Summary: An examination of the so-called "Biblical Creationist" doctrine in light of Genesis 1.
Many Christians believe the Bible teaches that the universe came into existence within the past few thousand years. On the other hand, many scientists believe that the earth is much older than this. A great number of people, who respect the Bible but also acknowledge the force of the scientific arguments, are caught in the middle.
Much has already been written about "Biblical creationism" and the scientific evidence for and against it. Here we look instead at the witness of the Bible itself concerning this issue. Our conclusion is that so-called "Biblical" creationism is not conclusively supported by the Bible itself. Creationism rests on a traditional mode of interpreting the Scriptures which is not well supported by the Scriptures themselves,
taken as a whole.
We affirm that the Scriptures are inspired by God, and comprise God’s personal mesage to humanity: and that His intentions expressed in Scripture are entirely consistent with the point of view which prevails among scientists.
Our argument is based on six propositions, which we will demonstrate from the Scriptures themselves. All Scriptural quotations are from the King James version (Sorry, NIV fans!).
Proposition 1: The first sentence of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" introduces the creation account in Genesis 1:2 -- 2:3, and does NOT refer to a separate event prior to Genesis 1:2.
(a) Genesis 2:1-4 says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and
sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God [created] and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were [created], in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens."
This Scripture indicates that the entirety of Genesis Chapter 1 is the account of the creation of the earth and the heavens. Genesis 1:1 is the introduction of this account, and not a reference to a prior creative act.
(b) Mark 10:6, "From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female."
This shows that ’the beginning of the creation’
(c) 1 Peter 3:4 " ... All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
Peter certainly means that things continue
unchanged since the creation was finished. Thus the entire creative process described in Genesis chapter 1 is referred to as ’the beginning of the creation’.
(d) There are other places in Genesis where similar introductory sentences appear. For instance, Genesis chapter 18 begins as follows:
"And the LORD appeared unto (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day..."
The Lord’s appearance is described in the remainder of the chapter, and is not a prior event. Similarly, the account of Abraham offering up Isaac in Genesis 22 begins as follows:
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. …"
Here also the temptation of Abraham is subsequent, not prior.
KEY POINT: The meaning of Genesis 1:1 is not: "In the beginning God first created the heaven and the earth. This earth which He created was without form and void." Rather the meaning is: "In the beginning God created the heaven and earth, as we shall now describe. When He began His creation, the earth was without form, and void..."
Proposition 2: The creation in Genesis 1 is not a creation "ex nihilo" (from nothing), but rather a creative forming from existing materials.
(a) Genesis 1:2 "And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep, ..."
God created the world starting from a ’formless and void’ earth, not from nothing.
(b) Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God [formed] man of the dust of the ground, ..."
Genesis 2:22 "and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman..."
Here we see that God created man from dust, not from nothing. God created woman from the man’s rib, not from nothing. In the same way, God created the heavens and the earth from a formless and void earth, not from nothingness.
(c) Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me".