Is it consistent with biblical inerrancy to believe that the Genesis days are long periods of time?
Isn't this a compromise with evolution?
Unfortunately, it has become stylish in some circles to claim belief in inerrancy while holding beliefs which are foreign to the Bible. Those who do this generally argue that the biblical material they choose not to accept "is open to interpretation." Following this principle, nearly everything in Scripture could be questioned while the questioner continued to claim that he holds to inerrancy.
If one holds to the inerrancy of Scripture, it means that there is only one interpreter of Scripture. Scripture is not to be understood in light of the claims of modern science, well-known scholars or our own limitations. Rather, Scripture must be allowed to interpret Scripture. No one or nothing else is adequate for the job.
Let's apply this principle to the word "day" in Genesis one. The word "day" (yom, in the Hebrew), whenever used in the Old Testament with a number or whenever used with the phrase "evening and morning" or "dark and light" always means a 24-hour day. If you go to any other passage in the Old Testament – using the word "day" which falls under either of these rules and try to understand the word "day" as anything other than a literal 24-hour day – you will get nonsense out of the passage. So we apply this clear rule, which the Holy Spirit has built into Scripture, to the use of the word "day" in Genesis chapter one.
If we approach the text this way, we are left with no choice but to conclude that the creation days, including days six and seven, were literal 24-hour days. That is, unless we are going to impose some standard from outside Scripture onto the text. And if we do that, we have abandoned the historical Christian position that Scripture is the verbally inspired, objectively inerrant Word of God.
Even Hebrew scholars who reject inerrancy and creation have acknowledged that the Hebrew of Genesis one clearly indicates that the writer meant literal, 24-hour days.
It is unfortunate that individuals who claim to accept inerrancy have given up on this historical position of believers. You should be aware that those who give up the historical position on inerrancy don't wake up one morning and proclaim that Gospel accounts of Christ's life are complete fiction. They usually start by questioning some small section of Scripture – usually something in Genesis. They argue that they still believe in God the Creator, but there is this or that little section which just doesn't seem logical. And this is when the nature of Scripture comes into question.
To paraphrase a Christian writer of another generation, to claim belief in inerrancy and then to resort to questioning the clarity of a clear text is the height of chicanery and cowardice.