Creation and the Age of the Earth
For thousands of years Genesis chapter one has been understood as the original creation of the Universe that took place in six normal, but majestic, days. Within the last two centuries, many have been conned into believing that the billions of years required for evolution must fit somewhere within the first chapter of the Bible. For numerous “Bible believers,” flawed evolutionary dating methods have become the tyrant of biblical interpretation. Therefore, we are told that God spent, not six literal days, but billions of years creating the Universe and everything in it. We frequently hear such statements as: “God is not bound by time;” “God could have taken as much time as He wanted while creating the Universe and everything in it;” and “Billions of years could have elapsed within Genesis 1.” To say that Creation did not last billions of years, supposedly, is to limit Almighty God.
Every Christian readily admits that God is not bound by time. He is the infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). The point, however, is not whether God is outside of time; the crux of the matter is: what has the all-authoritative, eternal Creator revealed to us about His Creation in His all-authoritative Word? God could have created the Universe in any way He so desired, in whatever order He wanted, and in whatever time frame He chose. He could have created the world and everything in it in six hours, six seconds, or in one millisecond—He is, after all, God Almighty (Genesis 17:1). But the pertinent question is not what God could have done; it is what He said He did. And He said that He created everything in six days (Genesis 1). Furthermore, when God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He stated:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11, emp. added).
This Sabbath command can be understood properly only when the days of the week are interpreted as normal days.
The Creation of Man and the Age of the Earth
According to the theory of evolution, man is a newcomer to planet Earth, far removed from the origin of the Universe. If the Universe was born 14 billion years ago, as many evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, and progressive creationists believe, man did not “come along” until about 13.996 billion years later. If such time were represented by one 24-hour day, and the alleged Big Bang occurred at 12:00 a.m., then man did not arrive on the scene until 23:59:58 p.m. Man’s allotted time during one 24-hour day would represent a measly two seconds.
If the Bible taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that man was so far removed from the origin of the Universe, Bible-believing Christians would have no reservations accepting the above-mentioned timeline. Just as a Christian believes that God parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), made an iron ax head float on water (2 Kings 6:5), and raised Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28:1-8), he would accept that humans appeared on Earth billions of years after the beginning of Creation—if that was what the Bible taught. The problem for theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists is that God’s Word never hints at such a timeline. In fact, it does the very opposite.
The Bible makes a clear distinction between things that took place before “the foundation of the world” and events that occurred after the “foundation of the world.” Jesus prayed to the Father on the night of His arrest and betrayal, saying: “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, emp. added). Peter revealed in his first epistle how Jesus “was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20, emp. added). Paul informed the Christians in Ephesus how God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, emp. added). Before “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He was alive and well.
If theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists are correct, then man arrived on the scene, not before the foundation of the world (obviously), nor soon after the foundation of the world, but eons later—13.996 billion years later to be “precise.” This theory, however, blatantly contradicts Scripture.
Jesus taught that “the blood of all the prophets…was shed from (“since”—NASB) the foundation of the world…, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple” (Luke 11:50-51, emp. added; cf. Luke 1:70). Not only did Jesus’ first-century enemies murder the prophets, but their forefathers had slain them as well, ever since the days of Abel. Observe that Jesus connected the time of one of the sons of Adam and Eve to the “foundation of the world.” This time is contrasted with the time of a prophet named Zechariah, whom, Jesus told His enemies, “you murdered between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:35). Zechariah was separated from the days of Abel by thousands of years. His blood was not shed near the foundation of the world; Abel’s was. Certain early martyrs, including Abel, lived close enough to Creation for Jesus to say that their blood had been shed “from the foundation of the world.” If man arrived on the scene billions of years after the Earth was formed, and hundreds of millions of years after various living organisms such as fish, amphibians, and reptiles came into existence (as the evolutionary timeline affirms), how could Jesus’ statement make sense? Truly, man was not created eons after the beginning of the world. Rather, he has been here “from the foundation” of it.
On another occasion when Jesus’ antagonists approached Him, they questioned Him about the lawfulness of divorce. Jesus responded by saying, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6, emp. added). According to Genesis 1 and 2, God made Adam and Eve on the sixth day of Creation (1:26-31; 2:7,21-25). Jesus referred to this very occasion and indicated that God made them “from the beginning of the creation.” Similar to the association of Abel’s day with “the foundation of the world,” the forming of Adam and Eve on day six of the Creation can be considered “from the beginning of the creation.”
