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Bible creation 'days'

Earth cools and life develops
What traditional Christians think

Universe was created in six days

The typical traditional Christian belief – at least the publicly stated belief – is that the entire universe was created in six 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 68% of weekly church attenders still believe this short timeline.

The basis for this belief is Genesis 1 – the first chapter in the Bible – which says that God created everything in six 'days,' presumed to be 24-hour calendar days.

Traditional Christians believe that humans have been on earth since the beginning of time (first week).

For centuries, without questioning, this is what children have been taught in Sunday School and adults have been taught from the pulpit.

Big bang in bible
What doubters think

Universe was created over billions of years

The universe began with the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago. Life on earth first appeared about four billion years ago and has been evolving ever since. Some think it all happened by 'natural selection' without God, and others think it happened at God's direction, but all doubters agree that the formation process was longer than six days.

Doubters – like nearly everyone except traditional Christians – believe that humans have come on the scene only relatively recently in the long history of life on earth.

"They're stupid'

'Stupid' is a harsh word but used often by doubters and unbelievers to express what they think of hard-line Christians with respect to knowledge of science and history.

They can't understand why any educated person today could still believe that humans were already on earth just five days after the Big Bang and lived in same time and place as dinosaurs. They think these kind of Christians must be 'brainwashed' by their church and are probably indoctrinated beyond reason regarding other matters, too.

Big bang in bible
Barriers to faith

• Does the Bible really say that the earth and everything in it was created in six 24-hour days?

• Comparing the Bible with science, do primary life forms come in the same or different order of first appearance?

• Why doesn't the Bible mention dinosaurs and hominids?

• Are humans an evolved animal?

• Have humans been on earth since the beginning (first week) of time?

• Is Covid-19 an example of evolution?

• Can a Christian believe in evolution?

• Are science and the Bible incompatible?

Big bang in bible
See what the Bible actually says

Bible credibility is the issue

The primary reason why getting it right about geological time is important is because it reflects on credibility of the Bible in the minds of educated people.

People will think that if the Bible is wrong about when life began, the Bible is probably wrong about other matters, too. If the Bible isn't trustworthy regarding our origin, it isn't trustworthy regarding our destiny either. If Christians don't have it right about physical matters, they probably don't have it right about spiritual matters either.

There are two ways that God reveals truth to us: Nature (general revelation) and the Bible (special revelation). What God reveals in nature cannot contradict what he reveals in Scripture, and vice versa, because God does not contradict himself.

Now we encounter the word 'day' (of creation) which seems to cause a major contradiction between what science has proven and what the Bible says. Either (a) science is wrong or (b) the Bible is wrong or (c) our interpretation of the Bible is wrong. Which is it? Finding the answer is the purpose of this Bible study.
This section gives reasons for concluding that 'day' in Genesis 1 is more than 24 hours, in agreement with science


See exactly what
the Bible says
Tap above for study of Genesis 1 & 2
finding answer to this question
Does the Bible mean
calendar-day or age-day?

See deep Bible study on 'day' (Hebrew 'yom')

The young earth concept is totally out of synch with modern science, due to the single Hebrew word ('yom') which is translated 'day' in English translations of the Bible.

The Bible is it's own best interpreter. The deep study on this topic shows, right from the Bible itself, direct from the Genesis 1 creation account, that the word 'yom' should be understood to mean a long indefinite period of time.

Centuries ago, the young earth concept became a part of church creeds. For example, the Westminister Confession (written 1647 but still extensively used) states that the earth was created 'in the space of six days.' Whenever a concept becomes imbedded in formal doctrine in church denominations and seminaries, it becomes almost like heresy within the group to even question it, even in light of new information.

In earlier times – especially hundreds of years ago – it was necessary to travel to specialized libraries in various cities of the world to thoroughly research a subject like this because ordinary libraries did not have the needed books and documents. But now almost all universal knowledge is available to everyone on the Internet, and today we know much more than in years past.

An erroneous interpretation of the ancient Hebrew word 'yom' makes Christians seem uninformed at best, stupid at worst, and this is a handicap in presenting the gospel.

This single Hebrew word 'yom' – investigated in Micro Topic 1.2.1 on this site – has created a huge barrier to Christian faith.

'Day' is a geological age

Summary of deep study

Micro Topic 1.2.1 is a study of the text in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, the biblical account of creation. The study shows that 'day' in this creation context means a long indefinite period of time.

Click to see TEN REASONS for believing that creation 'day' is longer than 24 hours:

1.2.1 Creation 'day' not 24 hours

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

The essential order summarized in the table above, from the Bible, is confirmed by cosmologists, geologists, biologists and archaeologists.

It is unlikely that the ancient writer of Genesis could have known this method and sequence without special knowledge from God.

Now modern science is filling in the time blanks, and a re-reading of Genesis 1 opens our eyes to new understanding of God's unfolding master plan.

