A depiction of the creation days in Genesis
Believers in a young earth less than 10,000 years old accuse Old Earth Creationists of 'undermining biblical authority.' For example, founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis and its two popular attractions: the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, Ken Ham, states, "Most of our Christian leaders have compromised with evolution and millions of years and have undermined the authority of God's word in Genesis 1-11" (time 8:10, 2023, source).
Young Earthers claim to rely on a literal reading of the creation narrative and the genealogies in order to arrive at a young earth model. But as we shall see in this article, Young Earthers like Ken Ham violate the Holy Spirit-inspired biblical authors' intent and force a non-literal interpretation on God's word.
Week vs. Day
In his summary paragraph of the creation narrative in Genesis 2:4, Moses uses the Hebrew "yom," which depending on the context, can refer to either a normal 12-hour day (e.g., Gen 1:19, et al., xref. Jhn 11:9), or an unspecified period of time (e.g., Gen 2:4, Gen 2:17). In the context of Genesis 2:4, Moses is obviously using "yom" to refer to an unspecified period of time since he does not bracket the term with 'evening and morning...' as he does in Genesis 1:5-31.
An obvious question here is: If Moses' intent was to communicate a scientific understanding of the creation narrative, as Young Earthers claim, then why didn't he use the Hebrew "sabua" for week in Genesis 2:4 instead of the Hebrew "yom" for day? Writing, 'in the week God made the earth and the heavens,' would have confined the creation narrative to a literal seven day period. An undated article on Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis website even refers to "the days of the Creation Week..." (source). As such, Moses chose to write, "in the day..." because he did not wish his readers to interpret the creation narrative as a scientific statement.
Young Earthers claim that the purpose of the long ages listed in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies exist to calculate the age of the earth. However, a literal reading and the historical context in which Moses wrote offers a more accurate explanation.
Moses wrote Genesis circa 1440-1260 BC. The Sumerian King List, an ancient near eastern counterpart to Genesis, was written circa 2084-1648 BC. Both the Genesis genealogies and the Sumerian King List describe unusually long life-spans. For example, the oldest king in the Sumerian King List reigned for 43,200 years. The oldest living patriarch of the Genesis genealogies was Methuselah; 969 years (Gen 5:27). Moses even mentions the Sumerian civilization in Genesis 10:10 (i.e., "the land of Shinar").
Additional similarities exist between the two lists. For example, The Sumerian King List records eight kings before "the flood swept over" (source). Similarly, Moses records ten patriarchs before Noah's Flood (Gen 5:1-32).
Thus, Moses' purpose for recording the genealogies was first and foremost to communicate lineage (either by immediate or distant descent). Even Luke's genealogy of Jesus (Luk 3:23-38), which includes a partial list of the patriarchs found in both Genesis 5 and 11 (Luk 3:35-38), does not suggest any calculation for the age of the earth. Doing so would violate the authors' intent. Concluding a young earth from the genealogies is not a necessity to remain faithful to God's word.
A notable detail from the section above is that both records connect the patriarchs and kings to the Flood. Moses does this explicitly in Genesis 7:6, 9:28, and 11:10. Conversely, Moses never even suggests that we connect the creation of Adam to the age of the earth in Genesis 5:2. He just writes, "when they [male and female] were created." In addition, he doesn't even mention the sixth day. No Holy Spirit-inspired writer of any of the 66 books of the Bible ever does. Likewise, the Sumerian King List also neglects to make a connection to creation or the age of the earth.
Extrapolation vs. Direct Statement
Another flaw of Young Earthers is their failure to acknowledge the difference between an extrapolation of age from the genealogies and a direct statement of age. For example, the Bible does not contain any direct statement of age (e.g., 'the earth is ___ years old,' or, 'the earth was created ___ years ago.'). Simply put, their extrapolation of age from the genealogies is not a direct statement of age, and thus, must not be regarded as dogmatic for Bible believers.
Work Week Model
Lastly, the question remains: Why did Moses write the creation narrative within the framework of a single week? The simple and most direct answer to this question rests in its historical context.
Moses wrote Genesis after the Israelites' exodus from Egypt, so we must consider the comparative backgrounds of the Egyptians and Hebrews during that particular time period.
Scripture tells us that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 400 years (Gen 15:13, Exo 1:13-14, Act 7:6). We also know that the Egyptians worshipped false gods (Exo 12:12). Furthermore, after the Exodus, the Hebrews were punished for returning to the former ways of Egypt. For example, they violated God's Sabbath rest (Num 15:32) and they worshiped false gods (Exo 32:1-4, Neh 9:18). Moses strictly warned them not to worship the animals, sun, moon, stars (Deu 4:15-19). The Hebrews coming out of Egypt were a wicked people and never saw the promised land but died in the wilderness (Num 32:11).
It is in the aforementioned context that Moses wrote the creation account. Moses even reminds the Israelites about the creation narrative in regard to keeping the Sabbath in the fourth commandment (Exo 20:10-11). Here, Moses was relating back to the Israelites the manner and purpose for which he wrote the creation narrative. It wasn't an affirmation for interpreting the creation narrative as a scientific statement, but a theological tool for the Israelites coming out of pagan Egypt where they worked every day and worshipped the creation instead of the Creator. Furthermore, after God established them in a land flowing with milk and honey (Exo 3:8, Jer 11:5), the Hebrews apostatized and violated God's Sabbath rest (Isa 58:13) and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator (1Ki 16:13, Eze 8:10). We see then that Moses wrote the creation narrative for a greater theological purpose, not for a lesser scientific one as supposed by Young Earthers.
Sabz, S. (2023, November 8). Young Earth Creationism is Unbiblical. Retrieved from