[NOTE: Jesus is not suggesting that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of day one of the creation week. The word “creation” (ktiseos) in Mark 10:6 is not used in the specific sense of the week of creation. (If that were the case, then Jesus would have said that the original couple were made “at the end of the creation” week.) Respected Greek lexicographers Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich noted that Jesus is referring to “the sum total of everything created;” the “world” (2000, p. 573). In other words, Adam and Eve were so far removed from the first century A.D. and the time that Jesus made this statement, that one could truly say that the first human beings were made “from the beginning of the creation/world/universe” (cf. 2 Peter 3:4).]
If the 14-billion-year timeline of evolution were true, Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:6 would be erroneous; Adam and Eve would have been nowhere close to the beginning of the Universe, but would have arrived “at the end”—13.996 billion years after it began. Simply put, the theory of evolution and Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:6 cannot both be true.
In the epistle to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul also alluded to how long man has been on the Earth. He wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Who on Earth can recognize the eternal power and divine nature of God? Man. [NOTE: Although some might suggest that angels can understand God’s invisible attributes, the context of Romans 1:18-32 clearly refers to humans, not angels.] How long has man been aware of God and His invisible attributes? “Since the creation of the world.” How, then, could man logically have been “perceiving” or “understanding” God “since the creation of the world,” if he is separated from the creation of “the heavens and the earth, the sea,” and so many of the animals (like trilobites, dinosaurs, and “early mammals”) by millions or billions of years? Such a scenario completely contradicts Scripture. Yet, as David Riegle once observed, people (even “Christians”) will “accept long, complicated, imaginative theories and reject the truth given to Moses by the Creator Himself” (1962, p. 24).
The simple fact is, one cannot logically believe in both evolution and the Bible. A choice must be made between the two. One can choose the ever-changing, man-made, unscientific theory of evolution (cf. Miller, 2013), or he can decide to believe the “the word of the Lord” that neither withers nor falls away, but “endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
God’s Chronology of Creation vs. Evolutionary Theory
In addition to the theory of evolution contradicting the timeline of Creation, it further contradicts the precise chronology of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1. The omnipotent Creator could have created everything at the same moment. He could have created everything in the precise order that evolutionists theorize the Universe developed—over 14 billion years of time. There are an infinite number of ways that God could have brought everything into existence. However, there is only one way that God’s authoritative Word said He brought the Universe into existence, and that one way contradicts evolutionary theory. Consider some of the discrepancies between the chronology of evolution and Genesis 1.
Which Came First—the Earth or Sun?
Evolution alleges that the Sun and other heavenly bodies evolved millions of years before the Earth. However, according to Genesis 1, God created the water-covered Earth on day one (Genesis 1:1-5), while He brought the Sun, Moon, and stars into existence on day four (Genesis 1:14-19). So which is it? Was the Earth created three days before the Sun, or did it evolve millions of years after the Sun? One cannot logically embrace both accounts.
[NOTE: Some Christians contend that God must have created the Sun, Moon, and stars in Genesis 1:1 and then “set” them (Genesis 1:16; Hebrew nathan) in their precise locations in the heavens on the fourth day of Creation (see Thurman, 2006, p. 3). However, it was on day four of Creation that God not only “set” the heavenly bodies in place, but He literally “made” (Hebrew asah) them (1:16). Similar to how God initially made the land and seas void of animal life (which later was created on days five and six of Creation), the “heavens” were made “in the beginning,” but the hosts of heaven (which now inhabit them) were created “in the firmament of the heavens” on day four. What’s more, similar to how God spoke light into existence on day one of Creation, saying, “Let there be light” (1:3), on the fourth day God declared, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens…and it was so” (1:14-15). As Gary Workman noted:
“Let there be lights” (v. 14) is identical in grammatical construction with other statements of “let there be…” in the chapter. Therefore the command can only mean that God spoke the luminaries into existence on the fourth day just as he had created the initial light on day one and the firmament on day two” (1989, p. 3).
Keep in mind that “the Father of lights” (James 1:17), Who is “light” (1 John 1:5), could create light easily without first having to create the Sun, Moon, and stars. Just as God could produce a fruit-bearing tree on day three without a seed, He could produce light supernaturally on day one without the “usual” light bearers, which subsequently were created on day four (see Miller, 2014 for more information on this subject).]
