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Bible: God created dinosaurs on earth before Adam in day 6
PURPOSE: Helping Christians engage in intelligent conversations with doubters and unbelievers

Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

What God created each 'day'

We don't have details

We don't have details about when and how God created the world. Even if He told us, our human minds could not comprehend it.

But we do know two fundamental facts about His creation, clearly stated in the Bible:

  1. God created the world in six distinct stages ('days,' ages, or eras), and
  2. Each stage of creation came in a particular order: from no life ... to simple life ... to complex life, culminating with humans, created in His image, who can have a relationship with Him and have eternal life.

There is an infinite number of ways God could have designed and created the world. It's not our place to critique what He did, or could have done, but to acknowledge what He actually did, and how He did it, for whatever reasons, as best we can understand from the expanding evidence now available to us.

Viewpoint from tradition

The traditional Christian belief is that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days, all in the same week He created Adam, which Bible genealogies show to be approximately BC 4000. (Some Bible scholars say there are gaps in the genealogies and that the time should be stretched by as much as another 4,000 years, to about BC 8000.)

This tradition still holds today for most regular church attenders in America, as evidenced by Gallup, the largest and most trusted survey organization in America, which has been tracking it with the same question every three years for the last 37 years: 'Which of the following statements come closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?'

The percentage has been dropping slowly over the years, but the latest Gallup Poll on the subject, 68% of respondents who said they attend church every week chose this response: 'God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.'

This large random sample of the entire U.S. population included Catholics and Protestants and was taken in 2019, just before the Covid pandemic.

The present situation is similar to times past when Christians quoted Bible verses to 'prove' that the earth is flat ('four corners of the earth' and 'ends of the earth,' Job 37:3 and other verses) and that the earth is not moving ('He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved,' Psalm 104:5 and other verses).

We now know that the earth is round and rotates around the sun. Christians had a misguided interpretation of some Bible verses based on how little they knew about the earth hundreds of years ago. The new knowledge did not in any way diminish God's marvelous creation. In fact, it showed that God's creation is more marvelous than people could ever even imagine.

Viewpoint from strongest evidence

If we truly believe that God reveals Himself to us both through His Word (Bible, special revelation) AND His World (science, general revelation), the two revelations need to be in harmony for answering this question: Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

Based on actual Bible statements and modern knowledge about the world as we find it, here is an interpretation of the creation 'days' when not constrained by 24-hour tradition:

DAY 1 – Light
'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.' – Genesis 1:1-2

: 'Let there be light, and there was light.' – Genesis 1:3

About nine billion years may have passed between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:3.

The Biblical account of creation is seen from the perspective of earth. The universe is about fourteen billion years old, the sun about five billion, and the earth about four-and-a-half billion.

Because of intense heat, the earth was vaporized and gaseous ('formless and empty') for most of its existence.

'Darkness was over the face of the deep' because light cannot penetrate intense heat. Eventually, a crust (face) started to form over the molten rock.

'The spirit of God was hovering over the waters.' God was getting ready to do something special on planet earth. The earth was cooling, and steam was condensing into pockets of water on the crust.

Now the earth is ready for God to begin His six creative stages of shaping and populating the earth.

God's first creation was light. Light is the primary requirement for life. Light is so amazing that it cannot be defined by anything other than itself. See the list here showing 14 attributes of light, both physically and spiritually.

DAY 2 – Atmosphere
THEN GOD SAID: 'Let there be an expanse between the waters ... so God separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.' – Genesis 1:6-7

God created an atmosphere ('expanse') of life-sustaining air between the condensed water on the ground (oceans and lakes) and the vaporized water in the clouds, the expanse of space in which He would create life.

This is the narrow space in the universe in which we live (not requiring supplemental oxygen), approximately 15,000 feet of breathable air around the earth's surface.

The atmosphere makes the earth habitable by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun to warm the earth's surface, giving us air for breathing and rain for vegetation.

DAY 3 – Land and vegetation
THEN GOD SAID: 'Let dry ground appear ... let the land produce vegetation.' – Genesis 1:9-11

As the temperature cooled on the earth's surface, the thickening crust (floating on molten rock) began cracking, shifting, and buckling. At God's command, huge parts of the crust (tectonic plates) were thrust above water to form dry land.

Eventually light began to glow through the dense cloud cover and support simple organic life.

