Why is it so important to study Creation?
The study of creation gives us an explanation for where we came from, how we came into being, and why we believe in marriage. It tells us of the nature and character of God; it explains why there is suffering and death in the world, and much more. What happened in Genesis forms the foundation for the necessity of Christ’s death. I don’t believe the age of the earth should ever be divisive among Christians, and it is certainly not a sticking point for salvation; however, what we believe about creation has more ramifications on our worldview that most realize.
I’ve come in contact with four primary belief systems about creation among those who claim Christianity.
Literal Creationism– Six literal 24-hour days of creation. Earth is 6,000 to 12,000 years old, usually believed to be much closer to 6,000.
Gap Creationism– Six literal 24-hour days of creation, however, before the six days began, there was an indefinite amount of time that transpired between the first two verses of Genesis. In this time was the fall of Satan and the other angels he took with him. It may have been a minute, an hour, years, or even millions of years. Some view Verse 2 as the world being in a state of chaos as a formless void, which they attribute to the fall of Satan and his demons. I find that young-earth creationists, myself included, typically don’t have a huge problem with this view because the creation account of the universe and earth as we know it is still taken literally as written.
Progressive Creationism– Millions of years transpired between each ‘day’ of creation. New ‘kinds’ of plants and animals that appeared were a result of God’s divine intervention at different points in time, and only naturally evolved within their ‘kind.’ This eliminates the need to find any of those intermediary links which secular evolutionists are so desperate to find.
Theistic Evolution– The six days of Genesis represent six indefinite periods of time millions of years or geologic time periods. God’s role varies a bit depending on the adherent. God used and guided the evolutionary process, taking away only the factor of chance from Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory. (Theistic evolution is a bit of an oxymoron… it’s basically like saying “a God-directed undirected process”) Theistic evolutionists typically don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and if they do, Adam and Even are typically believed to be two apes that God chose to imbue with a soul (which they would consider being ‘made in His image’).
Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory, or Naturalism, taken as a whole, is not compatible with Christianity!
Dr. William Lane Craig is not only a world-renown philosopher, but also a personal friend and mentor. He has significantly influenced many tenets of my belief system, except in the case of creation. In one of his recent classes that I attended, he made a very important and insightful statement:
“So the same question about “Should we interpret Genesis 1 literally?” arises with respect to this flood narrative, as well. And the Tower of Babel narrative, as well. Are these to be understood as literal historical accounts? So the question begins to balloon up to a proportion that we’re not going to be able to deal with in this class. But you’re quite right in saying that it is all interconnected, I think. The same scientific challenge that exists to understanding Genesis 1 literally is going to exist with respect to understanding the universal flood literally, as well. That will be difficult.”
This shows us how careful we have to be when we decide to move away from a natural reading of the Genesis text, and also why it has the potential be quite dangerous. If we rid ourselves of a literal understanding of the creation account, we must also question everything else we know as well, especially about these first 11 chapters of Genesis. Once we start questioning God’s Word here, it can easily balloon into questioning the trustworthiness of Scripture, not only here, but in general. I’m not saying an old-earth view necessitates that, but that is the danger. On the one hand, we’ll say we don’t believe there was an actual talking serpent, but we do believe God’s prophecy about Jesus that he spoke to the serpent. We’ll say we don’t believe literally in the events described, but we do literally believe that God set up the foundations of marriage alongside these events, such as the instruction to marry someone of the opposite sex. Genesis 1-11 is not only the all-important account of the origin of things, but it is the foundation of all Christian doctrines and ethics.
