From the time Moses penned the book of Genesis people who believe the Bible to be inspired of God have considered the earth relatively young, within the time frame of a few thousand years, not billions or even millions of years.
However, within the last two centuries another idea of the earth's age has emerged. This new concept has come about due to a growing belief in the theory of evolution, a theory which requires multiplied millions of years for the development of life on earth. Belief in the theory has been promoted as a science and has gradually come to dominate scientific circles, although there is no scientific evidence supporting it.
The influence of the evolutionary theory has been so cleverly advanced that many Bible believing people have fallen under its influence and, consequently, have been convinced to accept an "old earth" theology.
But the obvious question is raised: How can an old earth theology be harmonized with the Biblical account of creation? In an attempt to harmonize this contradiction two views have been advanced.
THE "DAY AGE" THEORY: -- This theory teaches that each of the six days of creation were not ordinary days, but were long periods of time, extremely long eons of time. Hence, the word "day" is said to be figurative or symbolic. However, that the word "day" in Gen. 1 is a normal, twenty-four hour day is shown by the following:
1) One principle of Biblical interpretation is that words are to be understood in their normal, literal sense unless there is something in the context that demands otherwise. However, there is nothing in Gen. 1 that even hints at the "days" being anything other than regular, twenty-four hour days.
2) The days are addressed as "first day," "second day," "third day," and so on. Note that throughout the rest of the Old Testament when the word "day" (yom) is joined with a numeral, it consistently refers to a normal day.
3) Each day has a morning and evening, which is simply a Jewish idiom for expressing the two halves of a normal day, much as we would say night and day.
Additionally, if the days were long eons of time, there are a number of unexplainable problems. For example:
1) How did insect-cross-pollinated vegetation (created on day three) exist for millions of years without insects (created on day six) to cross-pollinate them?
2) How did vegetation (created on day three) exist for millions of years without mist (created on day six) to water them?
The fact is, the only reason some regard the days of Gen. 1, as long periods of time is because of the preconceived idea of an old earth.
THE "GAP" THEORY: -- This theory teaches there are two separate creations divided by a gap. It is said there was an initial creation in Gen. 1:1 and another creation involving six days. Presumably, there was a gap between the two involving possibly billions of years. However, there is a very serious problem with this view as well.
Moses, the writer of Genesis, also penned the book of Exodus. In that book he also addresses creation. From the Genesis account it can be logically concluded that the total of creation took place within the six days. However, the Exodus account is more precise, specifying a time frame. Exo. 20:11 reads, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is..." So, the creation of heaven and earth mentioned in Gen. 1:1 is placed within the six days. Also, in Exo. 31:17 Moses reaffirmed this truth. "... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth..." Therefore, gap theorists are forced to give an unnatural meaning to the days in Gen. 1.
The Scriptures could not be clearer. There are not two creations divided by a so-called gap, but only one creation of the six days, which included Gen. 1:1. So the question we ask is this: Do we take the gap theorist's view of Gen. 1 or do we take the testimony of the inspired writer? The answer is obvious.
Trying to harmonize an old earth theology with the Scriptures is a futile effort. The Word of God is simply too plain on this vital truth.
By Jon Gary Williams in Bulletin Briefs, Vol. 10, No. 8, Aug. 2007.
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /