Fundamentalists all consider Genesis an accurate account of how God created the universe in six days, a process that culminated in forming Adam out of the dust, then fashioning Eve from one of Adam's ribs. (Can you think of a myth more insulting to women than one explaining how Eve was created as a "helpmeet" by putting Adam to sleep and then fabricating her from one of her husband's minor bones?) Fundamentalists differ, however, over many details of the Genesis account, especially over whether its "days" were 24 hours or whether they were long patches of time.
The "young earthers" argue that the entire universe was created in six literal days about ten thousand years ago and that fossils are records of life destroyed by the great Deluge. Because light is coming to us from stars that are millions of light-years away, young-earthers must assume that God created light waves "on the way" from stars and galaxies that did not exist when the light was created.
It is amusing to note that this difficulty about light is similar to difficulties about traces of the past histories of plants and animals. Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? For centuries there were furious debates among Bible scholars over this weighty question, as well as over hundreds of other features of living things that imply a nonexistent past: rings of trees, chambers of the nautilus, laminae on a turtle's carapace, tusks of elephants, human hair, teeth, fingernails, and so on. It was evident that, if God created the universe in six literal days, he had to create plants and animals "on the way" from a past they never had.
British zoologist Philip Gosse, father of the writer Edmund Gosse, had a bizarre inspiration. Why not extend this "on the way" notion to the fossil record? Just as God created light on the way from nonexistent stars, so he created an ongoing universe with records of prehistoric life that never existed. Gosse wrote a marvelous book about this called Omphalos, the Greek word for navel. "It may be objected," he argued, "that to assume the world to have been created with fossil skeletons in its crust--skeletons of animals that never really existed--is to charge the Creator with forming