In the English translation of Genesis 1, each stage of creation is called a 'day'. In the original Hebrew language in which the biblical account was written, the word is 'yom' (pronounced like home).

Just as in English, Hebrew 'yom' usually means a 24-hour period but can also mean a long indefinite period, depending upon context (as we say, this is day of the jet plane, this is the day of social media, etc.).

In 2 Peter 3:8, the Apostle shows how day 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.'

Real age, not 'apparent age'

Some traditional Christians say that the earth is not actually old but just looks old, that it was created about 6,000 years ago with built-in apparent age. See Micro Topic 1.2.3 for the fatal flaw in the apparent age theory.

What about evolution?

Evolution needs definition

'Evolution' is an emotionally charged word for some Christians. It frequently implies a universe that happened by itself without God.

Actually, biological 'evolution' just means the process of gradual change that takes place over many generations, during which species of plants, animals and other life forms slowly arise, change physical characteristics and eventually die out.

More than 99% of all species that have ever lived on earth are estimated to have died out. We know this from archaeological finds, and we observe hundreds of species dying out every year.

Basically, there are two principal ways people think about evolution:

  • Godless evolution: God has no part in it. Life just happened by itself from nothing, without design, by random chance and survival of the fittest; believed by about 22% of Americans.
  • Theistic evolution: The method and timing used by God to form his creation in stages over long periods of time; believed by about 33% of Americans. Belief in theistic evolution does not in any way diminish God as designer/creator or change Christology (birth, life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

And, viewed from another perspective, there are two ways people think about theistic evolution:

  • Single-cell evolution: All life started from a single cell organism that has evolved over time into all life forms.
  • Evolution within categories: There is abundant evolution within each major category of life, but a life form in one category never morphs into a life form in another category, and there is are no in-between life forms.
Nearly all people who believe in Godless evolution also believe in single-cell evolution. Therefore, there are three primary kinds of belief about evolution, illustrated by the diagram.
This site finds overwhelming evidence for View #1.
Certainly God is powerful enough to create all of life from a single cell OR from creations within categories. Many devout Bible-believing Christians believe in singe-cell evolution (View 2). The issue within theistic evolution is not what God is able to do, but rather what God actually did, as best we can understand it.

How much evolution?

More than 99% of all species that have ever lived on earth are estimated to have died out. This is clearly evident from archaeological finds, and we now observe hundreds of species dying out every year.

Evolution is a fact of life. Even staunchest traditional Christians believe that there is at least some degree of evolution at work in nature around us. They regard it as 'micro evolution' that operates within small sub-classifications of plants and animals. Some degree of evolution is indisputable, but how much?

Even from common-sense observation alone, we see that evolution is occurring within the broad categories of life ... but a life form in one category never evolves into a life form in another category.
The categories are walled, as diagrammed here.
Each category, in progression, is a separate new kind of creation at a point in time, each more complex, as outlined in Genesis 1.

Walled categories

Genesis 1 tells where the evolution lines are drawn, corresponding to the 'days,' and it names the categories, as diagrammed above.

Each category is more complex than the one that precedes it ... no life, then life ... reproduction from seeds, then eggs, then live birth ... ultimately humans. Each category is necessary in the food chain for support of the next category.

Common observation confirms that a stone never turns into a bush ... a bush never turns into a fish ... a fish never turns into a bird ... a bird never turns into an animal ... an animal never turns into a human.

The categories are walled. There is evolution within categories, but not between categories.

Humans are becoming larger, stronger and smarter, but the Bible says that humans are not evolving into a higher form of life on earth. The six 'days' (stages) of new creation have ended. Humans are God's crowing creation.

The only thing higher for us is eternal life in a new and better realm of existence, offered through Jesus, as explained throughout this site.

Humans are unique creation

The qualities that most separate humans from animals are NOT evolutionary, such as laughter, music, art, mathematics, language and worship. These qualities are unique to humans, created into us, not evolved into us, and not found in any other creatures.

Man (generic) is not an improved animal. Genesis 1:26 says that God made man in his own image, and we have God-like qualities.

Like God, man is a trinity: body (physical), soul (mind, will and emotion) and spirit (connection to God), to be studied later in Topic 2.5.

Evolutionary theory is limited to body and has no way of coping with soul and spirit, no way of dealing with the total person.

why humans are created, not evolved
> REASON 1. Evolution has boundaries
There are no part-way creatures bridging the categories. The gap between animals and humans is extremely wide, not even close! Genesis 1 defines the boundaries for evolution.
> REASON 2. Bible says humans unique
The Genesis account specifically names humans as a separate category of creation, made in the image of God, with moral and spiritual consciousness, and possibility of eternal life.
> REASON 3. Missing links
If there were evolution from a single cell all the way to man, there would be abundant links, half-way creatures at borders of the main categories. The links are missing, affirming that there is no cross-over.
> REASON 4. Human qualities not evolutionary
The qualities that most separate humans from animals – as laughter, music, art, mathematics, language and worship – are NOT EVOLUTIONARY.
Time perspective

Reality cannot be squeezed

The biblical account of the six 'days' of creation is short and simple, all in the first chapter of Genesis. It was written for and by ancient people who had no understanding of modern science.

