The Hebrew word for 'day' in the Genesis account is 'yom,' which like the english word 'day,' usually means a 24 hour period but can also mean a long indefinite period, like we say this is the day of social media.
The real problem with the age-of-earth dispute – which is eroding credibility of the Bible – is not the Bible itself. As shown in the verses above, the Bible and science are compatible in saying that the earth is very old (much older than 10,000 years).
A new Gallup Poll (see it) shows that most church-going people believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Where do they get that idea? Not from scientists ... not direct from the Bible ... but from theologians and clergy who say the earth was created relatively recently in six calendar days.
After centuries of teaching this, it is now difficult for theologians and clergy to change position. It seems like admitting to a mistake. Actually, it's not a mistake. It's just learning from new discoveries. Failure to change position now with conclusive scientific evidence for an old earth is to further destroy credibility of the Bible and to be disingenuous in interpreting it.
But changing position regarding age of the earth is much more than just assenting to a certain range of years. Changing positions on age undermines other doctrines firmly entrenched in the traditions of most churches.
For example, most churches teach that the earth was a perfect paradise before Adam ate forbidden fruit, that there had not been any death on earth before Adam sinned. But when we say that the earth is billions of years old, there had to be death before Adam ... therefore, death is not caused by sin (contradicting the paradise doctrine of most churches).
Calculation of Bible genealogies (see 1.3.3) show that Adam lived about 6,000 years ago. If we believe that the earth is very old and that archaeological discoveries and dating of uncovered civilizations is correct, there were people and cities long before Adam ... therefore, Adam was not the first human being (contradicting the Adam-first doctrine of most churches).
Most churches teach that every human being is born with 'original sin' (Adam's sin and guilt inherited by us, see 1.4.3). But how could every human being have original sin if people had been living and dying for thousands of years before Adam sinned?
These and other challenges to traditional belief arise when we say that the earth is very old. It's much easier to say simply that the earth is young ... but people today are very smart and deserve better answers from Christians.
For people who think deeply about it, shifting from a young earth view to an old earth view is a challenge to many other long-held traditional beliefs, and some beliefs might fall like dominos. This is a grave threat to many traditional Christians who will fight all re-thinking, even when based on thorough Bible study.
Actually, new thinking is good if it comes from new information and deeper study. It is especially good if it removes stumbling blocks to faith and enables us to be more effective in fulfilling our commission to make more disciples.
The initial topics on this site discuss six traditional church doctrines that are challenged by a new perspective on time:
Most Christians just believe these doctrines because that's what they have been told, from generation to generation without serious questioning, for hundreds of years, never engaging in a deep personal study of the actual words of the Bible.
In this site, all relevant portions of scripture on each topic are laid out for you so you can read with your own eyes and reach your own conclusions. Many old conflicts will melt away.