Early Earth—Dry or Water-Covered?
Evolution alleges that billions of years following the Big Bang, Earth evolved out of a massive cloud of dust that was billions of miles wide. What’s more, there was no water on the surface of the early Earth, as bodies of water did not form (allegedly) for millions of years.
Does this scenario sound anything like the Creation account? Certainly not. God spoke a water-covered Earth into existence on the first day of Creation (Genesis 1:1-5). On day two He divided the waters (1:6-8). It was not until the third day that God made the dry land to appear (1:9-13). Once again, God’s chronology of Creation and evolutionary theory stand at odds with one another.
Fruit-Bearing Trees—Before or After Fish and Fleas?
Consider another frequently disregarded discrepancy between evolutionary theory and the Bible. Allegedly, “[p]lants first colonised land in the Ordovician period, around 465 million years ago” (O’Donoghue, 2007, 196:38). “It wasn’t until the evolution of trees 80 million years later that vegetation could spread around the globe” (p. 40, emp. added). What’s more, trees with roots, seeds, and leaves supposedly evolved nearly 100 million years after the first land plants (p. 40). There were fish in the seas (see Evolution…, 1994, p. 30) and “tiny creatures such as insects” on land (O’Donoghue, p. 38), but according to evolution, seed-producing, fruit-bearing trees bloomed millions of years later.
According to Scripture, the omnipotent God Who created everything with “the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6), said: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth” (Genesis 1:11). The Bible then reveals, “and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:11-13).
It is really very simple. God made grass, herb, and tree, seed, spore, and fruit on the same day of Creation. There were no epoch-long, time-laden processes that turned plants into shrubs and shrubs into trees over many millions of years. God said He did it in one day, “and it was so.” Furthermore, He did it prior to His creation of any animal life. Although evolution says that fish and insects were around before fruit bearing trees, the Bible teaches otherwise (Genesis 1:20-25).
In truth, the chronology of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1 completely contradicts evolutionary theory. A true Bible believer cannot reasonably hold to a theory that claims certain animals were around millions of years before trees, or that the early Earth had no water on its surface. The sooner evolutionary-sympathizing Christians acknowledge the clear contradictions between evolution and God’s Creation account, the better. If evolutionary theory is true, the Bible is wrong. If the Bible is true, evolutionary theory is a lie. “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).
The Day-Age Theory
Christians who embrace the long ages of evolutionary geology must find some way to fit billions of years into the biblical record. One of the most popular theories concocted to add eons of time to the age of the Earth is known as the Day-Age Theory. This theory suggests that the days of Genesis 1 were not literal, 24-hour days, but lengthy periods of time (millions or billions of years). Is such a theory to be welcomed with open arms, or is there good reason to reject it? In truth, the available evidence reveals several reasons why we can know that the days mentioned in Genesis 1 were the same kind of days we experience in the present age, and were not eons of time.
Interpreting the Word “Day” is Not Rocket Science
The singular and plural forms of the Hebrew word for day (yom and yamim) appear in the Old Testament over 2,300 times, making it the fifth most common noun in the Old Testament (Saebo, 1990, 6:13-14). The term is used in three basic ways. The first two ways are defined and limited: “Day” (yom) can refer to a 24-hour period (e.g., Genesis 50:3), and it can refer to the part of the 24-hour period that is “light” (in contrast to the darkness/night; Genesis 1:3-5). Day is also used in an extended way to refer to longer, less-defined periods of time in the past, present, or future (e.g., “the day of the Lord,” Zechariah 14:1).
Even today, we use the term “day” in different ways, but rarely do people have a difficult time understanding each other’s use of the term, since the context and the way in which the word is used virtually always defines the word rather easily. Think about it: How often do you have to interrupt and question someone because you misunderstand how they are using the word “day”? Such questions are seldom, if ever, asked. Consider the following paragraph:
In Abraham’s day, God made a covenant with the righteous patriarch and his descendants, saying, “Every male child among you shall be circumcised…. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:10,12). As long as it was day eight, it may not have mattered if Abraham and his descendants circumcised their young males during the day or night. In Moses’ day, even if day eight fell on the seventh day (the Sabbath day), the Israelites were expected to circumcise their male children on this day, “so that the law of Moses should not be broken” (John 7:23).
