“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Genesis 1:11)
One of the favorite biblical arguments used these days by Christian advocates of an old earth comes from a forced interpretation of this verse. While the verse seems to teach “sudden” creation, old-earth advocates interpret the verse to necessitate an indefinite time period, at least long enough for seeds to grow up into mature, seed-bearing plants. Plants differ widely and are thought to have evolved all throughout Earth history. The third day, then, must be understood as long enough to witness the appearance of all “kinds” of plants and is equated with a vast stretch of geologic time. However, there are many biblical problems with this view—a few of which follow.
Scripture teaches that “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11; see also Genesis 2:1-4; etc.), and no meaning other than a solar day is biblically defensible. The “herbs” and “trees” mentioned can only mean small or woody plants that supposedly arrived late on the evolutionary scale, for the same words are used to identify food plants on Day Six.
Furthermore, the verb “bring forth” (Genesis 1:11) is also used when God made animals, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature” (v. 24), on the sixth day. It cannot be referring to the growth of a seed out of the ground but rather must imply the sudden creation of both plants and animals in abundance.
Such compromises are impossible biblically and are quite unnecessary. There are no true facts of science that are incompatible with the young-earth teaching of Scripture. We can be sure of its teachings. JDM