Yes, most of Scripture is highly influenced by the perspectives, circumstances, and culture of the authors. However, the creation account is different. Most believe that this history was given to Moses on Mt Sinai by God Himself, not stories passed down through centuries of generations riddled with mythology. One of the reasons we believe in Moses’ authorship is because it’s clear Jesus believed Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. (Matthew Chapters 8 and 19, Mark 7 and 12, Luke 16 and 24, John 5 and 7) This is God’s Word and God’s history. Man wasn’t there for creation. Even if it wasn’t given on Mt. Sinai, the information about creation that man received MUST have been from God Himself. Otherwise, it is simply mythology made up by the Hebrews or someone that the Hebrews adapted it from, which has no basis whatsoever in Truth. Some claim that the parallels between the biblical account and that of other ancient traditions is evidence that the Bible drew on these accounts to create its own creation story. However, rather than the Bible drawing on false mythology, it’s far more likely that other ancient traditions and mythology are simply distortions of the Truth found in Scripture. Again, the only knowledge that anyone has, or can have, of creation is that which is given by God Himself. Therefore, whatever God told Moses about history, he would be using the terminology, such as the word ‘day’, in a way that Moses would understand it, and it would be accurate even if the ancients didn’t understand the scientific implications of it at the time. There is very good evidence that Moses understood God to be referring to six literal 24-hour days.
Remember also that any ancient stories or mythology that are set after humans existed, but pre-date the flood, would have been filtered through Noah and his family. This limits the spread of false mythology until after the Flood.
When one goes as far as to say that there was no literal Adam and Eve, I believe you have undermined the Gospel itself. See Romans 5:12-19. The historicity of Adam as an ancestor of both the Messiah and the rest of humankind lies at the heart of the Gospel.
As we are considering the tenability of literal creation days, we must compare it to the tenability of the Christian version of the evolutionary model. In some ways, it may be easy to find holes in the literal understanding and be critical of it; however, it’s much more difficult to defend the alternate views. Darwin’s original evolutionary model is inherently incompatible with Christianity, as by definition, it says we evolved by complete chance and are simply accidental byproducts of evolution. Darwin himself gave up his Christian faith believing that his doctrine of evolution directly expelled his Christian belief, saying Christianity was an unproved delusion. We, as Christians, of course believe that God created the world and that He created us special and in His image. This means that old-earth creationists have to pick and choose which parts of the evolutionary model they can fit with Christianity and Genesis and which parts they can’t manage to accept because it is incompatible. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but this is quite the task, as they are trying to marry the Bible with a belief system designed as an explicit substitute for Christianity. Personally, for every problem found in the literal interpretation, there are ten large problems with the alternate views. The primary old-earth version says that God created the universe, then waited around for several billion years, then stepped back in and supernaturally created humans, or chose a couple of random evolved apes and imbued them with a soul to start the human race. Then he made sure the rest of the evolving apes died out so that the homo sapiens species would start with only the two people he chose. As far as Eve being created from Adam’s rib, that notion is thrown out completely. Yes, there may be some difficult aspects of Genesis in regards to the literal interpretation, but it doesn’t come close to how far afield you must go to fit billions of years into the account we are given.
Let’s go through each day from a literal perspective:
- This first verse remarks on the essential elements necessary for the universe to exist. In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter).
- Heavens- “shamayin” Can be used to define (1) the entire creation constituting universe outside of earth OR (2) the atmosphere
Day 1 (2-5) (Light and Dark)
God created light and dark; Notice that ‘light’ came before the sun and stars. This shows the idea of light itself, its essence. God would be the source of this light. He is often seen as ‘light’ in visions, etc. 1st John 1:5 says “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” 1 Tim 6:16 teaches that God dwells in light which is unapproachable. Ps. 104:2 says God covers himself with a garment of light. James 1:17 says he’s the Father of Lights, Daniel 2:22 says “the light dwelleth with Him.” In fact, look at Rev. 21:23-24, which says that in the New Heavens and New Earth, there is no need for the sun or moon because the glory of God gives it light. Just as it was in the very beginning, so it will be at the end. So there certainly is no problem having light before the sun or stars, as God would be the originator and source of light.
You only need a rotating earth to achieve day/night, evening/morning. You don’t need the sun, or really even light. Alaska has periods of days without any daylight, yet the rotation of the earth still marks a day in Alaska.
Day 2 (6-8) (Atmosphere)
The Hebrew word, “raqiya” means ‘expanse’ or ‘firmament,’ and comes from this root word meaning “to spread out, stamp, beat firmly” suggesting a dome in other parts of the Bible.
In verse 8, “heaven” = ‘atmosphere,’ referring to verse 20.
