ages? “Six indefinite periods of time, each with an evening and a morning”? Arguing that it’s somehow symbolic is one thing. Saying that it’s the plain meaning of the narrative without outside influence is another.
2. In Genesis 1, God defines “days.” Symbolic terms can’t be used symbolically the first time they’re used and defined. A symbol is used because the normal meaning of the word, as already defined by previous usage, has aspects than can be used in an analogy.
3. The days are numbered, which, in addition to the use of “evening” and “morning,” strengthens the argument that normal days are meant. Anywhere else in Scripture that these terms are used with “day” refers to ordinary 24-hour days. One wonders what more could have been done to emphasize the idea of normal days.
4. The numbers, to have any meaning even symbolically, should correspond to something. Six million-year periods? Six billion-year periods? Which would correspond to any remotely accepted time-scale for earth’s history? And which meaning would possibly be the expected interpretation by the writer over that of 24-hour days?
5. Even the order of events doesn’t correspond to any accepted old-earth series of events, only one of many being the sun’s creation on the fourth day.
6. Along with Exodus 20, the meaning of 24-hour days is clear: the basis of the six-day work week is God’s six-day work week.
7. Jesus’ words that “since the beginning of Creation, God created them male and female” is highly inaccurate if He is considering the “beginning” of Creation to be millions or billions of years afterward, when humans finally arrived on the scene, rather than during the actual six days of Creation.
8. Adam can’t be an allegorical figure, since allegorical or symbolic people don’t have actual physical descendents as Genesis and other passages make clear in their genealogies (which ultimately lead to Christ).
9. Although one can propose gaps in the genealogies based on the fact that there can be gaps in other biblical genealogies, it’s a hard sell to convince someone that it’s the expected understanding of the passage, without some other ideas being fitted in. And a study of the early-Genesis genealogies shows that, based on other information given, there are very few, if any, places where an inserted gap could be viable. (Furthermore, in the possibly one or two places that a gap might work, a missing family line of thousands or millions of years between two patriarchs’ names—when all the others are direct father-son relationships—is hardly likely.)
10. The Hebrew in Genesis has none of the usual aspects of biblical poetry and many of those of historical narrative. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, so I won’t go into the details, but it’s discussed at length in my source above. At the very least, though—all else being equal—it’s easier to argue that a possibly poetic passage should be taken at face value than that a possibly historical narrative passage should be taken “poetically.”
11. While not completely confined to Genesis, the idea that millions of years of death and suffering happened before Adam’s sin—and was part of a Creation God labels “very good”—calls into question God’s character and the clear theology of other passages discussing why death came into the world.
12. God distinguished between “seasons,” “days,” and “years” in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.’” Such distinctions would be meaningless if “days” and “years” did not have their ordinary meanings.
13. All else being equal, the usual interpretation of anything is literal (or, more accurately, a “plain reading,” where poetry is interpreted poetically, historical narrative literally, etc.) unless there is a compelling reason otherwise. Nobody questions how to understand a sign that says “wet paint.” And even if there were a “compelling reason” outside of Genesis, my point is that it’s not there in Genesis.
14. The idea that millions of years of death and suffering existed before Adam’s sin makes God’s promise “to restore everything” (Acts 3:21) of little comfort. Is the earth going to be restored to that same death and suffering?
15. If, in the millions or billions of years before Adam, half (or more) of the animal types that ever lived became extinct, God’s command to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28) loses much of its meaning and appears to come eons too late.
16. In a letter to Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, David G. Shackelford points out that “if the days of creation were actually thousands or millions of years, then Adam lived from whatever point in the sixth day for the thousands of years remaining in that day, and then for the many thousands or millions of years of the seventh day and beyond. Yet, Scripture is clear that all the days of Adam were 930 years (Genesis 5:5)” (volume 12, number 1, p. 38).
17. While the scientific aspects aren’t necessarily discussed in Genesis, a worldwide Flood, as described therein, would destroy all the alleged geological evidence of an old earth that the old-age Christians are hoping to explain—unless one wants to argue that the description of a universal Flood also plainly means “something else.”
By Kevin Paul Moritz , published with permission