I find it a confusing paradox, maybe someone can help clear this up. If someone considers themselves to be a Biblical Literalist AND an Old Earth Creationist, how do you handle the dates within the bible? Please see here for the complete article Chart

And simply:

Adam was created on day 6, so there were five days before him. If we add up the dates from Adam to Abraham, we get about 2,000 years, using the Masoretic Hebrew text of Genesis 5 and 11.3 Whether Christian or secular, most scholars would agree that Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C. (4,000 years ago).

There are some grey areas in the calculation, however they're not thousands or millions of years.

  • Are there any OECs who also believe that Genesis is literal? That seems pretty paradoxical, as you say... It seems like an imagined position... Have you met or heard of someone who holds that view?
    – Flimzy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 1:59
  • @Flimzy your questions are leading to a discussion in comments about this question. Historically on Christianity.SE, that's been a bad thing. This question was spawned from an answer from one of my other questions. Since there are answers to this question, it would appear that there are people who hold this view. Nov 8, 2013 at 13:57
  • I'm not asking for a discussion; just evidence that this view exists.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 14:30
  • Sorry, I am not sure what the point is of questioning this view - if it didn't exist there would be no answers. See the answers below and answers / comments from christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/19167/… Nov 8, 2013 at 15:29
  • It's easy to form answers for viewpoints that don't exist. "What do Klingons think about war?"
    – Flimzy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


Here's one answer (emphasis added):

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Professor William Henry Green and theologian Benjamin B. Warfield noted gaps and omissions in the Genesis genealogies. This suggested the creation was conceivably older than the 6,000-year timeframe proposed by Ussher and Lightfoot. Today many Bible scholars believe the Genesis genealogies were written primarily to provide only highlights and not necessarily a complete record of every actual generation.

And here's another from Reasons to Believe that argues in essence that there is telescoping and theological (rather than strictly historical -- but that's not to say unhistorical) content therein.

This theological telling of history is akin to what we see in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus, for instance. See "The Adoption of Jesus" where the (conservative) author notes:

The generations are not counted in a precisely similar fashion — Jeconiah is counted twice. This is not inappropriate given that [the genealogy] is primarily a literary device intended to highlight the four markers [viz., Abraham, David, the exile, and Christ]. Moreover, Jeconiah rightly belongs in both groups: in the first group, he is in a line of kings; in the second group, having been deposed, he is merely counted as a man.

  • 1
    Disagreed. "Literal" here means "understanding as the author intended." If you read a poem that said, "My love is a rose," your sense of "literal" would require you to ignore the facets of language and genre and to think that the author has affections for something in the genus ''Rosa''. There a metaphorical reading is the only properly literal understanding because that is what the author intended within the genre. If we don't take the genealogies as an exhaustive list but as intentionally a highlight reel of sorts, the answer given represents a literal interpretation as the author desired.
    – metal
    Nov 11, 2013 at 21:09
  • The definition of "literal" I was using in this context is "taking words in their natural meaning (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical)." Their "natural meaning" -- i.e., the (primary, if not only) meaning intended by the author -- must account for context and genre.
    – metal
    Nov 12, 2013 at 16:29
  • 1
    In the case of the genealogies, I'd argue that the intent of the author here is not to write an exhaustive list from which we can calculate exact dates (that's the wrong genre classification) but rather a telescoped list giving the highlights. Hence a literal understanding (in the sense above) would first require the reader to recognize the genre as part of the context for naturally interpreting the words as the author intended.
    – metal
    Nov 12, 2013 at 16:32
  • I cited a dictionary that defines "literal" is approximately the sense I am using it. There are other valid meanings of the word (e.g., "not figurative or metaphorical"), but that is not how I'm using the word here. I am using it as synonymous with a grammatico-historical interpretation, which accounts for context.
    – metal
    Nov 12, 2013 at 16:38
  • I suppose you'll understand me when I say that's a nice definition of "literal."
    – Flimzy
    Nov 12, 2013 at 16:40

My answer is simple: water into wine. What this miracle demonstrated was that God can create something that has, not only the appearance, but the very substance of being aged, even if it has only existed for a mere moment. Another example would be Adam, who, being formed from the dust of the ground, was formed as a mature human, not an infant.

  • I think this is the only possible answer. There is no way to take a literal interpretation of the Bible and have no other view. It's also an incredibly week position, IMHO, but you get my upvote, because you provide the only logical answer to the question. :)
    – Flimzy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 15:33

Some say that, since the Bible says a thousand years is like a day to the Lord, that the 7 days of creation aren't literal (after all, we measure the day by the sun, which wasn't created until the fourth day).

Another theory is called the "gap" theory. Genesis 1:1 says that God made the heavens and the earth. The rest of the chapter could be a description of how He did it, or it could be something further done to the heavens and the earth that He had already made. This theory hinges on verse 2 in Genesis 1. Many translations say "And the earth was void and empty", or something like that. Other translations say "And the earth became waste and emptiness", or something similar. The idea is that God made all things perfect, He would never make something as "waste and emptiness", but at some point Satan rebelled against God and corrupted the earth. God then judged the earth, similar to Noah's time, with water. This sets the scene for Genesis 1:2 and onwards, where the earth is simply darkness and water, and God restores it to what it is today.

Both of these theories state that although mankind is ~6000 years old (which I've seen no solid evidence to prove otherwise), the earth itself is much older.

  • Both of these views, however, fall outside of a literal interpretation of the Bible, thus do not answer the question.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 8, 2013 at 15:32

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