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Did God Create the Earth in Six 24-Hour Days?

Updated: Jun 1

Biblical Account of Creation

The opening chapters of Genesis provide the foundation for understanding the creation of the world. Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This verse sets the stage for the creation narrative, indicating that God's creation of the universe had a definitive starting point. The phrase "in the beginning" does not specify a particular time frame, which aligns with the understanding that the universe's origin is not bound to human time constraints.

Genesis 1:2 introduces a primordial earth: "Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." This verse describes the earth in a state of chaos and darkness, setting the stage for the ordered creation that follows.

The Six Days of Creation

The account of the six days of creation in Genesis 1 is often the center of debate regarding the length of these "days." The Hebrew word for "day," yom, is used in various contexts in the Bible to denote different lengths of time. For instance, Genesis 2:4 refers to the entire creation period as "the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven," using yom to describe the whole creative process.

Each day of creation in Genesis 1 is described with a specific sequence: "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day" (Genesis 1:5). This pattern continues for the six days. However, the phrase "evening and morning" can be interpreted symbolically, indicating the completion of a period rather than a literal 24-hour day.

Scriptural Evidence for Extended Periods

Further evidence supporting extended creative periods is found in Psalm 90:4: "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night." This verse highlights the disparity between human perception of time and God's eternal nature. Similarly, 2 Peter 3:8 echoes this sentiment: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." These passages underscore the concept that God's timeframe vastly differs from human temporal understanding.

Creation and Science

Modern scientific findings suggest that the universe is approximately 14 billion years old. This scientific perspective does not inherently conflict with the biblical account when understood within the framework of extended creative periods. The Genesis account can be seen as describing the order and process of creation rather than specifying a precise duration for each "day."

Genesis 1:31 concludes the creation narrative with, "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." This declaration emphasizes the completion and goodness of God's creation, regardless of the specific time frame involved.

Creation of Life

Genesis 1:11-12 describes the creation of plant life: "And God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.' And it was so." The phrase "each according to its kind" suggests that God created distinct categories of life, capable of reproduction within their kinds. This aligns with the observable stability of species over time, even as they exhibit variations within their kinds.

In Genesis 1:21-25, the creation of animal life follows a similar pattern: "So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." This orderly process continues with the creation of land animals, each "according to its kind," emphasizing the distinctiveness and purposefulness of God's creative acts.

The Creation of Humans

The climax of the creation account is the creation of humans in Genesis 1:26-27: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." The creation of humans as the image-bearers of God signifies the unique role and responsibility bestowed upon humanity.

Genesis 2:7 provides further detail on the creation of man: "Then Jehovah God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." This intimate act of creation highlights the personal and intentional nature of God's work in creating humanity.

Interpretation of the Creative Days

Understanding the "days" of creation as extended periods rather than literal 24-hour days harmonizes with both the biblical text and scientific observations. This interpretation does not diminish the authority or accuracy of Scripture but rather enhances our comprehension of God's creative power and the grandeur of His work.

The six days of creation can be viewed as a literary framework, emphasizing the order and purposefulness of God's creative acts. Each "day" serves to illustrate a phase in the unfolding of God's plan, culminating in the creation of humans and the establishment of a world designed for their habitation.

Isaiah 45:18 affirms God's intent for the earth: "For thus says Jehovah, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): 'I am Jehovah, and there is no other.'" This verse underscores the purposefulness of creation, emphasizing that God created the earth to be a place where life can flourish.

Conclusion on Creation and Evolution

The biblical account of creation firmly rejects the idea that God used evolution as a means of creating life. Genesis 1:24 states, "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.' And it was so." This verse indicates that God created distinct kinds of animals directly, without the intermediary process of evolution.

Furthermore, the concept of kinds reproducing "according to their kinds" suggests stability within created categories, allowing for variation and adaptation but not for the transformation of one kind into another. This understanding aligns with the biblical depiction of creation as an intentional and direct act of God.

The biblical narrative consistently portrays God's creative work as intentional, purposeful, and distinct. The six days of creation, whether understood as literal 24-hour periods or extended epochs, reveal the majesty and power of God in bringing the universe into existence and shaping it into a habitable world for humanity.

In examining the creation account, it is essential to recognize the harmonious relationship between the biblical text and the natural world. The Bible provides a framework for understanding the order and purpose of creation, while scientific discoveries offer insights into the processes and timescales involved. Together, they enhance our appreciation of the intricacy and grandeur of God's creative work.


