There are many reasons within Scripture to take Genesis 1 as something other than historical narrative. I do not believe that it is necessary to take it as literal history in order to value it or claim it is true. All Scripture, whether Genesis, Psalms, Acts or Revelation, is inspired by God and useful for equipping God's followers for every good work. God chose to inspire parables, proverbs and songs as well as history. In order to take any portion of Scripture seriously, one needs to understand what kind of writing it is. Here are some of the reasons why I feel Genesis 1 is not intended to be a historical record. By that, I mean that while it recounts a true event (the creation of "the heavens and the earth"), it does so in a form that is not a blow-by-blow account of what a witness would have physically seen. 1. If it is a historical narrative and Genesis 2:4-25 is also a historical narrative, they do not fit together easily. It is possible to make them fit by adding a lot of details not specified in the text, but the plain reading of both contradicts. The first account starts with primordial waters overwhelming an earth that is "formless and void" (Gen. 1:1-2) while the second starts with primordial ground in need of rain (Gen. 2:4-5). The first puts man's creation at the end while the second has man created first before the plants have grown or animals have been formed (unless you read it from the NIV, which tries to smooth over the difference with the animals; this is clearer in more word-for-word translations such as the NASB, KJV, NKJV or ESV). In the first God tells the humans to rule over the other creatures and subdue the earth; in the second man is placed in the garden to "work it and take care of it". The first portrays God creating mainly by speaking; the second has God forming Adam from dust and breathing life into him. Similarly, the first portrays God (Elohim, the Hebrew generic name for God) as above his creation while in the second God (Yahweh, the Hebrew personal name for God) walks in the garden with Adam and Eve. Some Christians say that Genesis 1 describes the creation of plants and animals in general while Genesis 2 only describes the plants and animals in Eden. Others think Genesis 1 describes the creation of all plants and animals, but they didn't sprout or grow until after man was formed in Genesis 2. Others think Genesis 2 constantly jumps around chronologically as it describes various events. Others, like me, take the plain reading of the text and its different order when compared with Genesis 2 as an indication that one or the other -- or both -- of the accounts is not intended to be historical. 2. Days 1 and 4 describe the same one-time event. The separation of light (called day) from darkness (called night) is first recorded in vv.4-5, and then is recapitulated in vv.14,18. Both days specifically mention the separation of day from night, light from darkness. This separation could only have occurred once, unless one wants to speculate that it somehow didn't "stick" the first time and had to be redone three days later. But if this event only happened once, why is it recorded on two separate days? It's a strong clue that the days of Genesis 1 are not intended to give chronological, historical information. 3. The New Testament interprets the seventh day as longer than 24 hours. In verses 4-5, the author goes directly from quoting Genesis 2:2 to quoting Psalm 95:11 which talks about God's rest. The implication is that God's rest after creation is the same rest we can enter (if we don't fall short of it). Also, note the last part of verse 3 which I bolded above: God's work has been finished since the creation of the world. In other words, even if one believes the world is only 6,000 years old, that means God's rest has been going on for 6,000 years now! When Exodus 20:11 explains the Sabbath command by saying "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day", we know from this passage in Hebrews 4 that "he rested on the seventh day" refers to a rest of at least 6,000 years (and in my view, a much longer time). The symbol of God's rest is a day (the Sabbath) but the reality is much more. In another sense the reality is also less, since God does not rest by ceasing all activity. Both the idea of God physically resting and the duration of his rest are symbolic ways to get across a deeper truth. 4. The framework of days serves another purpose aside from historical record. As mentioned above, it also sets the framework for the Hebrew work week and Sabbath. This answers the question of what purpose the creation days would serve if they are not historical. It also answers why God is described as resting on the Sabbath day -- even as being "refreshed" according to Exodus 31:17. God's creation and rest are described in a framework of days that model how humans are to work and rest. 5. It reads unlike any historical record in the Bible. As far as I know, there is no historical record in the Bible that is neatly divided into days with a repeated refrain after each day (such as "and there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day"). Even the crucial events of Jesus' death and resurrection are not recounted this way. Even Genesis 2:4 and on do not read as poetic and structured as Genesis 1. It has more in common with some of the psalms than with strictly historical books like Acts. 6. The days contain an obvious literary structure. The structure is that the first three days correspond to the second set of three days. Light (day 1) matches with luminaries (day 4). The firmament dividing the waters is formed (day 2) and then filled with fish and birds (day 5). Dry land arises and is covered with vegetation (day 3) and this land is filled with land animals and humans (day 6). The symmetry of this structure breaks down if other things are added that were also created by God, such as bacteria, seaweed, other planets and moons, hell, angels, and the abode of the angels. The symmetry is only present based on the select items the author chose to include. If the symmetry was present when absolutely everything was included, then it would be plausible to say that God actually created this way. But why would God create in a way that only has symmetry when certain items are left out? It seems obvious that the symmetry is there because of the way the author divided creation into days, and not because of following a historical order. There are other descriptions of creation in the Bible that leave out the framework of days, such as Psalm 104. A speech attributed to God himself describes creation in Job 38. Proverbs 8:22-29 gives another brief account of creation. What all creation accounts in the Bible have in common is that they use evocative, non-literal language. That seems to be God's chosen method in revealing details that are beyond our present understanding, whether it's a description of creation, heaven, or the nature of God himself. 7. It is completely compatible with the science of its time. Nowhere in the account does God reveal a physical detail that wasn't already known. The account doesn't, for instance, reveal how insignificant the size of the earth is compared to the stars. It doesn't reveal that the earth moves around the sun. While the account does not teach a flat earth, its imagery is completely compatible with a flat earth. In particular, the idea of a firmament (something solid) to hold back the waters above is consistent with ancient Mesopotamian cosmology. If the purpose of Genesis 1 was to reveal the actual history and science of our world's beginning, it is incredible that details like these were overlooked. On the other hand, if the purpose was to reveal that God and God alone made everything other than God that exists, then Genesis 1 would be a powerful way to describe that. Rather than revealing the mysteries of nature, it uses terminology that the first audience would understand and we can still understand today. And, of course, we are made in God's image with a mandate to tend and subdue the rest of creation. That mandate implies that we are to learn about creation, just as a king needs to learn about his kingdom before he can rule it properly. Genesis 1 is not written in a form that historically answers the "how" and "when" questions about creation. They are among the many questions God has allowed us to explore on our own with the abilities he's given us.