Your TASC board of directors has been reading through Jonathan Sarfati's The Genesis Account: A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11.1
We have just finished chapters 11-12 which cover all of Genesis 2. This article was inspired by those chapters.
Genesis 2:1-3 (ESV):
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
God had completed his creative work by day 7 of creation week. The processes He used to create during the first six days were different from those He now uses to sustain and uphold the universe (Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:1-12). God resting on the seventh day was obviously not from tiredness but reflected the completeness of His creative acts (Heb 4:10); He ceased (rested) from His creative activities. Ex 31:17 says God was refreshed on the seventh day, akin to our satisfaction after completion of a significant task.
God created ex nihilo through speech acts (“God said...and it was so”) during the first six days. We don’t know what type of “physics” God used to create the universe. All we know is that He is not creating in that way now. People that insist on naturalism hence make an error when they assume that the physical processes we can observe now (God’s “maintenance phase” of creation) must be able to account for the origin of everything in the universe. The current universe is consistent with the known laws of physics but not reducible to them. The fact that the universe had a beginning, that physical law is fine-tuned for our existence, and that the information found in biology is inexplicable by chemistry alone can only mean that the universe was purposely designed and is no accident.
Since God was finished creating by day 7, we would expect the mass-energy sum of the universe to remain unchanged: God is not creating more mass-energy, and His upholding the universe prevents any mass-energy from being destroyed. The First Law of Thermodynamics (FLOT) says that matter-energy can’t be created or destroyed but only converted from one form into another. This is a conservation law and was put in place by God for the maintenance of the universe.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics (SLOT) states that the useful energy of the universe is being lost over time. Since the universe still has useful energy, it can’t be of infinite age and therefore must have had a beginning. Sarfati and others (including myself) believe SLOT has been operative since before the Fall. They argue that necessary physical processes such as digestion would not operate correctly if systems did not tend towards disorder; the breakdown of food is an example of SLOT in action. Many have believed that SLOT was part of the curse. But if SLOT is still needed for the operation of essential processes, what the Fall may have resulted in was the removal of some of God’s preservation mechanisms, not the enactment of SLOT.
It is well known that the length of the creation days is hotly contested in Christian circles. Were they normal 24-hour days or much longer periods of time? If we let scripture interpret scripture, we can find an answer. Please read Ex 20:8-11 and Ex 31:15-17. It is clear from these passages that God wants us to work six normal days and then rest for one day because that is what He did during creation week. God took time to create to give us a pattern for living. Since all creation was completed in seven days, the Gap Theory and other old-earth theories are ruled out. But some have said that 2 Pet 3:8-9 (also Ps 90:4) proves that a day need not mean a normal 24-hour day:
2 Peter 3:7-9 (ESV):
7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
But this is taking verse 8 out of context. Peter is saying that God’s judgment of the world and the fulfillment of His promises will come, but in His time and on His schedule. God does not experience time as we do: He is outside of time. He invented time! For God, there is no distinction between a day and a thousand years insofar as His experience is concerned. This verse is not saying that a normal day is a thousand years and vice versa or that a day can be any arbitrary period of time.
Some say that since all of creation week is referred to as “a day” in Gen 2:4, a day need not mean a 24-hour period. But consider Num 7:10-84 where we again have a series of days with associated ordinal numbers (as in Gen 1): first day, second day...twelfth day, and again, we have the expression “in the day” (Num 7:84) describing the 12 days. No one doubts that the 12 days in Num 7 are normal days because of the use of “in the day” in Num 7:84, so this expression “in the day” is not a valid basis for saying that a day in Gen 1 is anything other a normal day.
Astronomer and progressive creationist Hugh Ross says there was no end of the seventh day—we are allegedly still in it—because the phrase “morning and evening, the seventh day” was not used. Hence if day can be an indeterminate period of time, the creation week need not be seven literal days. However, it is possible that the seventh day was described differently because it was a day of rest, not work. And God is still working but just not creating (except for miracles, new Christians, and at the end of the age, the new heavens and earth) as He had during the first six days.
