The creation stories in Genesis
How long did creation take?
Jews, conservative Christians, liberal Christians, Muslims, secularists and
others are in general agreement with what the Bible says.
However, they tend to disagree strongly about much of what the Bible means.
Even within these groups, there is often little consensus over the interpretation of its
text. These disagreements are particularly strong about origins -- of the
Earth's life forms, the earth itself, and the rest of the universe.
Further complicating the topic of origins is that scientists have reached a
near consensus that the universe started with a "big bang" approximately 14
billion years ago, and that the earth coalesced relatively recently -- about
4.5 billion years ago. Some Jews, Christians, and Muslims have difficulty
harmonizing such an ancient Earth with the accounts of creation in Genesis,
Exodus, and Job.
There are many apparent references in the Bible to the creation process:
|The First Creation Story: In Genesis 1:1 to 2:3, the creation of:
took six days. God is described as resting on the seventh day. The word
translated as "day" is "yom" in Hebrew. It normally means a 24 hour day, but can
also refer to an interval of indeterminate duration.
|The various species of plants, birds and other animals;
|The earth itself, composed of areas of land and water;
|The sun, moon and stars;
Various conservative religious groups and individuals have interpreted this passage in
different ways. Some are quite creative:
|The six days covered six actual 24 hour time intervals for a total of 144
|Each "day" does not mean a 24 hour day. It can mean intervals lasting hundreds of millions of
|Creation took billions of years. However, God recreated a multi-media display of creation for the benefit of Moses,
the author of Genesis. This show took six
days of real time.
|The six days of creation each took a single 24 hour interval. However, one or more may have been separated from other days by a long interval of time.
|The "days" are of indeterminate length. They are to be interpreted like
phases in a large construction project.
|The "days" are not human days. They are God's workdays which can be much
||God took six normal days to verbally order the universe into existence. But it took
much longer for God's orders to be implemented.
|God took billions of years to create the original earth, and to allow all of
the species of life to evolve. In an operation similar to that of a editor
program's cut and paste function, God copied that original earth and created a
duplicate copy. The latter is the earth that we live on. The paste operation to
took six days to complete. But it bears evidence of the other earth's
multi-billion dollar history.|
Various groups and individuals hold onto their beliefs with fierce
determination, being firmly convinced that their view is the only correct one
and that all others are in error. There appears to be no way to resolve this
lack of consensus.
||The Second Creation Story; Genesis 2:4 to 2:25: This is a different creation story concerning earth's life forms. There are some apparent inconsistencies
between the two accounts.
Genesis 2:4 has been variously translated to imply that creation either took
one day, or took a longer interval. Among those translations that imply a
single-day creation are:
|The 21st Century King James Version: "These are the generations of
the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the
LORD God made the earth and the heavens."
|Amplified Bible: "This is the history of
the heavens and of the earth when they were created. In the day that the
Lord God made the earth and the heavens."
|English Standard Version: "These are the generations of the heavens
and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made
the earth and the heavens.
|King James Version (KJV): Identical to the 21st Century KJV.
|New American Standard Bible: "This is the account of the heavens and
the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth
and heaven. |
|New King James Version: "This is the history of the heavens and the
earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth
and the heavens."
|Young's Literal Translation: "These [are] births of the heavens and
of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of Jehovah God's making
earth and heavens;"|
Among those translations that imply a longer creation interval are:
|Holman Christian Standard Bible: "These are the records of the
heavens and the earth, concerning their creation at the time that the LORD
God made the earth and the heavens.|
|The Jerusalem Bible: "Such were the origins of heavens and
earth when they were created."
|Living Bible: "Here is a summary of the events in the creation
of the heavens and the earth which the Lord God has made."
|Modern Language: "These are the generations of the heavens and
the earth in their creation."
|New Century Version: "This is the story of the creation of the
sky and the earth."
|New International Version: "This is the account of the heavens
and the earth when they were created."
|New Living Translation: "This is the account of the creation
of the heavens and the earth."
|New World Translation: "This is a history of the heavens
and the earth in the time of their being created.
|Revised Standard Version: "These are the generations of the
heavens and the earth when they were created."
|Exodus 20:11 and 31:17: Creation is described as taking six days.
|Job 38:4 to 38:7 The creation of the earth is described as occurring on a single
morning "when the morning stars sang together."|
Related essays on this website:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Gary Locklair, "Doctrine of Creation," 2004-JAN, at:
- David Beck, "The Bible: A true and accurate account of creation?
Summary," Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education,
- Tom Harpur, "Creationist arguments are damaging to Christianity,"
The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-19, Page L11.
- H.C. Kee, et al, "The Cambridge Companion to the Bible", Cambridge
University Press, New York, NY, (1997), Page 45 to 46
Copyright © 2005 to 2011 by
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-FEB-09
Author: B.A. Robinson