How could the world be created in six days?
PROBLEM: The Bible says that God created the world in six days ( Ex. 20:11 ). But
modern science declares that it took billions of years. Both cannot be true.
SOLUTION: There are basically two ways to reconcile this difficulty.
First, some scholars argue that modern science is wrong. They insist that the
universe is only thousands of years old and that God created everything in six literal
24-hour days (=144 hours). In favor of this view they offer the following:
- The days of Genesis each have “evening and the morning,” (cf. Gen. 1:5 , 8 , 13 ,
19 , 23 , 31 ), something unique to 24-hour days in the Bible.
- The days were numbered (first, second, third, etc.), a feature found only with 24-
hour days in the Bible.
- Exodus 20:11 compares the six days of creation with the six days of a literal work
week of 144 hours.
- There is scientific evidence to support a young age (of thousands of years) for the
- There is no way life could survive millions of years from day three ( 1:11 ) to day
four ( 1:14 ) without light.
Other Bible scholars claim that the universe could be billions of years old without
sacrificing a literal understanding of Genesis 1 and 2 . They argue that:
- The days of Genesis 1 could have a time lapse before the days began (before Gen.
1:3 ), or a time gap between the days. There are gaps elsewhere in the Bible (cf. Matt.
1:8 , where three generations are omitted, with 1 Chron. 3:11–14 ).
- The same Hebrew word “day” ( yom ) is used in Genesis 1–2 as a period of time
longer than 24 hours. For example, Genesis 2:4 uses it of the whole six day period of
- Sometimes the Bible uses the word “day” for long periods of time: “One day is as a
thousand years” ( 2 Peter 3:8 ; cf. Ps. 90:4 ).
- There are some indications in Genesis 1–2 that days could be longer than 24 hours:
- a) On the third “day” trees grew from seeds to maturity and they bore like seeds (
1:11–12 ). This process normally takes months or years.
- b) On the sixth “day” Adam was created, went to sleep, named all the (thousands
- of) animals, looked for a helpmeet, went to sleep, and Eve was created from his rib.
This looks like more than 24 hours worth of activity.
- c) The Bible says God “rested” on the seventh day ( 2:2 ), and that He is still in
His rest from creation ( Heb. 4:4 ). Thus, the seventh day is thousands of years long
already. If so, then other days could be thousands of years too.
- Exodus 20:11 could be making a unit-for-unit comparison between the days of
Genesis and a work week (of 144 hours), not a minute-by-minute comparison.
Conclusion: There is no demonstrated contradiction of fact between Genesis 1
and science. There is only a conflict of interpretation. Either, most modern scientists
are wrong in insisting the world is billions of years old, or else some Bible
interpreters are wrong in insisting on only 144 hours of creation some several
thousand years before Christ with no gaps allowing millions of years. But, in either
case it is not a question of inspiration of Scripture, but of the interpretation of
Scripture (and of the scientific data).