Day 3 (9) (Land, Vegetation)
V. 9 → One ‘section’ of water was gathered into one place (like a ball of water, which was earth). Dry land appeared on this ball of water below the atmosphere. Notice that in Moses’ day, people only knew of the Mediterranean Sea, but under inspiration, Moses refers to the “seas” (plural).
In the first three days, God creates the spaces (three unique spaces- the sky, the seas, and the land). In the last three days, God fills those spaces.
Day 4 (14) (Sun, Moon, Stars)
- “Lights” here should be translated as “luminaries” or “light-bearers.”
- The reference to “stars also” differentiates them from the sun, even if made up of the same substance, implying creation as earth-centric.
- God already had decided the length of days and nights, seasons and years. The sun, moon, and stars were signs to mark times (day, night, season, year). By definition, a sign can only represent something that has already been established; a sign cannot establish the thing itself. This also helps us establish what is meant as the length of a ‘day’ in context because it’s used alongside ‘season’ and ‘year.’ At least in this verse, it wouldn’t make any sense for a day to represent millions of years.
Day 5 (20) (Flying Creatures, Sea Creatures)
Day 6 (24) (Land animals, Humans)
- This describes the creation of humans, made in the image of God, separate from the animals.
- “Let Us” refers to the Trinity, not polytheim, as indicated by the very next verse.
One of the objections to the literal interpretation is that the events of Day 6 could not have fit within 24 hours, however, it doesn’t seem like a problem upon closer examination of the text.
What are the events?
- (1) God created animals, (2) God created Adam, (3) God put Adam in the garden, (4) God had him name certain animals, (5) God created Eve.
- Naming the animals: First, he was not asked to name every animal and creature God created. He named the “cattle, the beasts of the field” (as opposed to ‘all the beasts of the earth’ which would have been a larger category), and “the birds of the air.” He didn’t name the sea creatures, or the creeping things (i.e. insects), etc. This would have reduced the number to be named. Second, we have no idea how many original “kinds” of animals there were. The animals would not have begun to adapt into various species at this point. For instance, you would not need domestic dogs, and coyotes, and wolves, etc, but just one ancestral kind containing the genetic information for all these to appear later under natural selection pressures. Third, remember that God created the perfect man. This was before the fall and before any degeneration of body and mind. Can you imagine Adam’s intellectual capacity having been made perfectly by the finger of God Himself! He was certainly capable of more than we would give him credit for, and would be able to complete his tasks quickly. How long would it take Adam to name the animals? With his mental capacity working at full power, it seems he could do this during a normal workday or less, with taking breaks. Remember, all the animals to name were brought to Adam.
- There’s no indication that there was a period of time between the naming of the animals and the recognition that there was not a helper or mate from Adam. In fact, he would have realized this after he finished naming the animals. Thus at that time, God caused the deep sleep to fall on Adam, took one of his ribs, and created woman. Adam and Eve then meet.
- Even if we cut the time in half, using only the 12 daylight hours, we can create a possible timeline:
|6:00–7:00||God creates land animals.|
|7:00–8:00||God creates Adam from dust.|
|8:00–9:00||God creates the garden and puts Adam in it.|
|9:00–4:00||Adam names the animals.|
|4:00–5:00||Adam sleeps, and God creates Eve from Adam’s rib.|
|5:00–6:00||Adam and Eve meet.|
Day 7 (Gen. 2:2)- God ‘rested’
- This simply puts a cap on creation, marking an end point, indicating that creation was complete (as opposed to evolution which says we are still evolving). There’s no reason this day would need the same structure, such as evening and morning. There’s some contention that this 7th day wasn’t 24 hours because we are still in a state of “God’s rest.” But no, the Scripture doesn’t say on Day 8, God also rested, and on Day 12, God was still resting. The point of Day 7 is to mark the end of creation, and establish the Sabbath. By extending Day 7 to include an indefinite amount of time, God would be ‘blessing’ and ‘sanctifying’ on the same ‘day’ that He cursed creation at the fall. Also, in John 5:17, Jesus said “My father has been working until now and I have been working,” thus God certainly wasn’t in a perpetual state of rest. Even if the seventh day could be extended metaphorically beyond that 24-hour period regarding God’s status, it still wouldn’t deny the literal aspect of it as well.
