The Length of Creation
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“The Length of Creation,” Liahona, Mar. 1998, 42–43

The Length of Creation

Some individuals interpret scriptures to say that the Creation was done in six 24-hour days. Does Abraham’s usage of “time” lead us to understand that the Creation was not confined to six 24-hour days as we know them?

Some readers of the Bible believe the Creation of the earth took six 24-hour days. Others refer to Peter’s statement “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8) as evidence that the Creation may have taken 6,000 years.

Latter-day Saints have additional information that allows a third view—that each “day” of the Creation was of unspecified duration and that the Creation of the earth took place during an unknown length of time. Abraham stresses that day is synonymous with time. For example, Abraham 4:8 summarizes the second creative period by stating that “this was the second time that they called night and day.” This usage is consistent with ancient Hebrew. The Hebrew word YOM, often translated day, can also mean “time” or “period.” In other words, the term translated day in Genesis could be appropriately read as “period.”

Also, the term day is used in scripture to indicate a period of time in which the labor of God is to be performed. Day in this sense is usually contrasted with night or darkness, wherein labor is ceased. For example, the Savior said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4; see also John 11:9–10). The Book of Mormon also contains this ancient usage. In Alma 34:32–33, Amulek warns: “The day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. …

“I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”

These scriptures suggest that the word day is used to describe periods of varying lengths. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, “There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the ‘six days’ involved in the Creation was of the same duration” (Ensign, June 1982, 11).

The accounts of the Creation were clearly given to us for reasons other than determining the “how” and the “how long” of creation. A more rewarding approach is to read these accounts to discover what they tell us concerning God’s work and glory.

Photograph of earth courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Right: Creation of Animals and Fowls, by Stanley Galli; far right: Adam and Eve in the Garden, by Lowell Bruce Bennett