Just before the 6 creation days in Genesis 1, the earth is described as ‘tohu va vohu’ (formless and void; or wild and waste; or chaotic and empty). Â It has no shape (un-formed) and has no stuff (un-filled).
The 6 days of creation (the ‘hexameron’) divide into 2 sets. Â The first set of 3 days is a ‘forming’ set, and the second set of 3 days is a ‘filling’ set. Â What was un-formed is formed, and what was un-filled is filled.
If God had needed to, I’ve no problem believing that a God with a different kind of power than anything we’ve seen in our universe could have created in six 24-hour literal days – or in a single moment. Â Heck, if God really had wanted to trick us, he could have even created all things 5 minutes ago, and given us all memories. Â I’m personally persuaded that the universe is very, very old, and that human beings arriveÂ very, very late on the scene (heck, even in a literal 6-day understanding, they come last). Â I see this as both poetic and patient of God.
But what the author(s) of this ancient creation poem are saying with the wording and structure of Genesis 1 has to do not with ‘how long it literally took God to create’, butÂ with a God who forms what was formless (order out of chaos), and who fills what was unfilled. Â ((Oh yeah, and a) that all the created things (worshipped by surrounding cultures) are not gods, b) that all the created things are ‘good’, and c) that humans have a unique role in the creation; but that’s another post.))