In Heb 4:1-11, God ceasing from His work on the seventh day is compared to our cessation from work when we believe on Jesus. Just as God was done creating on day 7, we stop trying to earn our salvation when we accept Christ as our savior. The text never says the seventh day continues to the present, only that God continues to rest. Sarfati says that if someone starts to rest on Saturday and is still resting on Tuesday, that in no way impacts what day it is.
If the seventh day is of unknown length, how can we be sure the length of any “days” afterwards? Yet scripture subsequently speaks of days, weeks, months, and years.
Genesis 2:4 (ESV):
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Gen 2:4 marks the start of the first toledot or generation. Toledots refer to things to follow in the text, not what came before. Genesis 2:4-25 takes a closer look at day 6. It does not re-examine days 1 to 6 and is not a second or different creation account. In chapter 1, the word for God is Elohim, the great creator God. But in chapter 2, YHWH-Elohim is used. YHWH-Elohim refers to a personal and all powerful creator God. Its use emphasizes God’s relationship to mankind. He creates Adam and Eve in His image, speaks to them, institutes marriage, makes a garden home for them, gives them work, and gives them authority over the rest of creation. The different names of God are used to emphasize His different attributes in a given context. The use of the different names of God does not indicate a different author telling a different story. While it is possible that the writings of different humans were organized into Genesis by Moses (as editor) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there was ultimately just one author, God Himself.
Genesis 2:5-6 (ESV):
5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,
6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—
The plants in Gen 2:5 were cultivated plants that had not yet sprouted, needed human cultivation, and were good for food (Gen 2:9). So, these plants were either created on day 3 but had not yet come up or they were made after the creation of Adam as his food. In either case, there need not be any contradiction with Gen 1 concerning the order of creation of plants and mankind.
Gen 2:5 does not mean there was no rain before the Flood, but only that it had not rained yet. There may have been springs of water (Gen 2:6, mist can also mean spring). There was a popular theory among creationists years ago that held that the earth was enveloped by a water vapor canopy up until the time of the Flood. This canopy was used to explain why there was no rain or rainbows before the Flood and even the longevity of pre-Flood humanity. However, subsequent computer modeling has shown that such a canopy would lead to a runaway greenhouse effect since water vapor is a greenhouse gas.2 Consequently, most major creationists have abandoned the theory. Current thinking is that rainbows may have existed prior to the Flood, but were not instituted as part of a covenant until after the Flood (Gen 9:12-17). Sarfati emphasizes that bread and wine existed long before Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt 26:26-29). Sarfati believes that the laws of nature were the same before and after the Flood: evaporation, precipitation, dispersion of light, etc.
Some have said that Gen 2:5 shows that the physical world operated by the same laws then as now (ordinary providence). Plants then needed rain and some needed cultivation, just as today. Hence, according to this reasoning, physical processes have operated according to uniformitarian assumptions (“the present is key to the past”), even as far back as Gen 1, and would be incompatible with the miraculous. Presumably, then, the formation of the earth and the life on it would have taken enormous periods of time to develop. However, miracles can occur during what would otherwise be considered ordinary providence. Miracles are additions to and not violations of ordinary providence. Jesus miraculously turned water into wine (John 2:1-11) yet gravity and people’s sense of taste were still operative.
The Creation of Adam
Genesis 2:7 (KJV):
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Adam was created as an adult. Three different Hebrew verbs are used to describe the creation of Adam: asa (make, Gen 1:26), bara (create, Gen 1:27), and yatsar (form, Gen 2:7). God created man from dust, forming him as a potter would a clay vessel taking great personal care to detail. The Hebrew word bara does not always mean creation ex nihilo. God created man with pre-existing material. Man came alive when God breathed the breath of life into him (Gen 2:7). Presumably, God only did this with Adam perhaps indicating man’s special and unique status in creation.
That man became a living creature (or soul) as a direct result of God’s work does not agree with evolution. In Genesis, man is made directly from nonliving materials, not evolved from other animals. Dust is not a metaphor but literal dust (Gen 3:19):
Genesis 3:19 (ESV):
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Thus the creation of man does not fit any evolutionary scenario.
Living creature or soul [Hebrew: nephesh chayyah - living (breathing) creatures (soul)] is the same phrase used to describe the vertebrates created on days 5 and 6.