The story speaks only about things that were known and observed by them at that time. For example, oceans, lakes, rivers and streams were teeming with plankton then as now, a primary essential ingredient in the marine food chain. But because plankton can be seen only under a microscope, ancients had no idea of their existence, and therefore we would not expect the Bible to mention unseen plankton any more than to mention extinct dinosaurs.

The Bible story tells just enough to show principle features. It is not a detailed story because people then could not understand what we know now.

Even with access to today's vast scientific knowledge, most weekly church attenders still believe that the universe was created less than 10,000 years ago in six 24-hour days. (Gallup Poll has been tracking this for 36 years.)

People who try to squeeze God's majestic creation into six calendar days create unnecessary contradictions. Those same people usually have no trouble believing that continents were formed by shifting tectonic plates (extremely long time!) and that much of the earth's surface was carved by glaciers (extremely long time!). In the beginning were was just one continent (Pangea), and there have been at least five ice ages (with ice more than a mile thick). How then can this person say, if thinking, that all this happened in a week, or at least within the last 10,000 years?

Plate tectonics and glaciers / slow evolution

Plate tectonics. Some things are so large that we don't think of them as evolving. The surface of the earth, for example, is slowly and constantly being reshaped by tectonic plates of crust 5-20 miles thick, floating on molten rock. The sheets collide, cause earthquakes, reshape continents and form mountains. The plates move over vast distances, but at a speed of only and inch or two per year.

Old forest discovered
beneath Arctic ocean
Glaciers. The last glacial period began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 15,000 years ago. Arctic glaciers slid down past the Great Lakes, scaring the landscape and leaving moraines after the melt. Even now, 10% of the world's land surface is still covered by glaciers, and still melting.
There is so much evidence for the times and effects of plate tectonics and glaciers that no informed person doubts that it actually happened. So a claim that the universe is less than 10,000 years old and that all this happened in one week is ludicrous to well-educated people.
It makes God too small and blunts Christian witness when people try to shrink God's limitless time into puny calendar time just to defend a misleading translation of a single Hebrew word.

Bacteria and viruses / fast evolution

Just as evolution works on huge things like tectonic plates and glaciers, so it works on small things like bacteria and coronavirus.

There are now about 10 million species of life on earth that can be seen with the naked eye, but when microorganisms are taken into account, researchers say that the earth might be home to a staggering one trillion species.

Bacteria. Bacteria are the smallest – and perhaps the oldest – creatures on earth. They are single cell, too small to see without a microscope. Bacteria are everywhere, including soil and air. There about 10 trillion bacteria in the human body, and they evolve (mutate) rapidly. Most bacteria are good for the body and essential for human survival, but some (we call them germs) are bad.

Viruses. Even more amazing are viruses, smaller than bacteria; some good, some bad. Unlike bacteria, they do not reproduce by themselves, but they quickly evolve into new forms so that, upon entering a host cell (as a human body), a bad virus can cause the cell to reproduce the intruder's DNA or RNA, resulting in serious infection and disease or even death for the host.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging widely in severity. MERS-CoV, SARS-Cov and COVID-19 are coronaviruses. Because they evolve rapidly – sometimes in hours or days – they can appear suddenly as new deadly species that medical science does not know how to attack.

For most people, the most disastrous world-changing event in our lifetime thus far is COVID-19 ... the rapid evolution of a single microscopic virus and the day in late 2019 when it first entered a human cell. Pandemic is an example of evolution.
Tap video to see discovery of an ancient tropical rainforest under the ocean floor in Antrctic, a current example of how we know that the earth if very old and constantly changing.
Christians should be informed and comfortable in conversations about age of earth and evolution
Related micro topics
Big bang in bible
Bible Creation Days
  • Bible was right. Science agrees that the Bible is accurate in its order of first appearances, a counter-intuitive sequence that would have been unlikely for the Genesis writer to know three thousand years ago without divine revelation from the designer/creator.
  • 'Day' is more than 24 hours. A careful re-reading of Genesis 1 shows that the Hebrew word 'yom' – translated 'day' in English – means a long indefinite period of time.
  • Evolution. Within specific categories – vegetation, fish, birds and animals – there is evolution, adaptation and proliferation over long periods of time. Species come and go. New species are generally better, stronger, smarter than older species. The old makes way for the new and prevents suffocation from over-crowding. This happens all within God's design plan, without any new creative act during this seventh 'day.'
  • Humans. Humans are a special creation, not evolved animals, created in God's own image, the only creature with possibility for eternal life.
  • Importance. Getting it right about origin of the universe is important because it affects credibility of the Bible.
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