There are three dominant schools of thought within evangelical Christianity regarding the Genesis days of creation.
First, the popular twenty-four-hour view posits that God created the heavens and the earth in six sequential, literal days. A majority in this camp view the universe to be approximately six thousand years old and consider all death, including animal death, to be a direct function of Adam’s fall.
Furthermore, the day-age perspective suggests that God created the heavens and the earth in six long, sequential “days”—with each “day” totaling billions of years. In contrast to the twenty-four-hour perspective, the day-age view maintains that human and animal suffering and death are the result of God’s “very good” creation prior to Adam’s fall into a life of perpetual sin terminated by death.
Finally, the framework perspective holds that the seven days of creation are nonliteral and nonsequential but nonetheless historical. In concert with the day-age perspective, the framework perspective views animal death before the fall as consistent with the goodness of God’s creation, and believes that the age question is settled by natural revelation (the book of nature*) rather than by special revelation (the Bible).
In my view, the literary-framework interpretation most closely corresponds to reality—though I cannot abide animal death prior to the fall as consistent with a “very good” creation (see “Could Carnivores and Catastrophes Have Existed Prior to the Fall?” on page 27).
the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he
rested on the seventh day.
For further study, see The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation, ed. David G. Hagopian (Mission Viejo, CA: Crux Press, 2001).