What sets mankind apart from the animals is the fact that he was made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Man has material (dust) and immaterial components (God’s breath of life). The nonmaterial aspect has been present since Adam and Eve were created and has been transmitted to all subsequent generations. The immortal soul is present from conception. Since God is eternal and we are made in His likeness, we too are eternal beings. Whether or not animals can have immortality is not addressed in scripture, but humans clearly can. It may be that humans have an immortal soul, while other animals have only an earthly one—we just don't know. Hence an embryo is fully human at every stage of development. Of course, this has direct bearing on the abortion issue. Psalm 51:5 shows human life begins at conception and that we have a sin nature from the start. Some have tried to use Gen 2:7 as justification for abortion saying the fetus is really not human until viable and fully formed. But Adam was unique in that he was created as an adult; the condition of Adam at the time he became alive and human can’t be applied to those who are born of women.
Some of have said that all that die as infants go to heaven. 2 Sam 12:23 does imply that David would see his dead child again in heaven. But Sarfati says that scripture does not actually say in any general way what is the eternal fate of children who die young.
Garden of Eden
Genesis 2:8-9 (ESV):
8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground the L ORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Eden was a garden and man’s first home. We can’t know where Eden was since the earth’s geography has been changed by the Flood. The original Eden may have been on a mountain from which four rivers flowed (Gen 2:10-14). This garden had a large variety of fruit trees along with the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Physical death was the punishment for sin (Gen 2:17). God kept Adam from the Tree of Life after the Fall so that he would not then live in a perpetual state of sin.
Was Adam created immortal? He at least had the potential for it. We will have access to the Tree of Life in the resurrection (Rev 2:7) where there will be no possibility of sin.
What did the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil have to offer? It gave knowledge of morality, empowering man to decide for himself what is moral when only God has that right.
What was the fruit? We don’t know.
The rivers of Eden are discussed in Gen 2:10-14. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers are mentioned. It is unlikely the rivers with those names today are the same as the rivers mentioned in the text. The other two rivers are gone. The Flood changed everything. Eden was likely buried by the Flood (Ez 31:18).
Many of the same names were used for places before and after Flood, but this does not mean that the actual places were the same before and after the Flood. Settlers in the New World called places by the names of places in their home countries.
First Man’s Duties and Restrictions
Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV):
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Man was always meant to work. Before the fall work would have been easy and pleasurable.
Adam was given great freedom with one restriction:
Genesis 2:17 (YLT):
17 and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die.’
The literal translation of verse 17 (above) shows that a process of dying would begin if and when Adam disobeyed God. This process would be akin to a branch cut from a tree. The cut branch begins to die yet there are still living cells in the branch for sometime afterwards. Hence the assertion that Adam did not really die “in the day” he disobeyed is without merit.
Some who accept deep time have said that if there was no death before the Fall, then Adam would not have been able to understand what God meant in Gen 2:17. However, Adam could have understood what death was without having ever seen it. Death is a concept and proposition which can be intellectually grasped. This concept could have been preprogrammed into Adam’s knowledge. Hence this idea is no help for those who insist there was death before the Fall.
Naming of the Animals and Preparation for Eve
Genesis 2:18-20 (ESV):
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
The “not good” in verse 18 does not indicate evil but incompleteness. God will make Eve for Adam so he won’t be alone. In verses 19 and 20, God brings all the animals to Adam to be named. Perhaps Adam realized he did not have a mate during this process and felt alone.
Women are described as having the role of helper in verse 20. This specifies role, not intrinsic worth, and does not imply inferiority (more later). God has been also called a helper (Ps 30:10). Men and women stand equal before God (Gen 3:22; 1 Pet 3:7).
Adam was given dominion in naming the animals (Gen 2:19-20a). In verse 19 we read that “God had formed” the animals beforehand, consistent with the order of creation in Gen 1. Some English translations leave out “had” leading some people to conclude Gen 2 and 1 contradict each other concerning the order of creation. However, the inclusion of “had” in the translation, as in the ESV, is completely consistent with the verb tenses (waw consecutive) used and brings harmony to Gen 1-2. Scripture never contradicts itself, but we may misunderstand.
