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A comment to this answer prompted this question. Was Adam created, naming the animals, and married in one day, or did these events take place in a larger time span?

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Why do we ponder such things? What is there to learn from the story of Genesis? :P –  user1054 Feb 29 '12 at 3:44
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Sadly, the only answer you'll get here to the "was it all one day" question is a lot of disagreement and unless you're REALLY lucky, a bunch of snipes back and forth between the young-earth creationists, old-earth creationists, atheists, and others in-between. Perhaps I'm getting too cynical for this site now. At any rate, how literally Genesis is to be taken is about as "settled" here as it is in the wider world. –  David Stratton Feb 29 '12 at 4:19
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For this to be a good question, I believe it needs further clarification. Perhaps by asking what a particular faith tradition believes on the matter, or for the evidence that it did all occur in one day, or the evidence that it did not. –  Flimzy Feb 29 '12 at 9:55
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Perhapse you could ask, "According to young earth creationists..." –  JoeHobbit Mar 1 '12 at 2:35
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@JimG. I don't believe that believing the story to be literal or not changes the story or the things to be learned from it. Do you have some examples where the Vatican dictates that it should be taken literally? –  user1054 Mar 1 '12 at 13:26

2 Answers 2

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Short answer: A literal reading of the text would indicate that yes, Adam was created, named the animal, and married all in one day.

Gen 1:1-2:6 gives an overview of the creation of the world. Gen 2:7-25 then goes back and gives additional detail about the creation of Adam and Eve. (There's nothing odd about this, it's a common enough literary technique: first give an overview, then go back and give details about the part you're most interested in.)

Gen 1:26-27 says that God created humans on the sixth day. It specifically says male and female. Gen 2:7 describes the creation of Adam and 2:21-22 describes the creation of Eve. So the plain reading is that 2:7, 2:22, and everything in between therefore happenned on one day.

I don't see any difficulty in supposing that Adam and Eve were both created and married to each other in one day. It's not like they had a lot of choice about potential marriage partners.

Perhaps you struggle with how Adam could have named all the animals in one day? That depends how many animals he named. You often hear how there are millions of species in the world. But the vast majority of those are microscopic, most of the rest are insects or arachnids, and a hefty percentage are sea creatures. The text says Adam named cattle, birds and "every beast of the field". There's no mention of Adam naming fish, insects, or microscopic creatures. If you just count mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians, there are about 30,000 species. Genesis does not spell out how broad or narrow the categories where that he named, and species is pretty narrow. Like did Adam name "dogs" (in whatever language he spoke, of course, not English), or did he name every individual breed? Or for that matter did he just give a name to the broader family that includes dogs, wolves, etc? Realistically, Adam probably named a few thousand animals, maybe as little as a few hundred. If he just went down the line and said, "Okay, I'll call that a 'dog', that's a 'cat', that's a 'moose' ..." etc. he could have named each one in a second or two. At 3 seconds per animal he could name 20 per minute, 1200 per hour, 9600 in an 8-hour working day. Okay, I doubt he kept up a rapid-fire pace of naming for 8 straight hours, but he could have named several thousand animals in a day.

If you want to take the story symbolically or allegorically, then the whole question becomes moot. If it's all just a symbolic story and none of it really happenned, then it's meaningless to talk about how long it took.

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Perfect. I had the same question myself regarding Chapter 2. Makes sense that it's really a further explanation of what was created on days 5 & 6 - namely, animals and mankind. –  Yuck Jul 9 at 14:52

Genesis chapter 2 is a telling of the creation account from the perspective of Adam; that is to say it was Adam-centered. First God thought to create man, man needed a home, man needed food, man needed work (taking care of the animals, among other things). The chronological order of creation is found in Genesis chapter 1. Therein we find that creation took 6 days, with God resting on the 7th day.

Since the concept of day doesn't have to mean one 24-hour period, especially since these days started being counted before there was a 24-hour day as we know it, this period of 6 days could be thousands or millions of years. The scriptures relate a day to a year (Eze 4:6), a day to 1,000 years (2 Pe 3:8), a day to a period (day's of Noah, Luke 17:26), or a day to a period corresponding to an event (day of fury, Zeph 1:15). Furthermore, the creative account in the Bible of 6 days doesn't even take in to account things that were created before the 6 days began.

As to the 'evening and morning' part of the verses, consider that it says that even about the first 'day' in which there were still no luminaries (though there are day and night by that time). Additionally, if you note 2:2-3 it mentions that God proceeded to rest (note the original verb tenses here, many translations read 'God rested') implying that the resting has continued. Furthermore, at Heb 4:1-11 Paul indicated that God was still in the 7th day of rest, some 4,000 years after Adam's creation. Also, it seems that the 1,000 year reign of Christ will also be included in God's day of rest as Jesus is called "Lord of the sabbath" (Mt 12:8; Re 20:1-6).

Simply put, the creation of all things took longer than one 24-hour day, but it could be said that all creation occurred in Jehovah's creative day.

In response to your comment on this question consider that Ge 2:23 records Adam as saying 'This is at last bone of my bones...'. That would certainly imply that Adam had been alive for much longer than a single day before Eve was created. Additionally, Adam had to name the creatures on the earth. This job could have taken quite some time, especially since the account mentions that Jehovah brought the animals to Adam to see what Adam would call them, which could imply a period of observation. Then the text adds that there 'was found no helper as a complement of him' further implying that time had passed for the search and for Adam to notice that all animals had a helper/complement but he didn't.

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But the text says, "There was evening and there was morning, one day." That would seem to rule out the "days" of Genesis 1 being long periods of time. –  Jay Mar 1 '12 at 6:42
    
@Jay, I've updated my answer to include information addressing your comment. –  cjbarth Mar 1 '12 at 13:48
    
Genesis says that the first thing God created was light. It doesn't say how this light was distributed, it what direction the light rays -- if there were light rays -- moved, etc. The Sun was not created til later, but so what? The Sun is not the only possible light source. Right now I'm typing this under the light of an electric lamp. From the fact that it says that there was evening and morning on the first day, that implies that the Earth was rotating by that time and light was coming primarily from a single direction, so that the rotation caused day and night. (continued ...) –  Jay Mar 2 '12 at 8:15
    
(continued ...) Whether God created some temporary light source to fulfill this role until he created the Sun, whether he created a stream of photons with no conventional source, or made some other arrangement, is beyond the scope of the text. –  Jay Mar 2 '12 at 8:17
    
I'm not sure how you conclude that the words "at last" imply more than one day. I'm not sure what the connotations of the original Hebrew are. New King James simply translates it "now". But even applying the English connotations, I've had plenty of times that I've said "At last I'm done with this job" or similar words when it took me several hours. Someone having trouble breathing or suffering a heart attack might well consider their trouble to "at last" be over after a few minutes. (continued ...) –  Jay Mar 2 '12 at 8:22

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