The debate at the Creation Museum between Bill Nye and Ken Ham is a great illustration of the polar opposites of possible interpretations of the Bible as people decide how literal or how figurative to take the Biblical account. Latter-day saints, with access to modern apostles and prophets plus the restoration of plain and precious parts which were taken away from Bible during the Great Apostasy, have a unique perspective on this discussion.
Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Answers in Genesis Ken Ham had a spirited debate in the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, Ohio on February 4, 2014 about evolution vs. creation as the explanation of the origins of life.
The most restrictive interpretation of the creation story in Genesis is illustrated well by Ken Ham’s view that “the Earth was created 6,000 years ago and that the Bible tells the factual account of the universe’s beginnings and the creation of humans.” Ken Ham has almost a tag line repeated many times in his talks such as “now that is not millions of years” and “God created the world in just six literal days.”
The possible options for the duration and meaning of the days of creation are actually not just the end points of six literal 24-hour earth days to create the earth, the universe and all things OR millions and billions of years of evolution with no interference by God if He exists at all. Here is a partial version of that list:
1.Six literal 24-hour earth days for the creation of the earth, the solar system, the universe, life on earth and man.
2.Six literal earth days for the creation of the earth, the solar system, life on earth and man.
3.Six literal earth days for the creation of the earth, life on earth and man.
4.Six literal earth days for the creation of life on earth and man.
5.Six thousand year periods for the creation of the earth, life on earth and man.
6.Six thousand year periods for the creation of life on earth and man.
7.Six variable length periods of time for the creation of life on earth and man via natural laws known to God.
8.An unknown period of time for the physical creation of the earth after the spiritual creation of life on earth and man during six variable length periods of time. The physical creation links together with this intelligently designed spiritual creation.
9.An unknown period of time for the physical creation of the earth after the spiritual creation of life on earth and man. The physical creation links together with the intelligently designed spiritual creation. Evolution plays a major role in the development of that physical creation of life.
10. A period of time of millions and billions of years based on evolutionary theory and dating methods. Life starts from a single cell that God created and then let evolve via chance mutation and natural selection into the multitude of living things including man.
11. A period of time of millions and billions of years based on evolutionary theory and dating methods. Life starts from a single cell that God created and then let evolve into the multitude of living things. Man, however, is an intelligently designed creation.
12. A period of time of millions and billions of years based on evolutionary theory and dating methods. Life starts from a single cell that was created by chance and natural laws of the universe and then evolved via chance mutation and natural selection into the multitude of living things including man.
A famous chronology of the Biblical history by 17th century Irish Bishop James Ussher sets the date of the first day of creation as October 23, 4004 BC. Ussher’s chronology today is usually brought up to mock him. However, even though latter-day saints do not believe in six 24 hour earth days for creation, many believe in very precise dates related to the Hebrew and other historical calendars such as the birth of Christ on April 6, 1 BC. Historical calendar astronomer John Pratt has no dates for the creation periods, but places the birth of Adam on Saturday, 17 October 4070 BC in the evening and the beginning of mortality on Sunday, 9 April 4001 BC in the morning, exactly 4,000 Passovers before Christ’s birth.
I believe that sticking with a literal “just six days” interpretation by conservative Christians demonstrates the challenges of trying perhaps too hard to avoid a slippery slope of more and more figurative interpretations that have been accepted by other more liberal Christian denominations. It is almost like Tevya in the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” seeing the changes in their traditional interpretations of how to live when he exclaimed “you pull out the prop and where does it stop? Where does it stop?”
In an era where the flood of knowledge has included so much information about the other stars and galaxies in the universe, there is a piece of logic that I think if considered carefully might allow some who believe in my option #1 above to look over their reasoning in that decision.
The strictest interpretation has the creation of the whole universe just six thousand years ago during six 24-hour earth-days. It is one thing to theorize the creation of our earth or even our solar system 6,000 years ago because miraculous power was certainly involved in the process of creation. However, what about the 200 billion star systems in our galaxy and the at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe? Would all of those about 40 * 1021 or 40 sextillion star systems come into existence when the earth was created?
This picture from the Hubble Space Telescope came from a tiny portion of the sky that seemed to almost empty with smaller telescopes. This long exposure picture from outer space shows the tiny field of view to be filled with galaxies. This research is behind the 100 billion galaxy estimate for the known universe we can detect.
