The original question was:
Why do you insist on six literal days when many of the ancient church leaders comment including godly men such as Origen, Justin Martyr and John Calvin believe the Bible speaks of our universe as very old. They (Calvin etc.) pointed out that the Hebrew word for “yom” can also mean a long period of time – even millions or billions of years.

Answer by John Mackay

What did Calvin say?

The following quotes from Calvin’s 1536 Institutes of the Christian Religion, p142, Book 1, Chapter 14 will help you decide what Calvin actually said. Calvin wrote: With the same view Moses relates that the work of creation was accomplished not in one moment, but in six days. By this statement we are drawn away from fiction to the one God who thus divided his work into six days, that we may have no reluctance to devote our whole lives to the contemplation of it.

He also stated: Similar is the madness of those who charge God with idleness in not having pleased them by creating the world countless ages sooner than He did create it. In their cupidity they affect to go beyond the world, as if the ample circumference of heaven and earth did not contain objects numerous and resplendent enough to absorb all our senses; as if, in the period of six thousand years, God had not furnished facts enough to exercise our minds in ceaseless meditation.

Notice that John Calvin referred to 6,000 years from the beginning of creation to his day. Calvin wrote this 114 years before Archbishop Ussher published his famous 4004 BC date of creation. Calvin also stated on p.157 of Book 1: Moreover, as I lately observed, the Lord himself, by the very order of creation, has demonstrated that he created all things for the sake of man. Nor is it unimportant to observe, that he divided the formation of the world into six days, though it had been in no respect more difficult to complete the whole work, in all its parts, in one moment than by a gradual progression.


It would seem to be undeniable that Calvin believed the six days in Genesis, and the whole chronology of Genesis, was literal, and that the issue is a vital one to the teaching of Scripture. Modern thinkers should therefore get two points straight:

First: Check your facts before you defame Reformation teachers to back up modern old earth, theistic evolutionary views that claim scripture must be interpreted in the light of current scientific theories.

Second: The key issue is what the Bible has to say about men, not what famous men (even Calvin) may say about the Bible. For more information on Genesis days and the age of the earth read the Creation Research article How Long are Genesis Days? by Simon Turpin. Download PDF here.

Check out the answers to related questions:

Were the days of creation, as described in Genesis 1, real 24 hour days?

Genesis does not say the 7th day ended. Could this mean the days are not 24 hour days?

Where does the age for the earth of around 6,000 years come from?

Did Jesus believe 6 day creation because he was fully man and therefore ignorant of modern science?

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