Back to Basics: Genesis 1

Our goal is to equip believers with the knowledge they need to have confidence in Scripture and to counter the arguments of modern humanism and evolution.  In this article, we are going to focus on the basics of Biblical creation.  This week, we will review Genesis chapter one, and in the following weeks we will look at chapter two, other passages in the Old and New Testament relating to creation, and how an incorrect view of creation can keep us from an accurate understanding of Biblical doctrine.

In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.

— Genesis 1:1

One of the key points to note about the beginning of Genesis, and by extension the Bible, is that God is never explained.  The Bible does not try and provide evidence for God’s existence or to convince people that He exist.  The book begins with “in the beginning God.”  As Paul writes in Romans 1, everyone has an innate knowledge of God that is also confirmed by what is seen in creation but that many will “hold the truth in unrighteousness.”  “Hold” here means hinder, or suppress, and that is exactly what unbelievers are doing, they are suppressing their innate knowledge of God’s existence in an attempt to get out from under His authority. It is very important to remember that all people know that the God of the Bible is real and true.

As we continue to look at verse one we can see that God is eternal, having no beginning or end. He created time when He created space (heaven) and matter (earth) in verse one.  This is important to note as time, space, and matter must all come into existence at the same time and that God is not bound by the rules that constrain them.  This can be difficult to understand because our lives on earth are bound by order God has set in place to govern time/space/matter.

The rest of chapter one is detailing God’s day-by-day creation of everything with the creation of light on day one, the firmament on day two, dry land and plants on day three, lights in the firmament of heaven on day four, sea life and fowl on day five, and culminating with land animals and man on day six.  There are a couple points of interest here that we will look at as we move through the different days.

In day one we see God create heaven and earth and that, at first, all was dark and the earth was covered in water.  In verse three we have Him bringing light into existence and then in the next two verses He sees that the light is good and then divides light, which He called day, from darkness, that He called night.  Verse five ends with “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”  This phrase is clearly showing us that this is the same twenty-four-hour day that we have now and isn’t alluding to any great periods of time as some who try to mesh the Bible with the false belief of evolution.

Day two starts in verse six with God making a firmament to divide the waters that were under it from the waters that were above it.  Something important to realize when reading this passage is that the word “made” is different in meaning from the word “created,” with made meaning appointed or ordered.  The firmament wasn’t created from nothing but was appointed by God to separate the waters.  In verse eight we see the firmament is named heaven but this is not the heaven that is the abode of God but, as we see in verses 14 – 15 and 20, this is totality of our atmosphere plus space.  This concludes day two.

In verse nine we have God speaking the waters under the heaven to gather together into one place so that there would be dry land.  This lets us know that prior to the Flood, there was one large body of water, called seas, surrounded by dry land, called earth.  God then commands the earth to bring forth grass, herb yielding seeds, and fruit trees.  Again, note that this is not “poof” and they are there but that they literally spring forth from the ground rapidly enough that God was able to look at the trees bearing fruit before they day was out and see that there were good.  At the close of day three we have plants with light but no sun, moon, or stars for those come on the next day.

On day four we have God creating the sun, moon, and stars.  God gives us the reason behind creating these celestial bodies in verse fourteen, “to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:  and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth.”  This is another instance where God is not creating these lights but rather appointing them as seen in verse sixteen.  The words light used in this verse is not referring to the actual light that we see but is more of a title for the sun and moon.  This is easy to discern as we know the moon does not create light but reflects light from the sun.  Almost as a side note, “He made the stars also.”  With the first setting of the sun we have the end of the fourth day.

As day five opens in verse twenty we have the first creation of life on earth.  God commands the waters to bring forth “abundantly” sea life and fowl.  This verse, along with placement of the lights from the last day, show us that the firmament refers to our atmosphere (where the fowl’s fly) and space (where the sun, moon, and stars are).  We see that these animals were brought forth after their kind.  It is important to remember that the animal classifications of species, genus’s, etc. are affectations of man and, as such, will be imperfect.  Was every sea creature and flying creature we have today brought into existence on day five?  No, most assuredly not, but every kind was and within the genetics of those kinds was the programming to produce the variety that we have presently.  Day five ends with God blessing these creatures and commanding them to be fruitful and multiply.

