There are seven truths taught in the creation account in Genesis 1:1–2:3 that should inform our understanding when it comes to the issue of evolution and the age of the earth.
Genesis 1:1 teaches the beginning of God’s material act of creation. The opening prepositional phrase “in the beginning” is a translation of one Hebrew word beresit. It is used in the absolute state (as in Isaiah 46:10, ESV) rather than in the construct form (if it was in the construct form, we could not deduce absolute creation from Genesis 1:1–3). Further evidence of creation ex nihilo is found in Genesis 1:3 in the phrase “let there be.” Scripture clearly tells us that the divine command brought creation into existence (cf. Psalm 33:6, 9, 148:1–6). The divine speech “let there be” describes creation and history coming into existence together.
While many have tried to squeeze the idea of millions of years into verse 2, or argue that Day One begins in verse 3 and not verse 1, the grammar of the verses 1–3 rule this out. The verb bara (create) in verse 1 is in the perfect tense form, and verse 3 uses the waw-consecutive verb (“and said God” is the literal Hebrew with “and said” being one word made up of the waw [“and”] as a prefix to the imperfect verb [“said”]). Verse 2 begins with a waw disjunctive (the Hebrew letter waw connected to the noun “earth”), which explains what the earth was like when God first created it. Consequently, this means that the account of events begins in verse 1 and continues in verse 3. Verse 2 is a parenthetical statement and therefore is not part of the sequence of events, but rather describes the original condition of the earth. Moreover, Exodus 20:11 states that God made everything in six days, which means that He did not make anything prior to the first day. Because the verse says He made the earth during those six days, this is further evidence that Day One begins in Genesis 1:1, not 1:3.
In secular cosmology, the supposed big bang theory has the sun, moon, and stars existing for billions of years before the earth. However, the Bible teaches that they were made (not “appeared”) on Day Four, three days after the earth was created. The Bible also teaches that the earth was initially covered by a global ocean, and then dry land was formed out of water (Genesis 1:2–9; 2 Peter 3:5). By contrast, the big bang model teaches that the earth started out as molten rock, developed a dry crust, and later seas and lakes formed. There is no problem in the text with the sun being created on Day Four unless you are trying to accommodate a secular view of solar origin. The Bible tells us that God created light on Day One (Genesis 1:3), yet it does not tell us what the source was. However, is it really too difficult for the God who is light (1 John 1:5) to create a source of light without the sun or the stars (as He did when he blinded Saul on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:3–8])? Not at all!
In Genesis 1:26–27, God made the first man and woman in His own image and distinct from the animals. From a biblical perspective, mankind is not just a random accident or a glorified ape, but is the crowning glory of God’s creation (Psalm 8:3–9).
Genesis 1:29–30 indicates that man and animals had a vegetarian diet before the Fall, which of course rules out carnivorous activity. Although some argue that the eating of plants would involve their death, this overlooks the fact that plants are not described the Bible as “living creatures” as man and the animals are. The words used to describe their termination are more descriptive such as “wither” or “fade” (Psalm 37:2, 102:11; Isaiah 64:6). Even after the Fall, Adam and Eve were to eat the herb of the field (Genesis 3:17–19), and it was not until after the Flood that man could eat meat (Genesis 9:3). The Fall in Genesis 3 would best explain the origin of carnivorous animal behaviour.
The key point in understanding the length of the days in Genesis 1 is that they are numbered and used with the qualifiers “morning” and “evening.” Those contextual clues help us comprehend their meaning. The six days of creation and the seventh day of rest, according to the text, are normal 24-hour days. Using other passages that speak to the same topic assists in determining the proper interpretation since Scripture will never contradict itself. Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 make it clear that the events of Genesis 1:1–2:3 occurred in six literal days, just as the text plainly says.
God had already stated six times that His creation was “good” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). However, at the end of Day Six God saw all that He had made and declared it to be “very good” (v. 31). When “good” (tov) is modified by “very” (me’od), it is an absolute superlative implying much more than a beautiful creation. The phrase “very good” indicates that God created the world perfect with no evil in it. The Bible links the reality of death and suffering to the sin of the first man, which thereby brought corruption into God’s “very good” creation (Genesis 2:17, 3:17–19; Romans 5:12, 8:19–22; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
God’s Word could not be clearer for people of all times, cultures, ages, and levels of education to understand. He created in six literal days just a few thousand years ago. Will we believe and proclaim boldly what He said?