There are a number of reasons why theories spring up regarding the creation and age of the earth. Scientists have discovered that the earth must be at least 4.5 billion years old and the universe is around 14 billion years old.
Controversy is provoked because the bible teaches that the earth was created in 6 days; this would work out to around 6000 years ago, therefore many believed that the earth is only 6000 years old, however, scientific evidence does not agree.
So, what does Genesis actually say which has provoked so many theories of creation?
Genesis 1:1 says:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 says:
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:3 says:
Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
Many people place their theories on the 6 days of creation i.e., are the 6 days literal, or are they symbolic?
Since Adam is the first man who was created on the 6th day, the timescale of people living on the earth is thought to be around 6000 years. The time is worked out from what is recorded in the Bible.
This then begs the question, was Adam created 6 days after God created the earth?
Well, since science has discovered that the earth is older than 6000 years, it would appear that if you take the 6 days of creation literally, then the earth must have been created billions of years before it was formed.
For me personally, I take the 6 days of the formation of the earth as a literal 6 days after the creation of the earth. This is because each day had evening and morning. God also rested on the 7th day and made that day holy; a day which later on would become law under Moses to treat as a day for the Lord.
Genesis tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and it isn’t until Genesis 1:3 that God begins to form the earth. So if we are to accept what the scientists say and treat the days as literal days, this must mean that there was a large time gap between the earth being created, and the earth being formed.
So, from a biblical perspective, If Adam was the first man born who God created in his own image around 6000 years ago, who do the fossils belong to that have been found on the earth dating back some 3 or more billion years ago?
Well, that is not a question I can currently answer from a biblical perspective since it is not biblically recorded as far as I know.
Although I lean towards the 6 days of the formation of the earth as being literal (probably billions of years after the earth was created), there are five major theories on the interpretation of the six days of creation:
The Pictorial Day (Revelatory Day Theory)
The pictorial day theory claims that the six days mentioned in Genesis are the six days during which God revealed to Moses the events of creation. But the Bible relates the creation as clearly, simply, and historically as it does any other event. To interpret the text in this manner requires the abandonment of all exegetical principles. This theory has difficulty explaining Exodus 20:11.
The Gap Theory (Ruin-Reconstruction Theory)
The gap theory claims that Genesis 1:1 describes an original creation which was followed by the fall of Satan and great judgment. Genesis 1:2 is then supposed to be a description of the re-creation or restoration that took place (see the note on Genesis 1:2). Exodus 20:11 teaches that the entire universe, including the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), was created in the six day period mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis.
The Intermittent Day
The intermittent day view claims that the days mentioned are literal days, but that they are separated by long periods of time. However, unless all the creative activity is limited to the literal days, this view is in direct contradiction to Exodus 20:11.
The Day-age Theory
The day-age theory claims that the word y?m (3117), which is the Hebrew word for “day,” is used to refer to periods of indefinite length, not to literal days. While this is a viable meaning of the word (Lev. 14:2, 9, 10) it is not the common meaning, nor is the meaning of the word sufficient foundation for the theory.
In support of this theory it is argued that (1) God does not measure time as man does (2 Pet 3:8; Ps 90:4); (2) the word “day” is used in a figurative way in the creation narrative (Gn 2:4); and (3) God’s “Book of Nature” reveals that long eons elapsed between the creation of the lower forms of life and man.
The Literal Day
The literal day theory accepts the clear meaning of the text: the universe was created in six literal days. The various attempts to join together the biblical account of creation and evolution are not supportable even by the various gap theories because the order of creation is in direct opposition to the views of modern science (e.g., the creation of trees before light). The phrase “evening and morning” indicates literal days (cf. Dan. 8:14 where the same phrase in the Hebrew is translated “day”).
The term day (yom) in the singular appears some 1,150 in the Old Testament. In over ninety percent of these occurrences the word has its ordinary meaning. When a numeral is used with yom it always means an ordinary day. The phrase “evening and morning” also is thought to support this position. Finally, Exodus 20:11 is viewed as Moses’ own commentary on Genesis 1.
So there are many questions that may be left unanswered, or some questions answered which do not offer sufficient enough evidence to base a belief on.
Ultimately, it makes no difference how long the earth took to make since it is not a requirement of salvation to understand it. It is sufficient enough to believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and the rest is history.
Photo by Ju Desi