Calculating reliable human history and genealogies, we can get back to 4004 BC, though this does not necessarily mean this is the exact year of creation. Some genealogies may have skipped some generations. Generally, there was about 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, 2,000 from Abraham to Christ, and 2,000 from Christ to today.
Literary and Theological Reasons for Six 24-hour Days of Creation:
- This is the most natural reading of the text, and it’s consecutively numbered with evening and morning (The Jewish day was 6pm to 6pm, so God would have used ‘day’ in the context that Moses would have understood. Each day would naturally have an evening and then a morning. In fact, it would have made less sense to Moses if God had said morning and evening each day). Some say that, ‘a 24-hour period would be evening to evening’, but that would make even less sense for God to say ‘and there was evening and there was evening on the 2nd day’. A day would have consisted of the evening hours, and then the morning hours. The next day you start again with the evening hours and then the morning hours.
- Genesis was written as history. What I mean is that Hebrew uses special grammatical structures for historical narrative and Gen. 1-11 uses those structures, as opposed to that which was used in poetry or allegory. It uses consecutives (“vav”), and the verb forms have a structure that fit exactly what the Hebrews used for recording history or a past series of events. The first verb is a qatal (perfect) and the verbs that continue the narrative are wayyiqtols (imperfect). In Gen. 1, the first verb ‘bara’ which means ‘create’ is qatal and the subsequent verbs moving the narrative forward are wayyiqtols. We also have structural parallels we could use… look at Numbers 7:10, where each of the tribes of Israel brought an offering on a different day. (vs. 11, 12, 18, 24, 78). Same word “yom” used here. They are numbered sequences of days. Not only that, but the passage opens and closes with “in the day that” to refer collectively to all the ordinary days (NKJ, vs. 10 and 84). Much has been made that because Gen. 2:4 says “This is the account of the heavens and earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and heaven” that the previous days don’t refer to 24-hour periods because this reference refers to the whole week. But we have the same structure in Number 7! Here the phrase is used to refer to a set of specific 24-hour days. It’s a Hebrew idiom for ‘when.’
- Jesus and the apostles regarded Genesis as history, and Adam, Eve, and Noah as historical people. We referenced this a bit before, but Jesus Himself specifically talks about Adam and Eve, Abel, Noah and the Flood. He references each of the first 7 chapters. In fact, the whole New Testament seems to regard Gen. 1-11 as history, with over 100 references to those 11 chapters. Jesus’ genealogy goes back to Adam, the ‘son of God’, and there’s no hint that at some point, that history or those people changed from being metaphors to real people.
- Creation is finished. Gen. 2:1-3. This demands a definite period of time when creation was complete. Under the evolutionary theory, the process which started at the beginning of creation goes on today. The inhabitants of earth are continually evolving, just as we did millions of years ago. (Under progressive creationism, God was working and creating for billions of years until man was finally created, and then he was done and rested.)
- Hebrew word for day- “yom”: Yes, ‘yom’ has different meanings, but this is the only word that could have been used if they wanted to refer to a literal 24-hour period.
- “Yom” can mean (1) a 24-hour solar day, (2) an indefinite period of time (i.e. “day of the Lord”, “day of the Judges”) or (3) the daylight hours of a 24-hour period. It cannot mean a long period in a definite sense (i.e. a specific geologic time period)
- “Yom” is used 2291 times in Old Testament, almost always referring to a literal “day.” When plural (845) always means literal day. When modified by numerals (359) always literal day. When used with evening and morning (38), always a literal day.
- In Genesis 1:14-19, “day” is used 5 times in relation to days, nights, seasons, and years, which makes these verses incoherent if ‘day’ refers to anything other than a 24-hour period. Furthermore, it creates confusion if the definition of ‘day’ changes each time it is used in the same set of verses.
- When “day” is first used in Genesis, it cannot be symbolic, as a symbol can only be used once it first has a defined literal meaning (evening and morning).
- Adam was created on Day 6, and at the most natural reading of the text, lives through Day 7, and died at 930 years old.
- Objection with 2nd Peter 3:8:
- This verse uses a comparative article- “as” or “like,” which is not found in Genesis. The context is Christ’s Second Coming, and refers to the fact that God is not limited by time (even if He dwells within time). Long or short periods are nothing to God.
