The Biblical Creation Account

November, 2003
Dan Reynolds PhD

Occasionally it's good to review what you believe and why you believe it. For those who adhere to a literal interpretation of Genesis and believe in a young earth, scripture is the first, final and unrivaled authority on the questions of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of man, and the age of the earth. Young Earth Creationists (sometimes referred to as "YECs") believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God to which the ever-changing theories of fallible man cannot hold a candle. We know that the observable facts of science are consistent with the YEC view even when the "facts" and theories of materialistic scientism are not.

There were no human eyewitnesses to the creation of the universe, the earth, and life. It is for this reason man on his own can never really know what happened. But there were eyewitnesses. The triune God was there and has communicated his observations to us via Moses in scripture. God's Word is as true as any observable fact of science. For this reason, one must take both the facts of scripture and science into account when considering origins. Scientific theories (e.g., macroevolution) which are not in agreement with the clear teachings of scripture are wrong by definition; science is always subordinate to scripture, never vice-versa, nor should they be given equal weight. When science and scripture seem at odds, scripture is given the benefit of the doubt; science usually catches up to scripture—eventually.

Image There are many biblical reasons to accept the YEC position and reject alternative views such as theistic evolution, the gap theory, the day-age theory, progressive creation, the framework hypothesis, etc. First, the order of the events during the creation week are completely inimical to any cosmological, geological, and/or biological evolutionary account. Second, the original language of Genesis clearly indicates that the creation of all things was accomplished in 6 literal 24 hour days. Third, physical death does not enter the scene until after the Fall, making biological evolution impossible. Fourth, the creation account is always treated as history by Bible authors, never as allegory. Fifth, observed scientific facts and well established natural laws are completely harmonious with the biblical account. The creation account explains the origin of information in living things and the precise tuning of physical laws that support life while naturalism can only offer uncertain and improbable speculation. The existence of the universe itself is explained by creation but is beyond the reach of science to explain.

The order of some the events during creation week and in the standard evolutionary scenario are contrasted in the table on the following page.

It is clear from these few examples that God did not create in a way that even remotely resembles modern evolutionary thinking. It may be that God created in this way so there could be no mistaking Genesis for an allegory to some naturalistic scenario. Making the creation days into vast time spans will not make the sequence problem go away. For example, how does the passage of millions of years between the emergence of plants (day 3) and the sun (day 4) help reconcile scripture with evolution?

The meaning of the word "day" in Genesis 1 is clearly a normal 24 hour period. Although the Hebrew word yom translated "day" throughout Genesis 1 can denote time spans longer than a literal day, the context of its use in Genesis 1 and comparison with other scripture leave little doubt of its intended meaning. For example, each day during the creation week (e.g., Gen 1:5) is described as having an evening and a morning (except day 7). When God separates light from the darkness (Gen 1:4-5), He calls the light "day" and the darkness "night." Does it make sense to call a time span of billions of years "light"? The meaning of yom in Genesis 1 is also made clear by reading Exodus 20:9-11:

Creation

Evolution
Earth created (day 1) before sun and stars (day 4)
(Gen 1:1,14-18)
Earth formed after stars
Earth initially covered with water (Gen 1:2) No oceans for 1st 0.8 Gyrs
Light before stars (Gen 1:3, 14-18) Light after stars
Ocean before atmosphere (Gen 1:2, 6; day 2) Atmosphere before ocean
Plants created (day 3) before sun (day 4) (Gen 1:11-18) Plants evolved later and after sun
Fish, sea mammals, and birds created simultaneously on
day 5 (Gen 1:20-23)
Fish evolved before birds; whales after land animals
Land animals and humans created simultaneously
(Gen 1: 24-28)
Animals evolved before humans
Only two people at start (Gen 2:21-24) Humans evolved as a population of individuals
God created universe fully formed in six days (Gen 1:31) Evolution of cosmos from big bang over billions of years
Death a result of Adam's sin (Gen 3:17-19, Rom 5:13-19) Death always present—key to natural selection and engine of evolution
Animals herbivores until after the Fall (Gen 1:29-30) Carnivorous animals evolved naturally
Original sin imparted to all of Adam's descendants
(Rom 5:13-19)
Adam not the first man since men would have evolved as a population of individuals
God created all life instantaneously and fully formed Life evolved over billions of years through a cruel "survival of the fittest" process.

 

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.(KJV)

 

Every occurrence of the word "day" in the above passage is yom in the original text. In the first part of the passage, God is clearly referring to six literal 24 hour days when instructing the people when to work and rest. God's rationale for this pattern is his own activity during creation week. The same comparison made between man's work week and God's creation week is echoed in Ex 31:15-17. Clearly, 24 hour days are in view in these passages. It is also significant that most commentators prior to the 19th century understood the days of Genesis 1 as 24 hour days; it was only after the rise of Darwinism and associated geological theories that people began to try to make scripture accommodate long ages.

