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The problem is that fruiting trees (flowering plants) didn't arrive until about 160 million years ago. Animals (including dinosaurs and mammals) date back more than 200 million years.

Are there any explanations for this?

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    Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to better understand how this site works. This does not appear to be a Biblical question.
    – Dottard
    Dec 15, 2023 at 19:17
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    Actually, animals were created on days 5 and 6 according to Genesis 1.
    – Dottard
    Dec 15, 2023 at 19:18
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    @Jiminion your question is liable to be closed because you haven't framed it biblically. (for some of us that isn't a problem but I suspect it will indeed be closed unless begin with a specific bible verse and edit the main question ... ) Dec 15, 2023 at 20:55
  • @Dottard TY. I cannot find the aforementioned link.
    – Jiminion
    Dec 16, 2023 at 1:35
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    The link is immediately below "Biblical Hermeneutics" at the bottom of the page, labeled "Tour".
    – Dottard
    Dec 16, 2023 at 5:41

3 Answers 3

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There are two main explanations:

  1. Genesis 1 is ahistorical, and tells the creation of the world allegorically. The "days" of Genesis 1 are not actual days, nor even periods of time, but are instead a framework for understanding the categories of things God created.

  2. Creationists dispute the conventional dates of other scientists, reinterpreting the paleontological evidence we do have, arguing that the chronology of the Bible can be relied upon, and is compatible with the evidence we have. One of the main arguments is that radiometric dating is not reliable or consistent.

These two positions posit different genres for Genesis 1 - though both would say it has the form of a historical narrative, for the framework view it was not intended to actually convey historical truths, whereas the Creationist view says it does convey historical truths. This affects how we read it, but we can't actually determine which view is correct just from exegeting Genesis alone.

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  • I wasn't so concerned about the "days' aspect. More the order. Could the word for 'fruiting trees' be misinterpreted?
    – Jiminion
    Dec 16, 2023 at 2:39
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If we accept the text as describing literal truth, then fruiting trees were the result of what science would call a miracle. That is, the result cannot be explained by the rules of science.

The conflict with the physical evidence available today can be seen in a similar statement:

Genesis 2 (ESV):

8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The trees in the Garden of Eden were at most 3-days old, and, if the garden was planted on the sixth day, they were less then a day old.

After leaving the Garden, the man and woman could have planted their own garden. For instance, suppose they wanted to create a memorial garden as an example to show their children what they lost. All they would need is a place, seeds, and time. Eventually the memorial garden would grow and reach a point in which it had fruit. The amount of time it would take would be years, not days as the original.

Based on their experiences with growing fruit trees outside the Garden, after the Seventh Day, they would reason the Garden of Eden had also taken years to grow.

Conclusion
Physical objects created in the first 6-days have the appearance of age when the standard of time by which they are judged is based on events which take place after the Seventh Day.

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The plants being created within the first three days sets it apart from the other living creatures that were created during the second lot of three days.

You will note that plants reproduce, but aren’t described as moving.

In the second lot of three days, however, all the living creatures have something that distinguished them from living plants.

On day 4 the lights in the sky signal times. I think we are supposed to presume the reason is that they move, following a fixed path across the sky.

On day 5 we have the creatures that “teem” in the water, and “fly” in the sky.

Day 6 we have the creatures that “crawl” across the land.

I think this emphasis on movement rather than reproduction tells us that God prioritises free will over life (after all these creatures are free to move wherever they want within their domain.) So when at the end of day 6, mankind is tasked to rule, the implication is that if we choose to rule in a way that causes death, that God will honour that.

So I hesitate to read a scientific meaning into the ordering of the creation of living things when it seems that the purpose of the text is make a theological point.

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