- The second part of the verse doesn’t mean we can equate a day with a thousand years, as the second part says the exact opposite.
- One can’t use the New Testament, written in Greek, to define a Hebrew word
- Exodus 20:8-11: One of the most convincing pieces of evidence for young-earth creationism is that Moses understood God to be talking about a literal six 24-hour days, even if there are other ways to understand it today. This is the finger of God Himself on tablets. (Exodus 20:1, And God spoke all these words…’) These are not the ideas of Moses or some other person. The 4th commandment instructs us to work a literal six days, and rest one day, because that’s what He did. The word “remember” in v. 8 always refers back to a real historical event. Real week = Real days of creation. Not millions of years or an indefinite period of time. Why did it take God six days to complete creation if He is omnipotent? To set a pattern for our work week!
- Romans 5:12: Death and suffering did not come into the world until after Adam and Eve’s sin, which brought with it death, disease, thorns, etc. Under all old-earth versions, there are eons of death and suffering, and the survival of the fittest, before man comes on the scene. Animals whimpering in pain and fear while their throats are torn out by predators. Fossils with with cancerous tumors preserved in them. Fossils of thorns. The fossil record is supposedly a 600-million year record of suffering and death in old-earth creation versions. And in this scenario, when man finally appears, he stands on top of a pile of bones miles deep and God says that everything is perfect, that it is “very good.”
- For your consideration: Why would God take so long to create humans if we are the whole point of creation itself? (This also explains all the supposed “empty space of the universe”)
- Evolution says Earth is 4.54 billion years old, and the universe is 13.75 billion years old. We have said that naturalism is incompatible with Christianity, and we need a literal Adam and Eve. Let’s consider the timeline for Christians who believe in an Old Earth. This means God spent billions of years on everything else and only a few thousand on human beings, His prize creation. If humans were created, or at least some apes were imbued with a soul, 12,000 years ago, this means God spent .000087% of his time on his prized creation of humans, who isn’t destined much longer for this earth in comparison. Under Dr. Craig’s A-Theory of time, which I agree with, God was in-time and waiting all those 13.75 billion years that the universe has been around just to get to humans, which under progressive creationism, He was going to step in to supernaturally create anyway! Jesus indicates otherwise in Mark 10:6 where he says “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female,” not at the end of billions of years. And in Luke 11:50, Jesus says that ever since the foundation of the world, prophets’ blood has been shed.
Simply making each day equal millions of years does not make Genesis compatible with typical evolutionary theory, or necessarily even with any old-earth version. Take for instance the order of creation. Old-earth creationism has the big bang, then the stars and sun, then the molten earth and then the oceans. Scripture has the water-covered earth, then the dry land, then the sun, moon, and stars. Theistic evolution has sea creatures evolving into land animals, which evolved into flying creatures. Scripture has the flying creatures created before the land animals. The order doesn’t fit when simply inserting millions of years. Under progressive creationism, the order may match Genesis, but then vegetation is planted millions of years before the sun existed to start the process of photosynthesis.
15 Billion yrs/ago
Water Covered Earth
Dry land and plants
Sun, Moon, Stars
Sea and Flying Creatures
Land Animals and Man
In Part 1, we have concentrated more on the literary and theological aspects of creationism, and only touched on the scientific. In Part 2, we’ll concentrate more on the scientific aspects of the young vs. old-earth, including Noah’s flood, the state of the earth, dinosaurs, and fossils.
Extra Notes on Mythology:
- New Age belief states that between Genesis Verse 1 and 2, there existed the lost continent of Atlantis, about 10 million years ago. Spirit beings lived there, and after the destruction of Atlantis, the spirits took up residence in Adam and Eve.
- Origin of Vampires: Lilith was a woman created before Eve. She refused to submit to Adam, so she fled from the Garden of Eden. Eve was then created. After expulsion from the Garden, Adam reunited for a time with Lilith before returning to Eve. Lilith bore Adam children, who are the demons of the Bible. After Adam left, Lilith became the Queen of Demons (or Queen of the Damned) and became the murderer of infants and young boys who she turned into vampires.
Continued in Creation, Part 2…