If according to Genesis 1 God created the world in 6 days and for God a thousand years is like a day (Psalms 90:4), then did God create the world in 6000 years according to the Bible?
There are many arguments for the age of creation. Some scholars have suggested that the time between creation and Christ’s coming was 4004 years by adding up the years given in genealogies of the Old Testament.
One of the problems with this approach is that we know there are missing people in those genealogies and we do not know how long these people lived. Genealogies in the Bible are selective for theological reasons.
One of the problems with suggesting this approach that one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day is that this was not the intent of the authors who wrote these words. They were not intending to make a case for how many years and days God’s plan and actions are compared to what human time is.
In other words, God does not live by a separate set of time than humans. God created time to work as a standard. These authors are not saying that God is a thousand years slower than the human day. Psalm 90:4 attributed to Moses must be read completely instead of just part of it.
“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4, ESV)
Moses says that a thousand years is like yesterday, not a day. And he further clarifies with the line after that, a synonymous line, “or as a watch in the night.” A night watch covers around three hours of the day. So when you think about this in context, Moses is saying that time for us may seem long but for God time seems short.
One of the biggest exegetical and hermeneutical mistakes people can make is to take a metaphor and make it a simile. What I mean by this is the authors are saying, “a thousand years is as a day.” They are not saying, “a thousand years is a day.” It is not a thousand years equals one day.
This isn’t a mathematical equation. It is a comparison, saying that God is infinite, timeless, and views human time in a different way than we do. He is outside of time. But it is not saying that God made time different for himself that he does for us.
Peter also uses this phrase, perhaps alluding to Psalm 90:4 in 2 Peter 3:8. But he is making the same point that God views time differently than humanity. Because he is infinite and timeless, outside of human time which he created, he does not live through time as we do.
The best hermeneutical sound options for dating the seven days of creation is to either understand them as twenty-four hour periods of time or as eras or larger sections of time. The Hebrew word yom (day) can be viewed throughout the Old Testament in these two ways.
But if you say that a day is equal to an era instead of a twenty-four hour period you cannot pick and choose what number to assign it. The times you see day used as an era is when people say things like, “In the days of Noah,” or “In that day.” These signify a time period of more than twenty-four hours.
It is much more likely that the Bible doesn’t give us the age of the universe at all. It is not the intention of the writers or God who inspired the Scriptures to give us this information. The creation accounts were given to Israel, and ancient people with a different cosmology than any of us. They would not ask the same questions we ask.
In the creation narratives they are much more interested in who created everything than how long it took. They are also not interested in the actual materials of creation but in how they were organized for human life to happen.
The creation accounts can be compared with other ancient creation accounts for the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Canaanites. You will find some similarities and some major differences between the biblical creation accounts and those. The biblical creation account asks some of the same questions the engine cosmologies of that time asked. But it provides different answers.
It is not that Moses wrote the creation account to compete with them or correct them but to give the truth of how things happened and who created the universe. Good science can be helpful to get us close to the age of creation. But much of it has been polluted with naturalist ideas that take God out of the equation to begin with.