Bible creation 'days'

Earth cools and life develops
PART A – Creation order
PART B – Bible 'day' is more than 24 hours
PART C – Interpretation issues
Creation order
Genesis 1:3-31

DAY 1 - Light

God said: 'Let there be light.' God's first creation was light, coming from the fiery Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. (See 1.1)

Light is the primary requirement for life. Light is so amazing that it cannot be defined by anything other than itself. It is the prerequisite for all life. See 1.2.2 for the qualities of light, physically and spiritually.

Billions of years passed between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:3.

The Biblical account of creation is seen from perspective of earth. The earth is about 14 billion years old but the sun is only about 5 billion years old. Light from the sun did not begin glowing through the earth's intense heat and dense cloud cover until about 4.5 billion years ago.

DAY 2 - Water and air

God said: 'Let there be an expanse between the waters ... so God separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.' The enormous cloud of cooling gasses and dust collapsed over the first 10 billion years to form the solid earth.

Violent collisions with comets and asteroids and condensing steam brought water, eventually covering the earth's crust. God created an atmosphere ('expanse') of life-sustaining air between ocean and cloud.

The atmosphere makes earth habitable by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun to warm earth's surface, bringing rain for vegetation and holding air for breathing.

DAY 3 - Land and vegetation

God said: 'Let dry ground appear ... let the land produce vegetation.' As temperature changed on earth's surface, the thickening crust (floating on molten rock) began cracking, shifting and buckling. Some of the crust was thrust above water to form dry land.

At first, there was total darkness on earth, but eventually light began to glow through the dense cloud cover, enough to support simple organic life.

Starting with single cell organisms fed by photosynthesis and water, life and the food chain began in sea and land about four billion years ago.

The Biblical account of creation is seen from human perspective of land on earth. First life on earth was tiny organisms like bacteria. Then vegetation started in water and gradually spread and adapted to land. Ancient people would not have understood micro organisms and biological processes, so the Bible skips directly to the food chain they knew.

DAY 4 - Direct sunlight

God said: 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky ... let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years ... God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.'

All celestial bodies were created from the Big Bang, starting as formless spinning gasses, too hot for light to penetrate. It took billions of years for them to coalesce, cool, merge, solidify and achieve stable orbits.

Eventually there were breaks in earth's clouds so sun, moon and stars became visible from human vantage point.

For centuries the Bible's creation order was used by critics as irrefutable proof that the Bible is NOT trustworthy. They said it is impossible to have light (Day 1) and organic growth (Day 3) before sun (Day 4). But now that we understand the Big Bang – that the earth had a beginning and heavy cloud cover – the creation order shows that the Bible IS trustworthy. No writer three thousand years ago could have possibly known this modern science without some direct knowledge from the designer/creator.

DAY 5 - Fish and birds

God said: 'Let the water team with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.'

With direct sunlight, vegetation proliferated, especially in water, and became an abundant food source for a new category of life – fish – which God created about 500 million years ago.

Then a new kind of creature appears, known to us as dinosaurs. We now know from archaeology that there were more than 700 species of dinosaurs of all sizes and types – from five pounds to fifty tons, some walked, some swam, some flew – and they dominated the earth for 175 million years.

This is particularly interesting because scientists now believe that modern birds are descendants of small avian dinosaurs that escaped the mass extinction 66 million years ago, which killed non-flying dinosaurs and three-fourths of other species of life on earth, caused by an enormous meteorite collision and resulting in scorching fires, radioactivity, volcanic eruptions and sun hidden by dust.

Dinosaurs were the dominant part of God's creation in Day 5, but the Bible never mentions them, probably because they went extinct and no one in Bible times could comprehend the time scale or believe that these kind of creatures actually existed. The Bible account skips dinosaurs and goes direct from fish to birds.

'God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let birds increase on earth.'

There was extensive evolution and proliferation of fish and birds throughout the earth, expanding the food chain, getting ready for the next stage of life.

DAY 6 - Animals and humans

God said: 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals ...'

Shortly after the great extinction 66 million years ago, God created a new kind of creature – animals – adapted to the new environment and reproducing with live births instead of eggs.

Then, about four million years ago, a new kind of creature appears, known to us as hominins, with physical form very similar to apes and humans, all having 95-97% identical DNA. The Bible never mentions hominins, probably because they went extinct and because no one in Bible times could comprehend biology or a time span of millions of years. The Bible account goes direct from animals to humans.

The last known hominin population (Neanderthals) was in Europe and vanished suddenly about 30,000 years ago.

Archaeological digs reveal the first evidence of humans about 40,000 years ago. Hominins and humans apparently coexisted at one time, and apparently there was some interbreeding because today Europeans and Asians have approximately 2% Neanderthal DNA, but other groups have little or none. This low percentage is further evidence that humans did not evolve from hominins.

God said: 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move upon the ground.'

Humans! The concluding act of the six days (ages) of creation, the grand finale! Humans are a special creation by God, made in likeness of God, not evolved, created with capacity to have a relationship with God and to rule the earth – the crowning jewel of God's creation!

