One of the objections of non-believers to the Bible is the story of Creation as described in the Book of Genesis. Based on modern science, most people believe that the Universe and our solar system formed over a long period of time, not six days.
Most scientists believe the Universe is over 13 billion years old and Earth over 4 billion years, so it’s easy to understand why so many would be skeptical of the idea that the Universe and everything in it was created in six days. For years, devout Christians and Jews just accepted it on faith. Many may have had doubts or assumed the six days was figurative, not literal and that these details weren’t important enough to undermine their faith.
What many people aren't aware of, is that the original Hebrew word used in Genesis, which was translated to “day”, most likely was not referring to a 24 hour day as we know it.
Biblical Hebrew has a limited vocabulary, with fewer words compared to other languages, especially compared to modern English, which is generally believed to have the largest vocabulary. Therefore, Biblical Hebrew words often have more than one meaning and the meaning is determined by the context.
The Hebrew word that was originally used in Genesis is “yom” and is commonly translated as “day” in English Bibles; however, the word yom has several definitions as follows:
- Period of light (as contrasted with the period of darkness),
- General term for time
- Point of time
- Sunrise to sunset
- Sunset to next sunset
- A year (in the plural; I Sam 27:7; Ex 13:10, etc.)
- Time period of unspecified length.
- A long, but finite span of time - age - epoch - season.
So, is it possible there would be less doubt and more believers if the words “age” or “span of time” or “time period of unspecified length” were used instead of “day”?
I believe clergy, and other religious educators through the years, have done a poor job of clarifying the context of the Biblical wording and have basically asked followers to just accept that Creation was completed in six days. This didn’t impact those who chose to believe anyway, but it has given skeptics one pretty big reason not to believe.
Of course anything is possible for an omnipotent Creator, but in this day and age, it’s a lot easier to believe that the Universe and Earth formed over a long period of time.
Believing the Universe and Earth are billions of years old does not conflict with believing it was all created by God. Furthermore, nothing says that "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" can't be part of God's plan.
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