How is the word “day” used in the above paragraph? It is used twice in reference to the two different general periods of time in which Abraham and Moses lived. It is used once to refer to the opposite of night. It is used six times to refer to literal, 24-hour days.
Most Bible readers can easily and quickly understand how the inspired writers used yom (day) throughout the Bible. Most people clearly comprehend if the word “day” is used in a defined manner (as a part of or an entire 24 hours) or in an undefined manner (e.g., “in the day of the Lord”). After the Flood, the Lord said, “While the earth remains…, winter and summer, day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). “Day” is obviously used here in reference to a defined time period—the part of a 24-hour period that is light (cf. Genesis 7:4; 29:7; Exodus 24:18). During the Flood, “the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24). Once again, “days” (yamim) is used in a defined sense, though instead of referring to the light period of the day(s), the emphasis is on the total 24-hour period(s)—specifically, 150 24-hour periods. In Deuteronomy 31:17, the Lord foretold how the Israelites would break His covenant, and “in that day” many troubles would come upon them. The emphasis here is on a less defined period of time—in the future, when the Israelites would begin worshiping the idols of the pagan nations around them.
Days and Numbers
One of the easiest ways (though not the only way) to detect when the Bible is using the term “day” in a literal, 24-hour sense is if the term is modified by a number. Obviously, day eight (in the aforementioned sample paragraph) refers to the eighth literal day (not week, month, year, decade, etc.) of a child’s life. Day seven refers to the seventh literal day of the week—the Sabbath day. Who would mistake these “days” for anything other than regular days? Interestingly, as Henry Morris once noted, “[W]henever a limiting numeral or ordinal is attached to ‘day’ in the Old Testament (and there are over 200 such instances), the meaning is always that of a literal day” (1974, p. 224, emp. added, parenthetical item in orig.). Indeed, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days (and not 3,000 years), and just as the Israelites marched around Jericho once a day for six days (and not six long, vast periods of time), we can know that God created everything in “six days” (Exodus 20:11; 31:17), not six billion years. About each day of Creation, Moses wrote: “So the evening and the morning were the first day…second day…third day…fourth day…fifth day…sixth day” (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31).
Days with Evenings and Mornings
Another indicator throughout the literal, non-prophetic language of Scripture that yom refers to a limited, defined time of 24 hours or less [i.e., whether it is used to refer to (a) daylight hours of a 24-hour period or (b) the 24-hour period itself], is if the words “morning” and/or “evening” are used to describe the particular day. The words “morning” (boqer) and “evening” (‘ereb) appear 348 times in the Old Testament. (Boqer appears 214 times and ‘ereb 134 times; Konkel, 1997, 1:711,716.) Again and again throughout the Old Testament these words are used in reference to specific, defined portions of regular 24-hour days.
Noah “waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening” (Genesis 8:10-11).
Moses judged Israel “on the next day…and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening” (Exodus 18:13).
The Lord instructed Aaron and his sons in the book of Leviticus about the various offerings, including the laws concerning peace offerings. According to Leviticus 7:15, “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning.”
During the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness, God caused a cloud to remain over the tabernacle “from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night” (Numbers 9:21).
The only instances where evening and morning may not refer to defined portions of a 24-hour day are the relatively few times they are used in prophetic or figurative language (e.g., Genesis 49:27; Habakkuk 1:8). Otherwise, the evidence is overwhelming: when “morning” and/or “evening” are used in reference to a period of time (in literal, non-prophetic language) they always refer to regular, 24-hour days (or parts thereof). [NOTE: For a clear distinction between the literal, narrative, non-prophetic language of Scripture and the figurative, prophetic language of the Bible, compare the narrative of Joseph in Genesis 37-48 with what Jacob prophesies will happen to Joseph, his brothers, and their descendants in Genesis 49:1-27. For more information on the literal, historical nature of Genesis 1-2, see Thompson, 2000, pp. 133-161 and DeYoung, 2005, pp. 157-170.]
So what does this have to do with Creation? Only that each day of the Creation was said to have one evening and one morning.
“So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).
“So the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:8).
“So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:13).
“So the evening and the morning were the fourth day” (Genesis 1:19).
“So the evening and the morning were the fifth day” (Genesis 1:23).
