In North America, the vast majority of scientific creationists, and almost
all of the creation
science organizations, are Christian. They assume that that a literal
interpretation of the creation
story/stories in the book of Genesis are accurate. They believe that God created all life
forms, the world, and the rest of the universe. Most believe that this happened fewer than ten thousand years ago. This belief
in a new and created universe is common among
Fundamentalists and other Evangelical
Christians, because it is the only theory that is compatible with conservative
Christians' belief in:
The inerrancy of the Bible. Each
passage in he Bible is viewed as being without error, wherever it discusses
theological, historical, spiritual, scientific or other matters.
Reliance on the literal interpretation of the Bible, except when a symbolic meaning is
obviously intended by the author.
The concept that species evolved naturally or that God used evolutionary
processes to create new species is abhorrent to many conservative Christians.
Evolution implies that countless trillions of animals have attacked each other,
suffered and died over billions of years in order to bring the
earth to its present state. Many feel that God would not have developed such an
inhumane and inefficient method.
Some creation scientists attempt to harmonize Genesis with the findings of
earth and biological scientists. This is doomed to failure, mainly because the
Bible's order of creation does not agree with that of the fossil record, and
thus with the theory of evolution.
Much of the conflict among conservative Christians over origins involves the precise
meaning of the Hebrew word "yom," in Genesis 1-3. This is
normally translated into English as "day." Those who believe that the universe was literally created in
six 24 hour days
support their argument by:
Referring to Genesis 1:5 to 31. These verses
state repeatedly that various days had a morning and an evening. Many who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible tend to believe that
its passages should normally be interpreted literally. A day would thus
be a 24 hour interval, unless there were some unusual circumstances
that would point to an alternative, symbolic meaning.
Arguing that the concept of the
Sabbath being observed as a day of rest every seventh day (Genesis
2:2-3) does not make a lot of sense unless the days of creation were
24 hour days.
Noting that one of three versions of the Ten
Commandments directly links six days of human
work with the six days of God's creation. Including the Sabbath, both
are one week long:
Exodus 20:8-11 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
You shall do all of your work in six days. But the seventh day is the
Sabbath of the Lord your God. On it, you shall do no work: you, nor your
son, nor your daughter, nor your male slave, nor your female slave, nor
your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. This is because
the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in
them in six days, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD
blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
to this same Hebrew word, "yom," being translated as "the day of God's wrath" in Job 20:28
referring to a period of time of indeterminate length. Similarly, when
translated from Greek, 2 Corinthians 6:2 refers to "the day of salvation"
-- again a time interval that is apparently not equal to 24 hours.
Divisions with creation science:
Modern day creation scientists are divided into many sub-groups, primarily according to
their interpretation of the Hebrew word "yom" (day) in Genesis 1-3,
and their belief on whether the six "days" were contiguous. All reject the
possibility of biological evolution of the species through gradual change. 1
According to author Frank Egleston Robbins: 2 from
Origen in the 3rd century CE until John
Milton in the 17th century, there have been more than 300
Christian authors who wrote about the six days of creation. 3
Some writers, including Ambrose, Basil, Bede and Calvin,
interpreted the days as normal 24 hour periods. Others, such as
Augustine and Origen, interpreted the days figuratively or
An attempt to resolve the conflicts in biblical interpretation:
The Presbyterian Church
in America (PCA) is a conservative denomination within the
Presbyterian movement. They created a Creation Study Committee to study
the first three chapters of the book of Genesis -- the creation account
-- and to interpret its meaning of the term "day." They presented their
report, a 92 page document, to the PCA's 28th General Assembly on
2000-JUN-6. They found that their committee reached a consensus on many
The creation story is "...history, not myth..." It
really happened, just as Genesis describes.
"...the doctrine of creation lies at the basis of the Christian
The committee was unable to reach agreement over their prime
directive: to interpret the Hebrew word "yom" (day) in Genesis
They were concerned lest their church divide over this issue.
The committee members decided that there are four main views of
creation days represented within their group. However, they were unable to determine whether
which -- if any -- of the four is the correct view. This implies that they were unable to
determine the truth, either through reason or through prayer to God.