DAY 7 - Pause in new creations / present time

The Bible account of the six days (ages) of creation ends with these words: 'Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array ... And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy [worthy of honor], because on it he rested [paused] from all the work of creating he had done.'

A concluding statement used to end each of the other six individual days is not used for the seventh day, meaning that this day has not yet ended. We are still in the seventh day (age). God is not making new kinds of creations now, but procreation continues, and God has equipped humans to rule the earth and do creative work to further fashion life on earth.

Other portions of the Bible tell us that in a future day (age), God will take back rule of the earth from humans and will resume new creative work here ... a new heaven and a new earth ...

PART B challenges an old church teaching:
> that creation 'day' means 24 hours

Bible 'day' is more than 24 hours

'Day' means long indefinite time

In the English translation of Genesis 1, each stage of creation is called a 'day'. In the original Hebrew language in which the biblical account was written, the word is 'yom.'

Just as in English, Hebrew 'yom' usually means a 24-hour period but can mean a long indefinite period, depending upon context (as, this is day of the jet plane, not day of the sailing ship).

The Bible is its own best interpreter. See 1.2.1 for REASONS FROM THE BIBLE why 'yom' should be understood to be a long period of time.

The Bible gives sequential order, but not times. The order summarized here is confirmed by cosmologists, geologists, biologists and archaeologists.

Now modern science is filling in the time blanks, and a re-reading of Genesis 1 opens our eyes to new understanding of God's unfolding master plan.

Interpretation issues

Or does the earth just look old?

Some Christians say that the earth is not old but just looks old, that it was created about 6,000 years ago with built-in apparent age. See 1.1.3 for serious problems with the apparent age theory.

See 1.2.1 for evidence from the Bible itself – right in the Genesis account – that the earth is in fact very, very old.

Humans evolved?

'God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.' (Genesis 1:27)

'The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being' (Genesis 2:7).

Text books often use a cartoon-like drawing to teach that humans evolved from apes or a common animal ancestor. The drawing usually shows a series of six or more creatures with changing physical characteristics, starting with an ape on one end and a man on the other, with part-ape and part-man creatures morphing in-between.

All of life evolving from a single cell is contrary to what the Bible says and what common sense observation shows. God created life at specific times in specific categories. The categories of creation seem to be walled:

Light never turns into water ... water never turns into rocks ... rocks never turn into vegetation ... vegetation never turns into fish ... fish never turns into bird ... bird never turns into animal ... animal never turns into human.

There is no continuous line (missing links) of in-between creatures.

Furthermore, the qualities that most separate humans from animals are not evolutionary, such as laughter, music, mathematics, language and worship. These qualities are unique to humans and not found in other creatures.

There is a big difference between godless evolution (just happened by chance from nothing without any intelligent design) and theistic evolution (God's method of creation over a long period of time).

Many Christians believe in theistic evolution, even the concept of everything evolving from a single cell. That belief does not in any way diminish God or Christology (the birth, life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).

THE VIEWPOINT ON THIS SITE is that humans are a unique creation, not evolved from any other creature. There are three primary reasons for this view:

  • The Genesis account presents each day as a separate category of creation.
  • There are no links or part-way creatures bridging the categories – the gap between animals and humans is very wide!
  • Humans are the grand finale in all of God's creation, made in God's image, to rule the earth. There is something offensive and demeaning to think of humans as just improved animals rather than as the special crowning creation with capacity to live forever with God.

The important point is not when or how created the world but to recognize that GOD DID IT!

Evolution within categories

'And God created every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird accord to its kind. And God saw that it was good.' (Genesis 1:21)

'And God said, Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move upon the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind. And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.' (Genesis 1:24-25)

Simple observation shows that there is no evolution from one major category to another, but simple observation also shows that there IS abundant evolution within each category, continuing to this day. This adaptation to change over time is God's method of continuous improvement, an awesome unfolding design plan.

'Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all creatures that move along the ground. God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.' Genesis 1:26-27)

Humans were created as a unique kind, not evolved from other kinds. See 2.5 for the amazing qualities and possibilities of a life made in the image of God.
  • Bible was right. Science agrees that the Bible is correct in its list of order of first appearances, a counter-intuitive sequence that would have been unlikely for the Genesis writer to know three thousand years ago without divine revelation from the designer/creator.
  • 'Day' is more than 24 hours. A careful re-reading of Genesis 1 shows that the Hebrew word 'yom' – translated 'day' in English – means a long indefinite period of time.
  • Evolution. Within specific categories – vegetation, fish, birds and animals – there is evolution, adaptation and proliferation over long periods of time. Species come and go. New species are generally better, stronger, smarter than older species. The old makes way for the new and prevents suffocation from over-crowding. This happens all within his design plan, without any new creative act of God during this seventh 'day.'
  • Humans. Humans are a special creation, not evolved animals, created in God's own image.
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