I understand that some Christians feel it necessary to accommodate a long period of time (which is suggested by some scientists for reasons of radioactive decay, the fossil record, geological formation and the red shift of starlight) into the scriptural record.

However I have yet to be informed of how that works and how the actual timeline of Genesis chapter one should be understood, since the wording does not appear to me to suggest any 'age' for the earth at all.

Luke's genealogy of the Lord states quite categorically, that there are seventy generations from Christ back to Adam. Arguments for a longer period of time centre on the Genesis genealogies and are complex semantic arguments.

But I would be interested to know what the exact timeline of Genesis chapter one is, when Christian Evolutionists insert the long period of time which modern science demands.

Note that I am not, in this question, concerned with biological evolution.

I appreciate that an argument is necessary to insert the time required for so-called biological 'evolution' to occur (if one believes in such a thing, which I do not) but my concern - in this question - is solely as to the timeline of Genesis Chapter one as Christian Evolutionists understand it, beginning at verse one.

I am not asking for technicalities of archaeology, paleontology, geology, biology or molecular biochemistry. I am just asking for a plain timeline through Genesis chapter one with the long time period, which is assumed, inserted into the details of the text.

Personally, I do not know how old the earth is. Personally, I do not think we can know. Personally, I do not think it matters to anybody. I am told by Luke of seventy generations and I am told by Jesus Christ that 'one thing is needful' which should preoccupy me for the brief time that I am given in this present life.

And therein I am content.

But I would be interested to see how Christian Evolutionism actually manages to arrange the details of Genesis chapter one in such a way that makes sense of the actual text of scripture.

Note, also, that I specify Christian Evolutionists since Genesis one contains a wealth of spiritual matter concerning creation as such, which is relevant to the New Creation also, as it is revealed and expressed in the doctrine of Christ made known by the apostles of Jesus Christ.

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    There are several established views, best characterized in a 1997 statement by the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), an organization for Christian scientists. The statement is adopted unanimously and delineates a common ground ("General Statement on Creation") plus 4 views: Young-Earth (Recent Creation), Old-Earth (Progressive Creation), Theistic Evolution (Continuous Creation, Evolutionary Creation), and Intelligent Design. Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 11:44
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    Some hold that, just as Adam was created all at once but fully formed with an intrinsic age, so the universe was created according to the Genesis 1 chronology fully formed with an intrinsic age. Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 12:04
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    @GratefulDisciple You seem to have a lot of information at your fingertips. I look forward, hopefully, to an answer in the future.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 12:07
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    @NigelJ "I look forward, hopefully, to an answer in the future." My preferred way of reading Genesis 1 is mythic reading and literary reading both of which I think do full justice to what God wants to communicate to us. It's much less dependent on timeline than on theological truths of how God relates to His creation. So I don't think I will contribute an answer in the near future. Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 12:22
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    @NigelJ - A literal reading of Genesis shows that birds were created with sea creatures on day five while land animals were not created until day six. This is in direct opposition to the Darwinian view that birds evolved from land animals. The literalist account says birds preceded land animals. If theistic evolutionists hold to Darwinian evolution, that would contradict the biblical account in Genesis.
    – Lesley
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


Firstly, many thinking Christians accept the science of evolution - that animals adapt over time - but don't see it as an explanation of how all life came to be here, so do not assume that all 'Christian evolutionists' believe entirely in every aspect of evolution theory.

Secondly, the Bible is very specific about the timing of man's creation. The genealogy of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Luke was evidently researched from temple records. To believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible means to trust that record, which takes man's history all the way back to Adam. However, the creative 'days' that led up the creation of mankind are now believed by many to be simply 'stages' of creation that can accommodate the long period of time for the creation of the universe, the earth, and all animal and plant life until the creation of Adam. This may be what you refer to in your opening paragraph. So you may actually be referring to Christians who accept that the earth, the universe, the fossil record of animals, etc are as old as science claims (ie they are not 'young earth creationists') but do not necessarily believe in evolution as the origin of mankind.

Taking that view, that the creative 'days' allow for any length of time, Genesis chapter 1 is a simple explanation of the stages of creation. "In the beginning" would be the start of the physical universe, including the Earth. The order in which each 'stage' occurs is broadly in line with the order in which evolutionary biology suggests things appeared. It states that the first life was in the sea, and all other animals come before man. The appearance of 'light' on the earth doesn't necessarily suggest that the luminaries were created after the earth, just that the light reached the earth, or that the atmosphere allowed for it. It cannot be fitted to a 'timeline' as such because we do not know how long each of those 'days' could be. In most languages, a 'day' is any length of time with a marked beginning and an end. In fact, Genesis 2:4 refers to "the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens" - in other words, the 6 days of creation in Genesis 1 are then all grouped together as a single day!

One thing you may like to note is that Genesis 1:7 mentions that, during the creation of the earth, God "divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament". Taken literally this means that at the time of Adam there was an expanse of water above the earth. Many believe that when the "windows of heaven" mentioned at Genesis 7:11 were opened at the Flood this was an end of that expanse of water above and all that water remains on the earth today. If this is the case, then dating techniques involving present understanding of radioactive decay and carbonation may not be at all accurate on anything before this date as the atmosphere diffusing such forces would have been quite different.

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    Although you have presented this as your own view and your own apprehension of scripture, it is balanced, sensible and well informed. Therefore, although you have not linked to any group or organisation which hold to the above I am accepting it as a well-thought out and balanced statement. Therefore up-voted +1 and accepted as the best answer.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 15:22
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    @NigelJ Thank you. I prefer to make my answers non-denominational wherever possible, but especially on this matter because the unification of science and the bible is not something that many (if any) denominations actually teach as 'doctrine'. It tends to be discussed, possibilities put forward and in some cases documented, but no church really teaches specifically how to unify science with belief. Fact is, science changes all the time. The currently believed age of the universe is different to what was believed 100 years ago. Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 8:02

First of all, I would say that the better term to use is Theistic Evolution. Just a small vocabulary thing.

There are several accepted views. I will list two relevant views.

  1. The Non-Historical Adam. This is a view espoused by people such as Pete Enns. I will link a podcast episode and recommend his book (which I will admit I have not read yet), "The Evolution of Adam". In essence, the idea is that genesis is a parallel to the story of Israel.

  2. The Historical Adam. This is a view espoused by William Lane Craig, who I believe just recently released his book on the topic. The view is that Adam and Eve did exist and had first sin, but evolution occurred. It notes that Genesis 2 seems like less of a recap of Genesis 1, but more a separate story. There is a multitude of ways of going from here, but the general idea is that Genesis 1 is a story, with parableistic value. Think of something like that of the prodigal son, a story with value, but not one that occurred.

  • This did not answer my question. See the last paragraph : Note, also, that I specify Christian Evolutionists since Genesis one contains a wealth of spiritual matter concerning creation as such, which is relevant to the New Creation also, as it is revealed and expressed in the doctrine of Christ made known by the apostles of Jesus Christ. This is not a 'small vocabulary thing' - the answer attempted to change my question instead of answering it.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 7:36
  • Sorry, what do you mean by Christian evolutionists?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 19:45
  • You are using the term 'Theistic Evolution'. I am using the term 'Christian Evolutionists'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 7:55
  • Yes, can you elaborate on the relevant differences?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 15:10
  • I would have thought it was very obvious. Please see the statement of the question,
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 10:54

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