Day six picks up in verse twenty-four with God commanding the earth to bring forth cattle, creeping things, and beast of the earth.  Just as with the prior day this is not every breed of land animal but every kind with the genetic information to produce every species of land animal. 

Verse twenty-six continues day six with a very unusual occurrence.  God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”  The “us” here refers not only to God and the Holy Spirit (Spirit of God, verse 2) but also to Jesus as we know from John 1:1.  They, together, have decided to make man and to give him a purpose, as we see in the continuation of the verse, to have dominion over sea life, fowl, cattle, the earth, and everything that creepeth upon the earth.  In verse twenty-seven we have God creating both male and female, which we will take a more in-depth look at in our next article on Genesis chapter two.

Verse twenty-eight sees God blessing mankind, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth which here doesn’t mean to refill but to fill from emptiness.  They are also commanded to subdue the earth and to have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  Verses twenty-nine and thirty shows us that God’s initially created all living creatures to eat fruits and vegetables which God later countermands in Genesis 9:3 but for the first several hundred years all life subsisted on plant matter.

Chapter one concludes with God looking over all he had made and “it was very good.”  Next week we will go through chapter two and a more in-depth look at the creation of Adam and Eve.  We will also see that the events of chapter two are about the garden of Eden and not about creation week.  This is an important distinction as some people who oppose the Bible will try and say that chapter one and two contradict each other.

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Dr. Jason Lisle’s Presentation in Winter Park

On Sunday, August 28th, we had the great opportunity to see two presentations from Dr. Jason Lisle, astrophysicist and Director of Research at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).  His morning presentation was titled “Origins Matter” and provided a cursory look at the importance of creation and Genesis.  This evening he spoke on how “Astronomy Reveals Creation” focusing on how the beauty and size of the universe declare God’s glory and how the Bible is scientifically accurate.

“Origins Matter” was like an intro course to apologetics that showcased the importance of Genesis to fundamental Christian doctrine.  Dr. Lisle pointed out that it seems that our country, which was founded on Biblical principles, continues to move away from God in spite of having the greatest access to Christian resources.  He then shows that much of our move away from Scripture has been due to the waning understanding and faith in the book of Genesis.  One of the major influences in causing people to doubt the book of Genesis is evolution.  Evolution is taught as scientific truth but has no scientific evidence for it and much evidence that contradicts it.  However, it is taught in public schools beginning even in kindergarten.  Unfortunately, many Christians do not understand the importance of literal six day creation and have done poorly to refute evolution.  Some Christians have gone so far to try and work millions of years and evolution into the Bible.  By casting doubt on the book of Genesis they are weakening the doctrines that come from this book such as, the authority of God, six day creation, the value of human life, marriage, the origination of sin and death, and the means of redemption from sin.  As you can see, these are some major and important doctrines that are undermined.  Dr. Lisle did a great job refuting some of the more common attempts to work old universe into the Bible, especially focusing on the specific language used in the Genesis account of creation.  He specifically pointed out that anytime the Hebrew word ‘yom,’ or day, is used in conjunction with a number (first, second, third, etc.) or with any combination of morning and evening it is always referring to a literal twenty-four hour day.  In Genesis, chapter one, it is evening, morning, first day, evening, morning, second day, and so forth.  The wording specifically indicates a literal six day creation. 

The evening presentation focused on astronomy and how it reveals creation.  One of the key items he points out is how the Bible accurately depicted scientific facts that at the time it was recorded would have been contrary to contemporary belief.  Pythagoras (6th century BC) is commonly accredited with putting forward the belief that the earth is round and Aristotle (384-322 BC) is believed to be the first to prove it but the books of Job (approx. 2000 BC) and Isaiah (approx. 700 BC) depict the earth as spherical.  Dr. Lisle also covered notable phenomena that indicate a young universe.  In a spiral galaxy, like the one above, the design is caused by the fact that the stars closer to the center are moving faster than the stars on the outer edge.  If billions of years had really transpired the design would be far more twisted and would not look spiral.  Another good indicator is that Jupiter emits twice as much energy as it receives and if it were truly billions of years old it shouldn’t emit any energy at all.  Same with Neptune which is much smaller than Jupiter but emits nearly three times as much energy as it receives. 