The Biblical account of creation is seen from the human perspective of land on earth. First life on earth was tiny organisms like bacteria, about four billion years ago. Then came simple vegetation at the edges of water and land.

Ancient people would not have understood microorganisms and biological processes, so the Bible skips directly to vegetation they knew, but this happened over a very long period of time.

DAY 4 – Direct sunlight
THEN GOD SAID: 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky ... let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years ... God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.' – Genesis 1:14-16

All celestial bodies were created from the Big Bang, starting as formless spinning gasses, too hot for light to penetrate. It took billions of years for them to merge, cool, solidify and achieve stable orbits.

Eventually, there were breaks in the thinning cloud cover so that the sun, moon, and stars became visible from the human vantage point.

Light existed since Day 1, but the sun had been obscured by dense cloud cover and unable to provide the photosynthesis needed for the rapid growth of large plants trees and the visibility for bird migrations, human navigation, and schedules.

Now we usually have clear skies, and the earth's surface is exposed to direct sunlight.

For centuries the Bible's creation order was used by critics as irrefutable proof that the Bible is not trustworthy. They said it's impossible to have light (Day 1) and organic growth (Day 3) before the sun (Day 4).

But now that we understand the Big Bang – that early organic life on earth was under extremely dense perpetual cloud cover – the biblical creation order makes sense. No writer three thousand years ago could have possibly known this modern science without some direct knowledge from the Designer/Creator.

DAY 5 – Fish and birds
THEN GOD SAID: 'Let the water team with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky ... So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems ... and every winged bird ... God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and increase in number ...' – Genesis 1:20-22

With direct sunlight, vegetation proliferated, especially in water, and became an abundant food source for new categories of life – fish and birds – which God created about 500 million years ago.

The above verses in Genesis do not preclude the likelihood that there were already some very simple forms of marine and avian life (as plankton and flying insects). The main point here seems to be that God created an enormous number of new creatures – large complex creatures – all with the capacity to move about freely, unlike the stationary life of prior life forms, and God caused them to proliferate rapidly.

This is what scientists call the Cambrian explosion, the quick appearance of a massive amount of new life forms. Darwin said that the Cambrian explosion is his biggest problem with his own theory of evolution. He was perplexed to acknowledge that so many new species of life could appear almost at once.

About 250 million years ago, a new kind of creature appeared, what we call dinosaurs. We know from archaeology that there were more than 700 species of dinosaurs of all sizes and types – from five pounds to fifty tons – some swam, some flew, some also walked – and they dominated the earth for 175 million years.

Scientists now believe that modern birds are descendants of small avian dinosaurs that escaped a mass extinction 66 million years ago. All non-flying dinosaurs and three-fourths of all other species of life on earth were killed in that extinction, thought to be caused by an enormous meteorite about six miles wide crashing into the ocean near the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in scorching fires throughout the earth, radioactivity, volcanic eruptions and the sun hidden for years by dust.

Various kinds of dinosaurs were the dominant part of God's creation in Day 5, but the Bible never mentions them, probably because they went extinct and no one in Bible times could comprehend the timeframe or believe that these creatures actually existed. It wasn't until modern archaeology that people were able to see and believe these creatures.

Modern taxonomy classifies all dinosaurs as reptiles.

On Day 5, there was extensive proliferation and evolution of fish and bird species, including reptiles, throughout the earth, expanding the food chain, getting ready for animals and humans in the next stage of life.

In each successive stage, God created new life forms of increasing complexity: In Day 3, life from seeds ... in Day 5, life from eggs ... in Day 6, life from live births.

DAY 6 – Animals and humans
THEN GOD SAID: 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals ... God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.' – Genesis 1:24-27

Shortly after the great extinction 66 million years ago, God created a new kind of creature – animals – adapted to the new environment.

Then, several million years ago – very recent in geological time – God created a very unique kind of intelligent bipedal creatures known as hominids and hominins, with a physical form very similar to today's apes and humans, all having 95-97% identical DNA.

The last known hominin population (Neanderthals) was in Europe and vanished suddenly about 30,000 years ago.

The Bible never mentions hominins, probably because they went extinct and because few people in Bible times could comprehend a time span of millions of years or believe that soulless creatures (before Adam) looking somewhat like humans actually existed. The Bible account goes direct from animals to humans.

Archaeological digs reveal the first evidence of humans about 40,000 years ago. Hominins and humans may have coexisted at one time, and apparently, there was some interbreeding because today Europeans and Asians have approximately 2% Neanderthal DNA, but other groups have little or none. This low percentage is further evidence that humans did not evolve from hominins. Humans are a special creation.