Refuting the Critic's Arguments Against the Biblical Creation Account

The Biblical Creation Days as Periods of Time

Biblical Context and Interpretation: The critic's argument rests on the assumption that the days in Genesis must be literal 24-hour periods. However, the Hebrew word "yom" used for "day" in Genesis can refer to various lengths of time, depending on the context. Genesis 2:4 refers to the entire creation period as a "day": "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens." This usage indicates that "day" can mean a period longer than 24 hours.

Scientific Correlation: The Bible does not specify when "the beginning" occurred, leaving room for scientific estimates of the earth's age. Genesis 1:1 simply states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," without specifying a time frame. This statement does not conflict with scientific principles or the estimated age of the earth.

Addressing Specific Scientific Criticisms

Gravity and Gas Pressure in the Early Universe: The critic argues that in the early universe, gravity could not overcome gas pressure to form stars due to the lack of stars or pressure differentials. However, the process of star formation, as understood by modern astrophysics, involves the gradual cooling and condensation of gas clouds under gravity, eventually leading to the formation of stars. This process does not necessitate pre-existing stars but relies on the physical laws governing gas dynamics and gravity.

Age of the Universe and Star Formation: The critic claims that the time required for phenomena like supernovae to create pressure differentials implies a universe trillions of years old. This is a misunderstanding of stellar evolution. Stars of different masses have different lifespans, with massive stars living relatively short lives (millions of years) and ending in supernovae, while smaller stars can live for billions of years. The current estimated age of the universe (approximately 13.8 billion years) is consistent with the observed stages of stellar evolution.

Computer Models and Confirmation Bias: The critic suggests that computer models are inherently biased. While it is true that models can be manipulated, scientific models are rigorously tested against observational data. For instance, models of stellar formation and galaxy evolution are constantly refined based on new observations, such as those provided by the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes.

Geologic Formations and the Flood: The critic argues for a global flood based on the presence of turbidites and flat layers in the Earth's crust, claiming these are a result of a flood. However, geological evidence supports uniformitarianism, the principle that geological processes occurring today also occurred in the past. Turbidites and other sedimentary structures can form through various processes over millions of years, not necessarily a single global flood. The theory of plate tectonics and the observation of stratified rock layers with distinct fossil records also support long-term geological processes rather than a single catastrophic event.

Second Law of Thermodynamics: The critic claims that geological formations violate the second law of thermodynamics. This law states that entropy in a closed system tends to increase, leading to homogenization. However, Earth is not a closed system; it receives energy from the sun, which drives complex processes that can create order from disorder, such as the formation of complex structures through hydrodynamic sorting.

Distant Starlight and the Age of the Universe: The critic misunderstands the implications of distant starlight. The Hubble constant, which describes the rate of expansion of the universe, provides evidence for the universe's age. Observations of distant galaxies and the redshift of their light show that the universe is expanding, which can be traced back to a singular beginning point (the Big Bang) approximately 13.8 billion years ago. This empirical data aligns with the timeframes suggested by the interpretation of "days" in Genesis as long periods.

Biblical and Scientific Harmony

Consistent with Genesis 1:1: Genesis 1:1 provides a framework for understanding the creation of the universe without specifying a timeline that contradicts scientific findings. The Bible states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," which can encompass the entire process of cosmic evolution, from the Big Bang to the formation of the earth and life on it.

Light on the First Day and Celestial Bodies on the Fourth Day: The critic’s claim that young stars do not prove an old universe misunderstands the biblical creation sequence. The Bible indicates that light appeared on the first day (Genesis 1:3-5), while the specific formation of the sun, moon, and stars as seen from Earth occurred on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19). This sequence aligns with the understanding that the earth's atmosphere became clear enough for these celestial bodies to be visible from the surface.

Understanding Epochs in Creation: The six days of creation described in Genesis can be understood as six epochs or periods of time during which God prepared the earth for habitation. This interpretation allows for the integration of biblical text with scientific evidence, supporting the view that the Bible and science are not at odds.

Conclusion on the Critics' Misunderstandings

The arguments presented by the critic reveal a misunderstanding of both scientific principles and biblical interpretation. By acknowledging the flexibility of the Hebrew word "yom" and the context of Genesis, it is possible to harmonize the biblical creation account with scientific evidence. This approach upholds the truth of the Bible while recognizing the validity of scientific discoveries, demonstrating that faith and science can coexist without conflict.

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).


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