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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Should Be Our Conclusion about the Days of Genesis and the Age of the Earth?

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Don Stewart
As we have considered the various options on how the term days in Genesis should be interpreted and the age of the earth we discover there are various possible answers to these questions. What are we to make of the various answers?

Strengths And Weaknesses

Each of the possible scenarios have their strengths and their weaknesses. This can be seen as follows:

1. Literal Day - Recent Creation

This is the view that God created the earth in six literal days a few thousand years ago.

Strength: This theory is consistent with Scripture taking the word day in its normal sense.

Weakness: The young age of the earth seemingly contradicts modern scientific measurements.

2. Literal Day/ Creation Not Dated

Genesis 1:1 is not part of the first day of creation. The days of creation started with Genesis 1:2.

Strength: Genesis can harmonize with modern science about the age of the earth.

Weakness: Genesis 1:1 may be a summary statement about God's creation, saying nothing about God's creation before the first day.

3. Local Creation

Genesis 1:1 refers to the creation of the universe while Genesis 1:2 speaks of the making of the Promised Land, not the entire earth.

Strength: This fits with the emphasis in Genesis of the land God gave to His people.

Weakness: This leaves the Bible saying nothing specifically about the original creation of the heavens and the earth.

4. Gap Theory

Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation while Genesis 1:2 assumes a gap of time has occurred when God judged the first creation. The remainder of Genesis records God's re-creation of the earth in six literal days.

Strength: It takes the days of Genesis literally and also allows Scripture to harmonize with the long ages of science.

Neither Scripture nor science supports this theory.

5. Gaps Between The Days

The days in Genesis are consecutive but not sequential. Between each creation day millions of years could have elapsed where God created. God progressively created most things between the literal days.

Strength: Takes the days of Genesis literally and harmonizes the age of the earth with modern science.

Weakness: Add a number of gaps in the record that are not there.

6. Revelational Day Theory

Creation was revealed to Moses in six days, not completed in six days. The days in Genesis are days of revelation not creation.

Strength: Takes the days literally and allows Genesis to harmonize with science.

Weakness: Account reads like chronology of creation, not revelation.

7. Age/Day Theory

The age/day theory understands the days as long periods of time rather than solar days.

Strength: This allows Genesis to harmonize with the consensus of modern science that the earth is old.

Weakness: The idea of day representing a period of time is not the natural way to understand the word.

8. Literary Framework

This position understands the days in Genesis to be more logical than chronological. No order of creation is given in the account.

Strength: Understands Genesis has a distinctive framework to its composition.

Weakness: The account reads like a chronology.

9. Religious Only

Genesis is not meant to be read scientifically but rather religiously. There is no attempt to give the reader any scientific information about the creation or the age of the universe.

Strength: There is no need to harmonize Genesis with science since it was not the intent of the author to do so.

Weakness: It makes the entire account meaningless with all its specifics.

10. Time Itself

Time itself must be considered in any dating of the heavens and earth. This is true whether or not the universe is young or old.

11. Idealized View

The real time of creation may not be the same as the perceived time. God created everything with a superficial appearance of age. This has to be taken into consideration when attempting to date the earth and universe.

Strength: It recognizes God created everything in the universe fully mature. The actual age was not the same as things actually looked.

Weakness: There is no way to tell how old the universe actually is because there is built-in age to everything. If the universe looks old, then maybe it is old.

These views are held by people who accept the Bible as the Word of God.

12. The Fall Of Humanity

The fall of humanity changed everything in the universe.

Strength: All things are now different from when they were originally created. This includes time.

Weakness: We do know the extent, if any, that time changed after the Fall.

13. Flood Geology

Assumes the Flood in Genesis 6-9 covered the entire globe. All methods that attempt to date the age of the earth must take this into consideration.

Strength: Accepts the account in Genesis 6-9 at face value.

Weakness: Most geologists, including Christians, do not find evidence of a one year global flood.

All of the above factors need to be taken into consideration when one attempts to understand the days of Genesis and the age of the earth.

Good People Differ

This is a case where godly people differ on their interpretation. Whatever particular view we hold we should do it with humility and with the understanding that this is one of the issues where good people differ upon what the text means. As we have already emphasized, the biblical writers were not that concerned about the time of creation as they were about the fact of creation. It is essential to believe God's Word to be true. We should not cause division with one another over the timing of creation. The key thing that all parties must remember is that the Scripture teaches that God specifically designed and created the heavens, the earth, and humanity for a specific purpose. We should never lose sight of that fact.

We agree with the assessment of Bernard Ramm, who writes.

We should be charitable toward all evangelical efforts which try to clear up the problems of the early chapters of Genesis (Bernard Ramm, p. 153).


The question as to the meaning of the term day in Genesis and its implications is an issue that continues to divide Bible-believers. Whatever particular position one may take, they should hold it with humility. There is room for disagreement among those who accept the authority of the Bible.

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