It seems to me that for this option all of the worlds in the galaxies in the universe would have to start their existence at exactly the same time as earth’s creation sequence began. If there are other worlds, this option would require all of them to be synchronized into the same six day period of creation. (other worlds: “by whom He made the worlds” Hebrews 1:2)
This interpretation is actually rooted in Greek philosophy which greatly affected Christianity during the Great Apostasy after the death of the twelve apostles (except John, who was translated). The Greek “First Cause” view of God “was used by Greek thinkers and became an underlying assumption in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Seeing that so literal an interpretation of Genesis 1:16 “He made the stars also” paints one into an almost infinitely problematic corner, I believe, should draw conservative Christians who support this view back to consider a less literal interpretation that is more tenable. Perhaps a logical approach might be to assert that the creation of the universe occurred “in the beginning” and that the fourth day discussion of the sun, moon and stars was about then making them visible upon the earth to “give light upon the earth” and not about creating the whole universe out of nothing after creating the earth. (Genesis 1:16-19)
There is a good example in the New Testament of the scribes and Pharisees painting themselves into a corner with their logical reasoning about the scriptures. Jesus astounded the population when he began His ministry “for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:29) The Savior criticized them as hypocrites later when He described to what lengths this reasoning had gone: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matthew 23:23)
Amos 3:7 explains the ideal situation: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
If we were living in the day of Moses, we could ask him how literal we should take the creation account. If we were living in the days of Peter, we could ask him about how literally we should take his comparison of a day to a thousand year period. (2 Peter 3:8)
Fortunately, the Lord did not forever leave the modern world with the dilemma of not being able to consult a prophet to guide us as the scriptures of the past are interpreted for the current day. A great deal of restoration of the meaning of the creation story has already happened starting with the restoration of the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, and the Pearl of Great Price through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I actually didn’t realize that the full creation of the universe during the six days of creation was an option that anyone believed in. But, it is wonderful to see how modern revelation can help guide us through the logic to NOT apply the creation description of our world in Genesis to the entire universe, with the claim that the entire universe came into existence during the exact time of the creation of this earth.
In Moses chapter 1 in the Pearl of Great Price, the preface to the start of Genesis chapter 1, Moses is shown a vision that will result in the vision of the creation of the world. Right away, we can see that the scholarly theory of Genesis being oral traditions written down centuries later is refuted by this revelation.
Moses sees the “worlds without number” in this first vision and the Lord tells him “there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” The worlds are not synchronized to the same period of existence. The Lord emphasizes that these worlds exist “for my own purpose,” refuting the atheistic evolution “no purpose” view. (Moses 1:35, 33)
God then gives the famous verse about His work and purpose in His creations of these worlds without number. “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” )Moses 1:39)
Another crucial sentence is also in verse 35: “But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you.” In other words, decouple the creation explanation, including any time periods, that you are about to receive from these other worlds in the universe that are in various stages of their existence and as it were have their own calendar systems.
Other crucial verses about the creation come from the Book of Abraham. Instead of creating the universe and the earth out of nothing, the Lord tells Abraham: “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;” (Abraham 3:24)
In describing the third period of creation, the Lord adds: “And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the third time.” (Abraham 4:13) So, the length of time being tied tightly to the 24 hour day cycle of the finished earth is not a crucial logical rule.
This marvelous debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about teaching divine creation to our children is a good illustration of the need of modern prophets and apostles and the continuing process of revelation from God in all eras. As Nephi explained:
“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them.” (2 Nephi 29:9-11)
Picture of Christus reference:
“Oakland Temple and Visitors’ Center,” PrepareToServe.com.
 “And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God.
Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.
And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.
Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.
And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest-because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God-because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. (1 Nephi 13:24-29)
 Josh Feldman, “Bill Nye, Creationist Ken Ham square off in post-debate battle over evolution, global warming,” Mediaits.com, February 4, 2014.
 J. Scott Applewhite, AP, “here?’ with creationists Ken Ham,” Deseret News, February 4, 2014 during debate.
“TV’s “Science Guy” Bill Nye and the leader of a Kentucky museum who believes in creationism debated a question Tuesday that has nagged humankind: “How did we get here?”
“Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum, believes the Earth was created 6,000 years ago and that the Bible tells the factual account of the universe’s beginnings and the creation of humans. Nye said he, and the rest of the scientific community, believe the Earth was created by a big bang billions of years ago and people have evolved over time.
“‘I just want to remind us all there are billions of people in the world who are deeply religious, who get enriched by the wonderful sense of community by their religion,’ said Nye, who wore his trademark bow tie. But these same people do not embrace the extraordinary view that the Earth is somehow only 6,000 years old.”
Ken Ham, “Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?” 2007.
“Taking Genesis 1 in this way, at face value, without doubt it says that God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon and stars, plants and animals, and the first two people within six ordinary (approximately 24-hour) days. Being really honest, you would have to admit that you could never get the idea of millions of years from reading this passage. The majority of Christians (including many Christian leaders) in the Western world, however, do not insist that these days of creation were ordinary-length days, and many of them accept and teach, based on outside influences, that they must have been long periods of time-even millions or billions of years.”
 Ken Ham, “Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church,” 2013.
“Learn how allowing for and old universe of billions of years unlocks a door of compromise.”
“If God created everything in six days, as the Bible says, this surely reveals the power and wisdom of God in a profound way-the Creator of the universe did not need eons of time. Billions of years, on the other hand, diminishes God by suggesting that God needed huge amounts of time to create.”
“Actually, we can say with authority that the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, based on the six literal days of creation (which I assert were ordinary days…”
“Those who claim God used evolution to form life have no foundation-except that of God’s revelation which details how God created the universe, including life on earth in six literal days of creation approximately 6,000 years ago.”
