Our first reading describes God creating the world in six days (then resting on the seventh.) Most of us grew up hearing that to be good people we had to believe it happened that way. Now we are troubled by scholars who say the six day account is not factual. We fear that we might be sinning by going along with them.
It won’t be sinful for us to go along with the scholars. The truth is on their side, and since God is truth, by going along with the scholars we are going along with God.
The scholars tell us that our first chapter of Genesis dates back to 560 b.c. At that time the Jews were captives in Babylon, and every year they were freed from their hard labors to share in the Babylonian New Years. It was a holiday when they celebrated the creation of the world. Every day for two weeks Babylon’s priests read aloud from their creation myth which was called the Enuma Elish.
Now the Enuma Elish said that there were two creators, one good and one evil, but the Jews knew that was not so. They began composing their own creation story. In it there was only one creator, and everything he made was good.
Not knowing any better, the Jews kept some of the mistaken things in the Enuma Elish. For instance, they kept the part about the sky being a hard dome with God hanging the stars from it.
The Enuma Elish had their gods creating the universe in eight day. The Jewish priests, wanting to use God as their model for resting on the Sabbath, squeezed eight days work into six days. They did that by saying that God worked double shifts on the third and sixth days, leaving Saturday free for him to rest.