“So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
Just as God spoke of limited, defined periods of days using the terms “evening” and “morning” hundreds of times throughout the Old Testament, He did so six times in the Creation account. If everywhere else in the literal, non-prophetic language of the Old Testament these words are used to refer to regular 24-hour days, why is it that some contend the days of the literal, non-prophetic Genesis account of Creation were undefined, vast periods of evolutionary time? It would seem because their loyalty to the assumption-based, unproven theory of evolution means more to them than a serious, consistent, logical interpretation of the Bible.
Other Questions Day-Agers Should Consider
In addition to the powerful testimony against the Day-Age Theory provided by the Bible writers’ use of yom in conjunction with numerical adjectives and the words “evening” and “morning,” other appropriate questions linger for Day-Age theorists.
If the “days” of Genesis 1:14, were “eons of time,” then what were the “years” mentioned? The word “years” can be understood correctly in this context only if the word “days” refers to normal days.
If the “days” of Genesis were not days at all, but long evolutionary periods of time, then a problem arises in the field of botany. Vegetation came into existence on the third day (Genesis 1:9-13). If each day of Genesis 1 was a long geological age composed of one period of daylight and one period of darkness (Genesis 1:4-5), how did plant life survive millions of years of total darkness?
How would the plants that depend on insects for pollination have survived the supposed millions or billions of years between “day” three and “days” five and six (when insects were created)?
If the Holy Spirit can easily communicate the difference between a regular day and a much longer period of time (e.g., “a thousand years,” 2 Peter 3:8), what logical, biblically sound reason can one give for assuming that the days of Genesis must have b een thousands, millions, or billions of years?
The fact is, the Day-Age Theory collapses under a reasonable reading of Genesis 1 and the rest of the Scriptures.
Those who propose that billions of years of evolutionary time preceded the creation of Adam and Eve need to give serious thought to the many Bible passages that teach otherwise. The Bible is not silent regarding our origins. God Almighty created the Universe (and everything in it) simply by speaking it into existence.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth… Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6,8-9).
The same God Who turned water into grape juice (oinos) in a moment of time (without dependence on time-laden naturalistic processes like photosynthesis; John 2:1-11), “the God Who does wonders” (Psalm 77:14), spoke the Universe into existence in six days.
Had God chosen to do so, He could have spent six billion years, six million years, or six thousand years creating the world. Had He given any indication in His Word that He used lengthy amounts of time in order for naturalistic processes to take over during Creation, we could understand why Christians would embrace such a belief. However, God has done the very opposite. First, He revealed that the heavens and the Earth are the effects of supernatural causes (thus contradicting the General Theory of Evolution). Second, He gave us the sequence of events that took place, which contradicts evolutionary theory. What’s more, He told us exactly how long He spent creating. The first chapter of Genesis reveals that from the creation of the heavens and the Earth to the creation of man, He spent six days. On two occasions in the very next book of the Bible, He reminds us that the Creation took place not over six eons of time, but over six days (Exodus 20:11; 31:17). He then further impressed on Bible readers that man is not 14 billion years younger than the origin of the Universe by referring to him as being on the Earth (1) “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6), (2) “since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20), and (3) “from the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50).
If God did create everything in six literal days, and expected us to believe such, what else would He have needed to say than what He said? How much clearer would He have needed to make it? And, if it does not matter what we think about the subject, why did He reveal to us the sequence of events to begin with?
Truly, just as God has spoken clearly on a number of subjects that various “believers” have distorted (e.g., the worldwide Noahic Flood, the necessity of immersion in water for the remission of sins, the return of Christ, etc.), the Bible plainly teaches that God, by the word of His mouth, spoke the Universe and everything in it into existence in six days. No “rightly divided” Bible passage will lead a person to any other conclusion (2 Timothy 2:15).
Danker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
DeYoung, Donald (2005), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Evolution: Change Over Time (1994), (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).
Konkel, A.H. (1997), boqer, New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Miller, Jeff (2013), Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Jeff (2014), “How Could There Be Light Before the Sun?” Reason &Revelation, 34:94-95, June.
Morris, Henry M. (1974), Scientific Creationism (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
O’Donoghue, James (2007), “A Forest is Born,” New Scientist, 196:38-41, November 24.
Riegle, David (1962), Creation or Evolution? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Saebo, M. (1990), yom, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Thompson, Bert (2000), Creation Compromises (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thurman, Clem (2006), “How Was Light Before the Sun?” Gospel Minutes, September 8:3.
Workman, Gary (1989), “Questions from Genesis One,” The Restorer, May/June, pp. 3-5.