God said: 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move upon the ground.'

The concluding act of the six stages of creation was God's creation of humans, made in the likeness of God, not evolved, created with the capacity to have a relationship with God, rule the earth, and have eternal life – the crowning jewel of God's creation!

DAY 7 – Pause / rest / present time
THE BIBLE SAYS: 'Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array ... And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy [worthy of honor], because on it he rested [paused] from all the work of creating he had done.' – Genesis 2:1-3

A concluding statement is used to end each of the six days of creation – 'And there was evening, and there was morning – the [number] day' – but not used for the seventh day of rest, meaning that this day has not yet ended. We are still in the seventh day (stage).

God is not making new creations during this pause, but procreation and evolution within categories continues. God has equipped humans with a unique body, mind, and soul to rule the earth and do creative work to further fashion life on earth.

Other portions of the Bible tell us that in a future day (stage), God will take back rule of the earth from humans and will resume creative work ... a new heaven and a new earth ... (Revelation 21:1-5, 2 Peter 3:10-13, Isaiah 65:17-19, and more).

The Bible tells sequence but is silent about the time

The Bible gives the order of first appearance of earth's life forms but does not give actual times or time spans.

The order summarized above – the six 'days' of creation reported in the Bible – is essentially the same order confirmed today by cosmologists, geologists, biologists, and archaeologists.

This order is not intuitive. The ancient writer of Genesis could not have known God's method and sequence more than three thousand years ago without special knowledge direct from the Creator.

Now modern science is filling in the time blanks, and a re-reading of the creation story opens our eyes to a new understanding of God's unfolding master plan.

In 2 Peter 3:8, the Apostle Peter acknowledges that 'day' (Hebrew yō·wm) can be used as a time variable: 'But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.'


Thinkers Bible Studies / Topic 1.2


Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

for an informed answer
Insight 1: Bible credibility

Why timing matters

The real issue here is whether or not the Bible is a credible book of truth. People conclude that if the Bible is wrong about our origin, it's probably wrong about our destiny too. This is a big barrier to faith.
Insight 2: yō·wm is Hebrew word for Bible creation day

'Day' (Hebrew yō·wm) is an 'age'

From the original Hebrew manuscripts, the word 'yō·wm' has been translated as 'day' in English. This is a correct translation but it can mean either a 24-hour period or a long indefinite time, depending upon the context. See how a careful reading of the creation account in Genesis 1 shows that 'day' is a long period of time.
Insight 3: What God created in each 'day'

What God created in each 'day'

See what God made in each stage of His master design plan. The sequential order is not intuitive, but now confirmed by modern science. The ancient writer of Genesis could not have known God's method and sequence more than three thousand years ago without special knowledge direct from the Creator.

Meaning of 'evening' and 'morning'

The Bible uses a repetitive phrase at the conclusion of each stage of creation, but that doesn't necessarily mean a 24-hour period. In fact, time as we know it didn't even exist until visibility of the sun in Day 4.

Evolution is only within walled categories

There is abundant evidence of evolution within each major category of life, but a life form in one category never morphs into a life form in another category. Humans are not evolved but are a special creation in God's own image. The attributes that most define humans – intellect, laughter, music, art, mathematics, language, worship, etc. – are not evolutionary.

Real age, not 'apparent age'

The apparent age theory says that the earth is not actually old but just looks old. This theory is not biblical, requires a world of fakes, and is incompatible with God's character. God is not deceptive.  

Bible gives eight reasons for long 'day'

See eight passages of scripture which show, right from the Bible, that creation 'day' is longer than a 24-hour calendar day. These verses are usually overlooked in a casual reading of the first three chapters of Genesis.

Tradition vs. Bible

Common Christian belief about the days of creation comes more from tradition than from the Bible. Theologians have debated it for centuries. Prominent theologians have concluded that the Bible does not compel a 24-hour meaning for each 'day.' See reasons why this topic is usually buried in silence.

Here's where we combine the eight Insights to get an informed biblical answer: Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

The insights here are like pieces of a puzzle. Put the pieces together and see the big picture! Now you'll be prepared to engage intelligently and coherently with anyone on the subject of God's creation days. Also see reader comments.
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Helping Christians engage in intelligent and coherent conversations with doubters and unbelievers