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How Not to Wiggle Out of the Days of Creation Week

Foggy morning with the sunrise behind a tree

[Originally published as the second point of Defending a Young Earth: A Response to Tyler Vela (Part 2). You can read the rest of the series by starting HERE]

In recent days, a talented, skillful, and gracious Christian apologist named Tyler Vela has been advocating in defense of a particular brand of “framework hypothesis.” Although he claims to have “no dog” in the “age of the earth debate,” that has not stopped him from releasing materials attempting to refute common young-age creationist arguments. Each main point will be the creationist argument as stated in Tyler’s article. Below, I will post a direct quote (or quotes) that captures the thrust of his objection and my response below. I will make note of any time I quote Tyler directly within my response.

6. Yom plus “morning and evening” in the Hebrew always refers to a literal solar day.

Vela: This is simply a false assertion about the Hebrew construction. The problem is that “morning and evening” is never used in the same way in conjunction with “yom” like it is in Gen 1. The few times that the phrase “morning and evening” is used (only about a dozen times) it is used either of the daily events of a battle or of the daily sin offering, in which the 24 hour day is supported by other clear textual and narratival markers that determine the kind of interval that is being spoken of. This means that the set of verses outside of Genesis 1 that uses the same grammatical structure is a null set – it does not exist. Therefore such a use in Gen 1 serves as a kind of hapax legommena and as such we cannot appeal to any external grammatical rules to demonstrate any particular reading of it. This means that we cannot say that in Genesis 1 it must mean a literal 24 hour day because of some grammatical construction of yom plus ”morning and evening” because there are no other parallel passages in which to derive this rule.

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Tyler’s sixth objection, as stated, is simply a strawman argument. This suggests he has not carefully researched the argument for himself or has gotten some bad information from somewhere.

Notice the way in which he has worded this objection. He closes by saying, “We cannot say that in Genesis 1 it must mean a literal 24 hour day because of some grammatical construction of yom plus ‘morning and evening’ because there are no other parallel passages in which to derive this rule.” (Emphasis mine.)

But that’s not the creationists’ argument!

Tyler’s assertion would be absolutely correct if one were arguing that this exact grammatical construction exists elsewhere and is setting some sort of precedent, but that’s not the argument at all.

Consider the following statement from Dr. Terry Mortenson with Answers in Genesis, arguably the leading worldwide young age creationist organization: “Everywhere else in the Old Testament, when the Hebrew word for “day” (יוםֹ, yom) appears with “evening” or “morning” or is modified by a number (e.g., “sixth day” or “five days”), it always means a 24-hour day.” (Again, emphasis mine.)

If you read the article I referenced, you’ll find that Mortenson mentions other markers in the text (germane to Tyler’s requirements) that point to the 24-hour, contextual understanding. Morning and evening do not even enter the equation other than to make the point that, as Tyler himself affirms, these words never appear in a context outside of ordinary solar days. It is not meant to be a “rule” as Tyler alleges, merely an interesting point of observation.1

However, note that no one is arguing that yom appears outside of Genesis 1 with evening plus morning, but rather, evening or morning! The point is that the fact that both are mentioned with the Genesis days serves to strengthen the contention that they should be understood literally since any time either is mentioned in conjunction with yom, the context refers to a literal day.2

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Here is what another leading creationist organization, ICR, says about it:

The meaning of the term “day” must be seen in conjunction with the use of “evening” and “morning.” Those who would argue that the days are long periods contend that these terms can have figurative meanings. But what is their meaning in the context of Genesis 1? We must ask ourselves, how would the people have understood these terms “evening” and “morning?” Is Moses, and by extension, God, trying to deceive us by not telling us the truth about the length of the “days?” The Old Testament records 38 times when these two words are used in the same verse. Each time they occur, the meaning must be that of a normal day. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate the point: Exodus 16:8 says, “And Moses said, this shall be when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full.” Also Exodus 18:13, “and the people stood by Moses from the morning until the evening.” All the other occurrences are essentially the same. So then, it would appear that when the words “morning” and “evening” are used in the same verse, they must refer to a normal day.

Again, please take careful notice of the argument. Nowhere in the above do they mention “yom” plus “evening and morning,” even though they are referencing verses where both occur! Specifically, they say, “The Old Testament records 38 times when these two words are used in the same verse. Each time they occur, the meaning must be that of a normal day.” (Emphasis mine.) Again, the reference is to the meaning of the verse in context, not the word “yom” itself.

Regrettably, there probably are ill-informed young age creationists who would raise the argument as stated in Tyler’s objection. That is, indeed, unfortunate. However, it would serve Tyler (and anyone else, including YECs) to critique the best available version of an argument–not the easily refuted misunderstandings of those who have not carefully researched the issues.


  1. Below, I will argue that almost always these “points of observation” are irrelevant anyway since it is always context that determines meaning. Nevertheless, Tyler’s objection still fails on logical and semantic grounds and, therefore, needs to be addressed on its own merits.
  2. The interested reader will note that “day” occurs with “morning” 62 times outside of Genesis 1 in the Hebrew Bible and that “day” occurs with “evening” 23 times outside of Genesis 1 in the Hebrew Bible.

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Written by Steve Schramm

Steve is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher with a heart for exploring God’s Word and God’s world. He trains Christians to become confident, passionate servants of Jesus, so they can grow in their walk with God and share their faith more persuasively. Enroll in Steve's FREE email course, The Battle for the Beginning, by going to

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