Moving now to the biblical record of creation, many attempts to “fit” evolution into the Genesis record have led to the “gap” theory, the “day-age” theory, or other progressive creation theories. These efforts, in my opinion, are unnecessary exegetical and scientific gymnastics. Instead, we need to step back and recognize that Genesis chapter 1 does not give us an exhaustive record of God’s creation of the world. A common theme I was taught in my student days was, “Everything the Bible says about God is true, but when we know everything the Bible says about God, we still do not know everything about God.” It is an accepted theological principle that there is more to God than He has revealed.
Similarly, it is not much of a jump to conclude that there could be more to the creation story than God has chosen to reveal in Scripture. Therefore we do not need to shoehorn everything we have learned from science into an exact match with Genesis 1. Genesis is not a scientific textbook. Genesis is not a western style history book. Genesis is, at its core, a book of theology. Moses is describing some, but not all, of the attributes and acts of God the Creator. There is no reason to think that Moses is giving us a specific point-by-point, play-by-play creation account.
So if creation was progressive, how do these long time spans fit the order of Genesis chapter 1? How, for example, could the plants, created a “day” before the sun, survive if these “days” are millions of years? This illustrates the problem I am trying to highlight with tying evolution too tightly to the “days” of creation. I don’t think the order (sequentially speaking) is critical because we are not looking at Genesis chapter 1 as a detailed timeline. Is this somehow placing science above Scripture? May it never be! It is only saying, I believe there is room for interpretation in the creation picture that God has revealed.
So what can we be sure of? Based on Genesis 1, there are two extremely important points about God that we can know for sure:
- God created the world from nothing. How long God took to do it, God only knows, literally. Because God exists outside of space and time, a billion year process could seem like a blink of an eye to Him.
- God created man and woman in His own image. We carry within us some form of the very image of God, something that separates us distinctly from the rest of His creation.
Let’s be clear to teach these two indisputable truths to our children. God created the world from nothing. God created us in His image. On the specifics, let’s let the science take us wherever it leads. There is no reason to wring our hands about where it may take us. It will never change the two facts of Genesis chapter 1. In fact, the history of science and faith is replete with examples of scientific discovery initially perceived as a threat to faith that in the end only expanded our knowledge of and awe over this incredible universe that God has created.
5 thoughts on “Genesis Chapter One”
I look forward to these posts about religion and science Jay, they are worth the time and thought.
That last sentence hits the nail on the head. Great post.
I’m left wondering why Moses described creation as unfolding over six days.
Nancy, all of the Bible (and especially Genesis 1) is an example of divine accommodation. Insofar as there were no witnesses to the creation other than the triune God, everything recorded there is given in order to frame things in terms that mankind would understand, even if not intended literally. Keep watch for J. Miller’s book on the subject, due out within a few months. I’m with Jay — plenty of devout Christians (in the early ch, in the reformation, etc.) have assumed an old earth, but for a variety of reasons. And certainly it was not because they were influenced by evolutionary theory, which had not even reared its (ugly?) head at those times.
Having said that, I have no great affection for evolutionary theory. There are many major problems scientifically, such as what mechanism(s) drive such a process, and how exactly do/could they operate? Related theological issues constitute a whole other can of worms…
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