Posted in Genesis

The Age of the Earth – Part One

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was (or possibly became) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Many have felt that a straightforward reading of the Bible leads to an earth/universe which is less than 10,000 years old. Any other explanation is often seen as a compromise with the scientific community who believe the earth is billions of years old. Do we have to choose between the Bible and what most scientists believe about the age of the earth?

Genesis One gives six days of creation and describes each day by the words, “There was evening and there was morning,” giving the impression of a 24-hour period. Some make the point that the sun and moon are not created until day four so there is no reason to believe that “evening and morning” are describing a solar day. This group would say that each day, the Hebrew word “yom,” is describing an indefinite period where God creates through a long process that is only generally summarized in the text. There need be no conflict with scientists, in this view, because Genesis One is only concerned about “who” created, not about “how” He created.

Although I have some sympathy with this argument, I think it is unnecessary when one looks closely at the text. If we subtract all six days of creation given in Genesis One, notice that we still have an earth even though it’s covered with water and darkness. Before day one, the earth is already here. The only verse that references the creation of the earth is Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Is this an introduction to what the author is going to describe as happening during the six days, or is the actual creation of the heavens and the earth being referenced before the six days? Since the earth isn’t created during any one of the six days, I think we have to conclude that Genesis 1:1 is describing the act of God in creating the original heavens and earth. If this is the case, and the heavens, including the stars, sun and moon, are already here before day one, day four cannot be describing their creation. Tomorrow I will give four reasons I believe this is true.


Pastor at City Church in Madison, Wisconsin