One of the questions that arise out of this section of the Bible is the amount of time utilized in the creation process. Actually, the real question should focus on the time utilized in the creation process up to the time of the fall. Science estimates that this period is something of the order of 18 billion years (18,000,000,000 years). Strict Bible creationists believe that the creation event took 7 twenty-four hour days (168 hours) and hence the creation is only a few thousand years old. In both cases, we are speculating about the quantity of time taken in these activities. I maintain that God, who is the agency of creation, operates outside of time and that attempting to assign a specific duration to His activities is generally fruitless.
Time is an elusive quantity. We measure it in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, etc. Actually we are attempting to measure duration between events. Thus the “duration” of our lives is;
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years.” (Psalm 90:10)
God’s view of time is different from ours.
“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
Science argues that the true measure of duration is entropy. Entropy is the measure of order. The creation is moving from order to disorder; from a state where energy transfer is possible to a state of uniform temperature where no energy transfer is possible. Therefore, true measure of time is the duration between these two end-points.
The creation story is told twice in this Biblical section. Firstly, we have the general account of the creation (Genesis 1:1-2:3) and, secondly, the more detailed account of man’s creation (Genesis 2:4-2:25). Scientists argue that the duration between the creation events is a very long time, perhaps billions of years. This position facilitates the position of natural evolution. Again, those who support a strict creationist position argue that the entire process required only 7 days (or 168 hours). It seems to me that the more important question behind these two positions is “who is responsible for the creation instead of how long did it take?”
But returning to the question at hand, what was the duration of the creation event. I believe our best insight comes from the account of the seventh day.
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:2-3)
Creating activity is something that only God can do. It means “bringing something into existence where nothing existed before”. The fundamental laws of Physics declare that the quantity of matter and energy in the universe is constant, i.e., nothing is being created at this point of history. This means that God has been resting from creating activities since the initial creation events. The implication of this is that the “seventh day” spans a duration of at least many thousands of years. More specifically, the “seventh day” is longer than 24 hours. If the seventh day is longer than 24 hours then the other creation days may also be longer than 24 hours. Therefore, we conclude that the duration of the creation event and thus the age of the creation has not been revealed.
There is one other clue that indicates that we do not have sufficient information to determine the duration from the creation event until the present. Man was originally created and placed in “the Garden of Eden” in what we might call a state of “innocence”. The duration of the period between his creation and the “fall” is not revealed. As we read the story we may imagine that the duration could be seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, etc. In other words there is an undetermined period of time between the creation of man and his fall. We simply do not know. This fact makes it impossible to determine the duration of the events recorded in this section of the Bible.
Again, I would like to emphasize that duration of the creation event is much less important than the question of “who is the Creator”. For this we credit the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is His memorial name to all generations. He is the creator, the sustainer and the redeemer.