Joby submitted a comment on our website that relates that Genesis 1-2 talk about God finishing His creation “in six days.” But he asks, if God is most powerful, “why can’t he finish it within seconds or just a snap of a finger?” He asks for someone to help him clarify his “humble doubt.”
Here are some responses to consider.
Joby, thank you so much for your comment on our Room For Doubt website. It raises the issue about how long God took for His creation of the universe as described in Genesis 1-2. I think you are correct that God, if He is truly all powerful, could have created everything “within seconds.” But perhaps the more important question is this: how long did God actually take for this creation? I believe that the best way to answer that question is to examine both the Bible and nature.
What does the Bible primarily teach us about creation? What can we learn from nature through the various sciences that exist, like cosmology, geology, biology, etc.?
The truth is that there are several ways that the Bible is interpreted by those who truly love God and who believe that the Bible is God’s special revelation to us. Some believe that it took six literal days (144 hours I suppose). Others believe that the “six days” lasted long periods of time. So which is correct? To answer this question, it is important to allow God’s revelation in nature to help us. Here, I think that the strongest case that can currently be made is that the universe is very old—perhaps billions of years old. If so, then this should help us determine how best to interpret the “six days” in Genesis.
Minimally, the most important points about creation in Genesis have to do with (1) who did it and (2) why. When compared to all of the other creation accounts in the ancient Near East, the Genesis account is distinct. The universe was created by the one and only God who created all things. And this God created humans, not as mere servants to do the “dirty work” of the gods, but to be honored by being created “in God’s image” (Gen 1:26-27); to have the privilege of filling the earth and subduing it (Gen 1:26,28); to appreciate the beauty and goodness of food and earth’s water and minerals (Gen 1:29-31; 2:9,11-14); to cultivate and care for God’s creation (Gen 2:15); to have suitable relationships with others (Gen 2:18-24); and to have ongoing fellowship with God (Gen 3:8-9). In contrast to other creation accounts, the uniqueness of the Genesis creation narrative focuses on these matters, not on how long it took.
Thanks again for your very important and candid comment. I believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to have “humble doubt” about how long creation took, but we can be more confident in the Who and the Why of creation based on what we can learn from the Bible and from nature itself.
If you would like a little more to consider, here are two other articles on our website that address this issue. Hopefully, you will find these helpful. Click here to go to the “What about the age of the universe? Young or old?” article. Click here to go to the Cosmology Room.
–Dr. Rich Knopp, Program Director, Room For Doubt; Professor of Philosophy & Christian Apologetics, Lincoln Christian University.