The creation story in Genesis chapter 1 was not regarded as a literal story by some of the early Christian Church Fathers, who regarded it as an allegory. For example, Origen (De Principiis, Book 4.1.16):
.as even these do not contain throughout a pure history of events, which are interwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur. Nor even do the law and the commandments wholly convey what is agreeable to reason. For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that any one doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally...
Genesis chapter 1 gradually came to be seen as a literal account, which means that we try to put a modern reading into an ancient text. The English translations we usually see were written by later theologians who believed in a literal creation account, then we add our own modern biases.
The first three words of Genesis are: "בראשית ברא אלהים" (B'reishit bara Elohim), which is often translated as, "In the beginning, God created..." There is no definite article and the grammar is complex, if not confusing. Linguists struggle to agree on how it should be translated, but there is some agreement as to how it should not be translated. Leon R. Kass says in The Beginning of Wisdom, page 27, that the translation “In the beginning” is incorrect. Kass cites Robert Alter (Genesis Translation and Commentary), who treats the first (and second) verse not as a declarative sentence but as a subordinate clause: “When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God's breath hovering over the waters, God said ...” Read as a literal creation account, this interpretation appears to mean that the earth and the primeval waters were pre-existing.
As to the stage of the universe at this time, logic says, with the benefit of modern science, that the earth was a cold and lonely rock floating through empty space until day three, when the sun, moon and stars were created. Although the temperature ought to have been at absolute zero, Genesis 1:2 tells us that the waters were liquid (even if we suppose they were not pre-existing, they should have been frozen). All these issues disappear if we return to looking at this creation account purely as an allegory.