Hi Nathan. An age old question we will probably never know the true answer to until we are face to face with God. Even then, He may not tell us. But it’s fun speculating.
I am not a scientist, by any stretch of the imagination. However, just this afternoon, I happened to look closely at the creation sequence. I’m sure I’m not the first to see this, but it was a revelation to me today. Scientists might think I’m all wet, but this is what I saw.
First, I should premise my biblical revelation with what John Lennox has to say about the concept of “day”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FmO2XKMe6g
In Hebrew, there were four different meanings for the same word, “day”. He gives one example of our saying, “Back in my day…” . Or “in the day of (let’s say, dinosaurs)…”. So, “day” can mean more than a 24 hour period.
Using that concept, I think “day” refers to a segment of time that God took to create each stage of progression in forming the earth.
While scientists use a method such as Francisco @Francisco_Delgado has demonstrated, I believe Creationists use a 24 hour day as their biblical basis. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong).
As to what I discovered today (breaking it down to its simplest sequence), I found that God first separated light from dark = “day” one. The next segment of time (second “day”) was used to separate the water vapors on earth and in the heavens, or the firmament. Next, God created and divided the land masses from the seas, as well as forming vegetation (3rd “day”).
*However, if you look closely at the 4th “day”, He created the stars for signs and SEASONS. He also created the sun to rule the light and the moon to rule the darkness.
This is where my revelation starts: I believe that this 4th “day” established our calendar in this way: Seasons require months. Months require weeks. Reducing it further, weeks require days; days require hours, hours require minutes, minutes require seconds. So, I believe God created the 24 hour day, with the sun and moon to govern it, on the 4th “day”.
But that is not all I saw. After creating the 24 hour day, God then created animals first and started the progression of each to its kind on the 5th “day”–not using 24 hours to define “day”, but each 24 hours was part of the 5th “day”. (I hope that is clear.) Finally, He then created Man on 6th “day” made up of 24 hour days. I believe God set in motion the 24 hour day in order to give the animals and man time for sleep and time for wakefulness. Bear in mind that God remembers our frame…that we are dust. (Ps.103:14). We do not have the supernatural abilities of God to always be awake. Man was created last because he was to have dominion over all creation and to care for it. God ceased on the 7th “day”, giving man the model and command to cease from their labors on the 7th day of the week, expressly to worship Him. It’s a Holy cessation.
While vegetation does require rest periods, they are more seasonal, which is another reason I think God created the seasons after creating vegetation.
So, if we put all this together, I think both scientists and creationists are complimentary. Science is right in that the earth is billions of years old because God created in segments of time, not in 24 hour periods. But, if we realize that the fourth “day” established the 24 hour day, then time can be counted on the basis of man’s existence from the biblical 6th day, which shortens the dating. Of course, we don’t know how long Adam and Eve lived on the earth before the Fall. If Creationists count backwards to the Fall and all that took place afterwards using 24 hour timing, then the timing may closer approximate their 6000 year age of the earth.
We should also remember that Scripture refers to a day being as a 1000 years in God’s mind (2 Pet.3:8). So, taken literally, six days of creation would be 6000 years.
So, this is what I saw. Maybe it helped you to think through this ongoing debate in a different way. On the other hand, I may be leaving myself open for correction. Only God really knows