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:
The various species of plants, birds and other animals;
The earth itself, composed of areas of land and water;
The sun, moon and stars;
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.
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.