The Creation Study Committee identified four
Calendar-day interpretation (a.k.a. biblical
creationists, scientific creationism, young earth creationism,literal creationism,
literal view, traditional view, twenty-four-hour view): This
is probably the most popular current belief system among very conservative
Christians. It is the historical belief taught by the Christian religion. They interpret the two Genesis
accounts of creation literally and attempt to blend the two stories; the "day"
mentioned in Genesis 1 is thus a standard 24 hour day, and creation was completed in 6
normal days. In their view, most sedimentary rocks were laid down during the
world-wide Noahic flood.
Most believe that the earth is less than 10,000 years old; some hold to 4004
BCE as being the approximate year of creation.
Day-age theory: They define each of the "days" in Genesis 1 as
referring to a specific time interval that is not 24 hours in duration. A
"day" in Genesis is "understood in the same sense as 'in that day' of
Isaiah 11:10-11." 4 1000 years is a common value, and is based upon the
statement in II Peter 3:8 ".... one day is with the Lord as a thousand years;....
Many believe that Adam and Eve were created circa 4004 BCE. Creation would then have occurred over a 6 thousand year period, starting circa 10,000
BCE. The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, states that one day with God is
equivalent to 10,000 years. That would push creation back to about
64,000 years BCE. Both these Christian and Muslim beliefs fall way short
of the 4.5 billion year age of the earth as measured by radiometric
Some feel that God's creative work was spread out over the
full interval of time that made up the "day." Others believe
that his work was done within a 24 hour day; he then waited for a long
interval; during that time, animals and plants that he had created
developed fully. "The six days are taken as sequential but as
overlapping and perhaps merging into one another." 4
Framework hypothesis: This view "asserts that Genesis 1 is
not to be taken as a literal, chronological account of creation, but
rather a topical account which asserts God created all things."
5 Creation is described as having taken six days followed
by a day when God rested. But the creation week is a metaphor, not a
definition of an interval of time. The purpose of the creation story is
mainly to teach humans that they should design their life around a
six-day work week, followed by on day reserved as the Sabbath. It is not
meant to imply that God actually took six days (144 hours) to perform all
of the tasks. "...we should interpret it topically and not
Analogical Days Interpretation: Each of the "days" in the
creation stories are God's workdays. They are "analogous (but not
necessarily identical) to human workdays."4 Each
"day" represents a period during which God performed a major activity.
The days are: "successive periods of unspecified length. They may
overlap in part, or may reflect logical rather than chronological
criteria for grouping certain events on certain days."
Other creation science interpretations of Genesis:
Other interpretations of the first three chapters of Genesis
that broadly fit into the scientific creation theory are:
Indefinite-age theory: (a.k.a. Old Earth creationism)
The six days in Genesis were not 24 hours long. Rather, they were
extremely long intervals of time. Each was perhaps millions or hundreds
of millions of years long. They do not assign a specific length to any
of the Genesis "days", but believe that God created the earth and its
life forms in the sequence specified in Genesis, over an interval of
time lasting billions of years. They accept various scientific
observations and measurements which indicate that the
earth has been in existence for billions of years. However, they reject
biological evolution. They believe that God created various "kinds" of
animals and that no new species have been developed since creation.
Gap theory creationists: (a.k.a. interval
interpretation, gap restitution, ruin and restoration and gap theory.). They believe that after God
created "the heaven and the earth" as described in Genesis 1:1, there was
a very long time interval - sufficient to accommodate many geological ages.
The earth apparently existed for billions of years without light from
the sun, moon and stars. Some believe that their light was obstructed
by an overcast condition which God removed on the fourth day. They maintain
that the conventional translation of Genesis 1:2 ("And the earth was without form
and void..") is inaccurate. A better translation is that "the earth
waste and void", perhaps because of the fall of Satan or of some unspecified cataclysmic judgment of God
before the first humans were created. Verse 3 and following then describes how God
reclaimed his creation. Jeremiah 4:23-26; Isaiah 45:18; and Ezekiel 28:12-15 may have echoes
of this interval. This belief can be traced back into Jewish writings from
the second century
Seven-day theory: God created the universe over a period of
six days, each 24 hours long. This happened an unknowable but very long
Revelatory-device theory: The author(s) of Genesis used
"days" as a literary technique to organize his description
of creation -- similar to a playwright organizing a play into six
acts. An analogy might be a description of a construction
project. A building might be portrayed as being built in many phases:
phase 1 would be excavation; phase 2 would be pouring of the
foundation; phase 3 would the erecting the steelwork, etc. Perhaps the author(s) are using "day" where other writers might indicate
Revelatory-day theory: Perhaps God showed Moses the sequence of events that made up creation
-- something like a TV documentary. Perhaps God took 6 days to
complete the demonstration. Moses, in writing the first chapters of Genesis was describing the illustration, not the original creation.