Scripture clearly teaches (Rom 5:12-19) that the physical and spiritual death of men entered the picture after the Fall.1 Because of Adam's sin, the ground was cursed (Gen 3:17-18) resulting in poor crop yields and useless/harmful plant species, Eve's childbirth would be more painful (Gen 3:16), Adam would have to work hard to have food (Gen 3:19), Adam and Eve would eventually die (Gen 3:19), and the entire creation was cursed (Rom 8:20-22) and, as a result, is perishing (Heb 1:10-11). Although not explicitly stated, animals were also under the curse as evidenced the following facts: (1) God originally provided plants for the food of animals (Gen 1:29-30); (2) when Christ sets up His kingdom on the earth, the animals and man will dwell together without any prey/predator relationships (Is 11:6-9), even the lion will eat straw (Is 11:7). God considered the initial creation "very good" (Gen 1: 31) and yet will make a new heavens and earth at the end of history (Rev 21:1) which is devoid of death (Rev 21:4). If physical death of man and animals was a part of God's original plan, why would God call his original creation "very good" but then plan to remake the creation without death or carnivorous activity? Clearly, man's sin resulted in physical death being passed upon himself and the animal kingdom. And not only this, but apparently some animal species were modified/degraded from their original design by the Fall to become carnivorous, parasitical, poisonous, etc. Now since the physical death of man and animals was not in the world until after the Fall, the evolution of animals and man would have been impossible. Evolution involves the "survival of the fittest" as the selection mechanism which allegedly leads to macroevolution, but there can be no evolution where all survive. Also, why would an all loving omnipotent God use a cruel drawn out process to create man and the animals when He could simply speak them into existence? On the contrary, Christ came to destroy death (1 Cor 15:26-27, 54-55; 2 Tim 1:10; Rev 20:14, 21:4); death was never a part of the original plan nor is it consistent with God's character. Therefore, all theistic evolutionary scenarios are false. Another implication is that there would not have been the possibility of a fossil record prior to the Fall, making it clear that the fossil record was formed primarily as a result of the flood.

Some believe that the first few chapters of Genesis are written as poetry or allegory and therefore should not be taken as literal history. However, when reference is made to the creation account by various Bible authors, we find that the account is taken at face value. For example, an historical/literal understanding of Genesis is seen in the writings of David (Ps 8:3; 33:6-9; 104:19; 148:3-5), Peter (2 Pet 3:5), the author of Hebrews (Heb 1:10), Paul (I Cor 15:45-47), John (Jn 1:1-3; Rev 2:7, compare Gen 2:9), Matthew (quoting Christ in Matt 19:5), and Mark (Mk 10:7) to name a few. Indeed, if Adam was not the first literal man from whom all have descended but merely a symbol of men who fall to temptation, there are serious theological implications. If men evolved, they did so as a population of individuals so that Adam would not have been the first man but merely one of a group of individuals. Therefore, sin would not have been imputed to those who were not Adam's direct descendants meaning there would have been some who would not have been under the curse or in need of Christ as a savior. But this idea clearly contradicts the clear teaching of scripture that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23, 5:12) and that Adam was the first man and the father of us all. So, we see that the creation account should be understood as history, nothing less.

The facts of science and well established natural laws are consistent with the Genesis creation account. Science has no answer for where the universe came from seeing it is of a finite age. There is simply no scientific principle which can explain the origin of something from nothing. Indeed, the First Law of Thermodynamics forbids this. However, we know from scripture that God did just that: He created (Hebrew bara) the universe by the word of his mouth from nothing (ex nihilo). There is no natural explanation for the fact that the four fundamental forces of nature (gravity, the strong force, the weak force, and electromagnetism) are exactly what they must be within narrow tolerances for life to exist on Earth. Nor is there any evidence that chance and natural processes can create the complex specified information (CSI) found in living things. Indeed the Law of Conservation of Information constrains the creation of CSI to intelligent agencies. Explanations such as the Anthropic Principle, parallel universes, quantum foam, and a multiverse are either non-explanations or highly speculative at best. The spontaneous generation of life and macroevolution have never been observed, despite them both being proclaimed as undisputed "fact." The universe smacks of design everywhere we look and naturalism's impotence to explain these phenomena is just as pervasive. Documented rapid geologic processes such as canyon formation, coal formation, stalactite and stalagmite formation, sedimentary layer formation, accelerated radioactive decay, and others are completely consistent with a recent creation and the Flood catastrophe in Genesis.

In conclusion, the weight of the biblical and scientific evidence clearly support the literal young earth creation view. God has set things up so that we must trust in Him; He has left some things mysterious and unanswered (Eccl 3:11, 8:17). Our confidence should be in God's Word through faith (Heb 11:1-3) and not in the wisdom and philosophies of the world (Rom 1:19-25; Col 2:8; Eph 4:17-20; Prov 3:5-7; 26:12; 28:26; Psalm 14:1; 1 Cor 1:19-31). Ô

 


1The life of plants is considered different from the life of animals in scripture. This can be seen in God's rejection of Cain's sacrifice (Gen 4:3,5) and the requirement of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins (Matt 26:28; Heb 9:22). Plants were created to provide food for man and animals (Gen 1:29-30) so that their "death" was always a part of God's original intentions for his creation.