Skip to content

Skip to table of contents

What the Bible Tells Us

What the Bible Tells Us

“This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time they were created.” (Genesis 2:4) With those words, the Bible summarizes its account of how our planet came to be. Does what the Bible says harmonize with scientific facts? Consider a few examples.

The Beginning: The material heavens and earth are created

Has the universe always existed?

Genesis 1:1 states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Up until the second half of the 20th century, many prominent scientists believed that the universe always existed. But based on more recent discoveries, most scientists now acknowledge that our universe did, in fact, have a beginning.

What did the earth originally look like?

Genesis 1:2, 9 describes the ancient earth as “formless and desolate,” covered in water.

That description is echoed by modern scientific findings. Biologist Patrick Shih says that our planet started with “an unbreathable atmosphere devoid of oxygen . . . overall looking more like a science fiction landscape.” Astronomy magazine reports: “New research suggests ancient Earth was a water world, with little to no land in sight.”

How did our atmosphere change over time?

Genesis 1:3-5 indicates that when light first began to penetrate the atmosphere, its source could not have been discernable from the earth’s surface. Only later would the sun and the moon have been distinctly visible from the earth.​—Genesis 1:14-18.

The Bible does not say that all life on earth was created in six 24-hour days

The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center says that our atmosphere first allowed only diffused light to reach the earth. It says: “Methane droplets in the air shrouded the young Earth in a global haze.” Later, “the methane haze cleared and the sky turned blue.”

In what order did life appear on the earth?

Genesis 1:20-27 states that fish, birds, land animals, and finally humans were created. Scientists believe that the first fish appeared long before the first mammals and that humans appeared much later.

The Bible does not say that living things cannot change over time

What Does the Bible Not Say?

Some people claim that the Bible does not harmonize with modern scientific discovery. However, such claims are often based on a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says.

The Bible does not say that the universe or the earth is only 6,000 years old. Rather, it says simply that the earth and the universe were created “in the beginning.” (Genesis 1:1) The Bible does not specify how long ago that was.

The Bible does not say that all life on earth was created in six 24-hour days. Rather, it uses the word “day” to refer to periods of time. For example, it states that the creation of our planet and life on it​—during the six creative “days” spoken of in Genesis chapter 1—​occurred in the period of time called “the day that Jehovah * God made earth and heaven.” (Genesis 2:4) So each of the six creative “days” during which God prepared the earth for life and created life on it could represent extremely long periods of time.

The Bible does not say that living things cannot undergo changes in their makeup over time. The book of Genesis states that animals were created “according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:24, 25) The Bible word “kinds” is not a scientific term, but it seems to refer to broad divisions of life-forms. Thus, a single “kind” may include many species or varieties. This wording allows for the possibility that within a “kind,” changes in the variety and the types of species that lived in the same community could occur over time.

What do you think?

As noted above, the Bible describes in simple and accurate terms the beginning of the universe, the original state of the earth, and the development of life. Might it be, then, that the Bible has also accurately identified the One who created those things? “The origin of life [as] a result of a supernatural event,” says the Encyclopædia Britannica, “is in its most general form not inconsistent with contemporary scientific knowledge.” *

^ par. 17 Jehovah is the name of God as revealed in the Bible.

^ par. 20 The Encyclopædia Britannica does not endorse the idea that life was created.