Both presentations were well thought out and Dr. Lisle did an excellent job in articulating his argument.  He is very knowledgeable and was able to give his material in an informative, but not stiff, manner even with a little humor.  We look forward to being able to see a presentation from him again.

Was It Really Six Days?

Genesis 1:5 reads, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”  This proceeds through the rest of the chapter periodically telling us what God created and also informing us of when a new day occurred.  At the end of the chapter, in verse 31, the Bible states, “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”  This is pretty clear language although it becomes a little more muddled if you rely on a version other than the King James Version (KJV).  This was accepted belief for thousands of years so what caused this sudden questioning of long held belief?

People, seeking a way to deny the Creator, once again started to put forward ideas that the earth was far older than was Biblically accurate.  Chief of these was Charles Lyell, a British lawyer, who wrote a book called Principles of Geology.  In it, Lyell popularizes uniformitarianism (the belief that earth was shaped by the same processes still in effect today) and that the earth was over 300 million years old.  He was also instrumental in the development of the different era’s of time (paleozoic, mesozoic, etc.) and their supposed application to rock strata.  Lyell’s book is one that Charles Darwin read and used on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle.

Lyell’s first three volumes of Principles of Geography were published in 1830-1833.  This was long before radioisotope dating, yet he was somehow able to determine that the earth was hundreds of millions of years old.  There is no way possible that he could identify the age of the earth simply by looking at geographical strata.

Unfortunately, people within the churches started to be concerned about this new ‘revelation’ concerning the age of the earth.  Instead of trusting the Bible and looking more into what these people were saying, they began to scrabble for theories that would somehow mesh the the Bible and old-earth together.  Two of the major thoughts put forward were the Gap theory and the Day-Age theory.  These lines of thought are still around today and are held by many claiming to be followers of Christ.

The Gap theory was popularized by Thomas Chalmers, a Scottish minister and founder of the free Church of Scotland.  The theory posits that the days in Genesis are six literal twenty-four hour periods but that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  People that follow this tenet believe that during this gap is when God created all the organisms found in fossil record but at some point in time (possibly related to the fall of Lucifer) they were all killed off.  It is after this time, that lasted for billions of years, that Genesis 1:2 picks up. 

The Day-Age theory is the belief that the days mentioned in Genesis are merely references for ‘a period of time.’  The prominent scripture bandied about for this 2 Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  The problem with that scripture is that ‘as’ in this context is a simile.  This verse was given to Christians who were eager to know when the Lord would return.  This was Peter’s admonition to remember that God keeps His promises but does not follow our time table.

Just as “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9), these corruptions of the Bible lead to severe ignorance of doctrine and belief in the inerrancy of the Word of God.  Genesis 1 repeats that “evening and morning” were one day.  The word used is Yom which, in context, refers to a literal twenty-four hour period.  The Hebrew scholars never doubted the use of the word as a literal day, why should people who didn’t even speak the language decide to question it thousands of years later?  Exodus 20:11 tells us, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” there is no room, or need, for a gap.

Linguistic issues aside, there arises far greater consequences when someone tries to adopt these beliefs.  Romans 5:12 shows us that Adam brought sin into the world and that sin brought death.  If you say that there was death before Adam you are clearly calling God a liar.  In Matthew 19:4, Jesus says, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.”  If you say that there was billions of years before there were humans you are also calling God a liar.  The only reason to try and force an obviously convoluted interpretation (in the case of day age) or write a Sci-Fi novel (who gets to make up what happened in that Gap?) is to try and force the Bible to agree with faulty science propagated on lies of men determined to deny God.  Let’s read the passage Peter wrote:

2 Peter 3:3-10

3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.