How Old is the Universe?
The fact of fiat creation has, as shown in the foregoing, been conclusively documented in Scripture, as has the fact that all of God’s work of creating and making was finished and completely functioning (pronounced “very good” by God) by the end of the six-day creation period described in chapter 1 of Genesis.
There is, nevertheless, a widely held opinion, even among those evangelical Christians who do not believe in evolution, that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old and the universe perhaps 15 billion years old. The reasons for holding such an opinion, however, cannot be derived from Scripture, for the Bible clearly teaches that all things were made in six solar days, not over several billion years.
While occasionally the word for “day” in Genesis (Hebrew yom) can be used to mean “time” in general, it is never used in the Old Testament (in over a thousand occurrences) to mean a definite period of time, with a beginning and an end, unless that period is either a literal day or the daylight part of the day/night cycle. Furthermore, it can mean “time” instead of a literal day only if the context requires it. The context certainly does not require it here in Genesis; the only reason for suggesting such a thing is the supposed necessity of finding 4.6 billion years of earth history in the Genesis record of creation.
In fact, the context in Genesis 1 completely precludes any such interpretation, as though the writer anticipated future attempts to do this and was trying specifically to guard against it. God defines his terms, and the very first time the word “day” was used, he was careful to do just this. “God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Gen. 1:4, 5).
“Day,” therefore, was defined by the Lord as the light period in the light/darkness cycle which he initiated on that first day and which has continued every day since. There is no way it could mean anything like a geological age in this context.
The terminology “evening and morning” as bounding each day, and the numbering of the successive days as “first day,” “second day,” etc., both add further contextual restrictions guarding the literal use of “day” here, for both usages are always applied in the Old Testament only to literal days.
The “days,” therefore, are regular solar days, and the divine acts of creating and making on each day were all accomplished and finished during six of these days. Each verse in the chapter begins with “and,” using the Hebrew conjunction waw, indicating continuing and successive action. There is no room in the narrative for time gaps of any consequence, certainly not billions of years.
If any uncertainty still remains on this question, however, it should be forever dispelled by the divinely inscribed (as well as inspired) words of the fourth commandment. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God . . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11).
It could hardly be clearer than this. Man’s six days of work followed by one day of rest were specifically patterned after God’s primeval week, and this is the very reason why people all over the world have kept time in weeks ever since. In fact, Jesus said that “the sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). There should no longer be any doubt that God created and made everything in the universe in a week of six days followed by a day of rest, exactly like our week. Otherwise, language itself is meaningless, and God cannot communicate with those he created in his image. Yet these words were inscribed on “tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18), and God considered them so important that disobedience to them by an Israelite was punishable by death.
In addition to these explicit statements, the absolute silence of the entire Bible with respect to great ages of time before man is very significant. On the other hand, there are several passages that indicate quite definitely that people have been living on earth since its very beginning.
For example, Zacharias the priest, father of John the Baptist, in his prayer of thanksgiving for the coming of the Messiah in fulfillment of prophecy, noted that God had been speaking “by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70). Similarly, the apostle Peter, during his sermon in the porch of the temple, said that Christ had returned to heaven ‘‘until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).
Thus, both Zacharias and Peter affirmed that God’s prophets had been promising Christ’s coming since the very first age of the world, not just since the end of some previous geological age.
Similarly, Jesus spake of “the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50). The first such prophet was Abel (Luke 11:51), the son of Adam. Cain slew his brother right at the beginning of world history, not 4 billion years later.
One of the most clear-cut references of this type (and others could be cited) is found in the answer of the Lord Jesus to the hypocritical question of the Pharisees about marriage and divorce. “Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart [Moses] wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife” (Mark 10:5-7).
Here the Lord Jesus (who was there when Adam and Eve were created, for he was their Creator!) was quoting from “both” accounts of creation (as the liberals would call them) in the same context (quoting from Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:24), without the slightest acknowledgment of the liberals’ claim that the two accounts are contradictory. He regarded them both as divinely inspired and of such authority that he based his teaching on marriage, the most important of all human institutions, on them.
But note in particular his understanding of the time of this definitive event. It was at “the beginning of the creation” that “male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27), not—as theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists assert—some billion years after the beginning of the creation that reproduction evolved, and then over 3.5 billion years later still that men and women evolved (or “were created”).
We must conclude, in view of all the above, if we are honest with God’s Word, that the whole universe was made in six literal days.
Furthermore, there is no place in the Bible for geological ages either before the six days of creation (as per the so-called gap theory) or after them. “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). All the stars in the heaven, all the deep core and mantle and crust of the earth, all the waters of the sea, were made in the six days of creation week. There was nothing before that, except God, for God himself said so, inscribing this comprehensive summary of creation with his finger on tables of stone (Exodus 31:18).
As far as chronology after the creation week is concerned, no one has ever imagined that the supposed billions of years of earth history could be placed after man’s creation! It is barely possible that slight gaps might be found in the genealogies of Genesis 5 or Genesis 11, but nothing comparable to a billion years! As a matter of fact, there is no evidence in the context of Scripture itself that any gaps exist at all. These chapters appear to be intended as sober genealogical records, with additional data inserted at each name to yield chronological records as well. Essentially the same genealogy is inserted in 1 Chronicles 1:1-28 and Luke 3:34-38, so that neither Old Testament writers nor New Testament writers ever suggested or suspected that the Genesis genealogies were incomplete.
If we are going to rely solely on Scripture, as I am trying to do in this book, we have to conclude that God created all things in six literal days about six thousand or so years ago.
by HENRY M. MORRIS