Biblical reality theory: God created the universe (earth,
moon, stars, etc) over a three day period, over 10 billion years ago.
God also created various forms of life on earth and at other locations
throughout the universe. Various species lived and died since,
producing the fossil record. Dinosaurs, for example, and about 70% of the other living species on Earth at the time, all died off
about 65 million years ago. After the most recent ice-age, God created
humans and modern animals about 10,000 years ago.
Noah's flood and humanity's
greatest genocide happened circa 2611 BCE.
Intermittent day theory: Each of the days refer to 24 hour
intervals. But they are separated by intervals of unknown length. "That
is, the days are "normal," and consecutive, but not contiguous."
"Days of divine fiat" theory: God took six consecutive
24 hour days to command the universe into existence. But the orders took
an unknown period of time to be actually fulfilled.
Expanding time theory: Gerald Schroeder, an Israeli
physicist, suggests that the first day of creation is 24 hours long,
when viewed from the "beginning of time perspective" -- from the
perspective of the "big bang." It lasted eight billion years from our
perspective. Each of the remaining five days lasted half as long as the
previous day: four billion, two billion, one billion, half billion,
quarter billion. This ads up to 15.75 billion years, which agrees
modern "big bang" cosmology.
Replicated earth theory: Mike Schuler has developed a novel
theory of origins, and has begun a web site to explain this and other
scientific puzzles. 9 He believes that God created an
original earth. He spent billions of years trying every possible genetic
code, to see what types of life would result. Most of the species were
useless. God created a mass extinction event whenever the world
filled up with such unneeded species. At the end of this great
experiment, he was ready to create humans in the image of God. So he
created an exact copy of that original earth in perfect detail, down to
the atomic level. This took him only six days, as Genesis states.
Schuler draws the analogy of the creation of a music CD. It might take
months to create a new CD, but a copy can be created in seconds. The
young earth -- the one that we live on -- is a precise duplicate of the
original old Earth, and includes all of the fossils of those extinct
species and the geological evidence of an old earth, which were
byproducts of God's grand experiment. But it is only a copy of the
original, with the addition of the human race. 9
Summary of various theories:
Judeo-Christian theories based on Genesis: These theories conflict
with each other. None agree with the hundreds of other creation stories taught
by non-Judeo-Christian religions. Only one -- perhaps none -- can be correct.
The theories are listed below in alphabetic order:
Duration of creation:
Six "days," of unknown lengths.
"Days" are God's work-days, not 24
1) Stars and earth: billions of years ago.
2) Humans: about 8000 BCE.
1) Three days, each 24 hours long.
2) Three days, each 24 hours long.
Two separate creation intervals.
After 8000 BCE.
Six 24 hour days.
Many alternative names.
About 10000 BCE.
Six "days", each 1,000 years long.
"Days of divine fiat"
Six 24 hour days for God to initiate
It tool a long interval for creation to
actually take place.
About 15 billion years ago.
First day: 8 billion years. Each remaining
day half as long as the previous day.
Genesis not to be interpreted literally
Billions of years ago.
A gap of billions of years between creation
and the Garden of Eden story.
Billions of years ago.
Six time periods, each tens or hundreds of
millions of years long.
Six days, each 24 hours long.
Days of creation separated by long intervals
Billions of years ago, for the original
"old" Earth. A few thousand years for the "new" Earth.
Billions of years, for the old Earth. Six
days for the new Earth.
It took God billions of years to create an
original earth. Then he copied in in a few days.
The six days of Genesis refer to the time
that God took to describe creation to Moses.
"Days" are like phases of a construction
Billions of years ago.
Six 24 hour days.
It only took God six days to create the
world, many billions of years ago.
Scientific theories based on secular data sources: These are
accepted by over 99% of the geological and biological scientists in the U.S.
Start of the universe
Species developed over
About 15 billion years ago
About 3.5 billion years
Species evolved due to natural forces and processes.
About 15 billion years ago
About 3.5 billion years
Evolution guided by God.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Dick Fischer, "The Origins Solution", Fairway Press (1966)
Frank Egleston Robbins, "The Hexaemeral Literature: A Study of the
Greek and Latin Commentaries on Genesis," University of Chicago Press,