 “Bishop Ussher Dates the World: 4004 BC,” Donald Simanek’s website,
“James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin was highly regarded in his day as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved the most durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 BC, by the arguments set forth in the passage below, Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 2348 BC `on a Wednesday’.”
– Craig, G. Y. and E. J. Jones. A Geological Miscellany. Princeton University Press, 1982
 John P. Pratt, “Religious Chronology summary,” 6 Feb 2014.
 “Fiddler on the Roof Script,” script-o-rama.
 Ethan Siegel, “How many galaxies are there in the universe? The redder we look, the more we see,” Discover Magazine online, October 10, 2012.
Note: the next illustration is also from this article.
“One of the bravest things that was ever done with the Hubble Space Telescope was to find a patch of sky with absolutely nothing in it-no bright stars, no nebulae, and no known galaxies-and observe it. Not just for a few minutes, or an hour, or even for a day. But orbit-after-orbit, for a huge amount of time, staring off into the nothingness of empty space, recording image after image of pure darkness.
“What would we find, out beyond the limits of what we could see? Something? Nothing? After a total of more than 11 days of observing this tiny area of the sky, this is what we found: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field-the deepest view ever of the Universe, was the result. With all those orbits spent observing what appears to be a blank patch of sky, what we were really doing was probing the far-distant Universe, seeing beyond what any human eye-even one aided by a telescope-could ever hope to see. It took literally hundreds of thousands of seconds of observations across four separate color filters to produce these results.”
“By extrapolating these results over the entire sky (which is some 10 million times larger), we were able to figure out-at minimum-that there were at least 100 billion galaxies in the entire Universe.
I even made a video about it.”
 “first cause,” Encyclopedia Britannica,
“first cause, in philosophy, the self-created being (i.e., God) to which every chain of causes must ultimately go back. The term was used by Greek thinkers and became an underlying assumption in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Many philosophers and theologians in this tradition have formulated an argument for the existence of God by claiming that the world that man observes with his senses must have been brought into being by God as the first cause. The classic Christian formulation of this argument came from the medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, who was influenced by the thought of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aquinas argued that the observable order of causation is not self-explanatory. It can only be accounted for by the existence of a first cause; this first cause, however, must not be considered simply as the first in a series of continuing causes, but rather as first cause in the sense of being the cause for the whole series of observable causes.”
James E. Talmage, “The Great Apostasy,” 2011, Project Guterberg EBook.
“About the middle of the third century, Sibellius, a presbyter or bishop of the church in Africa, strongly advocated the doctrine of “trinity in unity” as characterizing the Godhead. He claimed that the divine nature of Christ was no distinct nor personal attribute of the man Jesus, but merely a portion of the divine energy, an emanation from the Father, with which the Son was temporarily endowed; and that in like manner the Holy Ghost was a part of the divine Father. These views were as vigorously opposed by some as defended by others, and the disagreement was rife when Constantine so suddenly changed the status of the Church, and brought to its support the power of the state. Early in the fourth century the dispute assumed a threatening aspect in a bitter contention between Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and Arius, one of the subordinate officers of the same church. Alexander proclaimed that the Son was in all respects the equal of the Father, and also of the same substance or essence. Arius insisted that the Son had been created by the Father, and therefore could not be co-eternal with His divine Parent; that the Son was the agent through whom the will of the Father was executed, and that for this reason also the Son was inferior to the Father both in nature and dignity. In like manner the Holy Ghost was inferior to the other members of the Godhead.
“Arianism, as the doctrine came to be known, was preached with vigor and denounced with energy; and the dissension thus occasioned threatened to rend the Church to its foundation. At last the emperor, Constantine, was forced to intervene in an effort to establish peace among his contending churchmen. He summoned a council of church dignitaries which assembled in the year 325, and which is known from its place of session as the Council of Nice. This council condemned the doctrine of Arius, and pronounced sentence of banishment against its author. What was declared to be the orthodox doctrine of the universal or Catholic church respecting the Godhead was promulgated as follows:
“We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, the maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, (that is) of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light; Very God of Very God; begotten not made; of the same substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, that are in heaven and that are in earth: who for us men, and for our salvation, descended and was incarnate, and became man; suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into the heavens and will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit. But those who say there was a time when he [the Son] was not, and that he was not before he was begotten, and that he was made out of nothing, or affirm that he is of any other substance or essence, or that the Son of God was created, and mutable, or changeable, the Catholic Church doth pronounce accursed.’
This is the generally accepted version of the Nicene Creed as originally promulgated.”
 Look at the ordering of the creation days in the Book of Abraham and contrast it with Genesis and the Book of Moses. In Abraham the third day is the preparation of the earth for plants, followed by the discussion of the lights in the heavens being made to appear in day four, followed by the discussion of the placing of animal life upon the earth in day five. What is going on? The plants would need light to grow. Is this a spiritual creation discussion? Certainly this discussion of the lights in the heavens would not imply the universe’s creation out of nothing after the plants are created. (Abraham 4:12-19)
 “Lesson 21: 1 Nephi 20-22,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012.