Naming All The Animals
Some have claimed that Adam would not have had time to name all the animals in a single normal day. This is incorrect for several reasons. God brought the animals to Adam so Adam just had to name them. The number of “kinds” then was much less than the number of species today. For example, God may have created a dog kind that eventually became all dog breeds, coyotes, jackals, wolves, etc. according to potential variations built-in from the start. Adam did not have to name sea creatures, creeping things (insects, spiders), or plants. Most of the animals God brought were air-breathing, land vertebrates and birds. These animals represent a mere fraction of all living things on earth today. Even if 2500 animals were involved, Adam could have finished the task in the afternoon of day 6. If Adam took five seconds to name each animal kind and there were 2500 animal kinds to name, he could have completed the task in less than four hours. In addition, Adam was in great health physically and mentally, without defects, so he would have been able to work with high efficiency.
Creation of Eve
Genesis 2:21-23 (ESV):
21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Here God used anesthesia in the first surgery. A rib was removed and the incision healed. Eve was made from Adam and so was his descendant. Both Adam and Eve were made in God’s image. Woman was taken from man’s side as his equal—not from his foot (inferior) or head (superior). All humans are descendants of Adam, and all, except Adam, are descendants of Eve.
Some creationists believe Eve was Adam’s genetic clone, with the exception of the Y chromosome in Adam and the two X chromosomes in Eve. Most genes in the human population come in only two varieties (alleles), consistent with this idea. However, other creationists believe that many of Adam’s and Eve’s genes, not necessarily all, were heterozygous; so for those genes, there would have been four varieties initially.
Interestingly, God removed the only bone in the human body that will grow back! And contrary to the belief of some, men and women have the same number of ribs. Of course, removing a rib would not affect future generations since surgery on the body does not affect the genes.
Some have said that there must have been a period of time longer than a day before Eve was created since Adam declared “at last!” when he first sees Eve (Gen 2:23). But this is not a compelling argument as Adam was no doubt just feeling his loneliness acutely.
Adam was permitted to name Eve demonstrating his authority over and responsibilities to her.
Sarfati discusses the scriptural roles of men and women with regards to gender equality. There are two views: complementarianism and egalitarianism. Men and women are equal in worth because both are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), but are their roles equal? Complementarianism views the sex roles in a hierarchy of authority while egalitarianism does not. But subordination need not mean inferiority. We have political leaders we submit to; employees obey employers; children submit to parents and wives are asked to obey their husbands. Even in the triune God, Jesus, although He is fully God, submitted to the God the Father; clearly His subordination did not indicate inferiority! Jesus even submitted to his parents and His mother in particular (John 2:1-11). So it is clear that having different roles with differing authority does not change the inherent dignity of the people involved.
The Genesis account of the creation of man is treated as history by New Testament writers. For example, Paul refers to Genesis 2 in 1 Tim 2:13 and again in 1 Cor 11:8-12:
1 Timothy 2:13 (ESV):
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
1 Corinthians 11:8-12 (ESV):
8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;
12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
Another example comes from Jesus citing Genesis on marriage in Matt 19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-9. Jesus said that Adam and Eve were made at the beginning of creation, thereby confirming Genesis as history and that the universe was made recently.
Genesis 2:24-25 (ESV):
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
God instituted and defined marriage on day 6. A marriage is defined as an intimate relationship between one man and one woman. The married couple is to “leave and cleave” emotionally. They form a new family unit. Leaving does not mean they no longer honor their parents, just that their emotional lives center primarily on each other instead of their parents. The rejection of Genesis has led to our confusion over sexuality today.
Adam and Eve had it all: fellowship with God, work with dignity, good health, all their physical needs met, a beautiful place to live, delicious food, etc. Despite this, Satan was still able to tempt the couple and as a result sin separated man from God (Gen 3). But God had a plan. God came to earth in the form of a man (Jesus), lived a sinless life, then died in our place upon the cross, and was raised from the dead. And now eternal life is again available to all who will believe on Jesus for salvation (Rom 10:9-10).
- 1. Sarfati J (2015) The Genesis Account A theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA
- 2. Vardiman L, Bousselot K (1998) Sensitivity studies on vapor canopy temperature profiles, Proc Fourth Int Conf Creationism, 607-18 < http://static.icr.org/i/pdf/technical/Sensitivity-Studies-on-Vapor-Canopy-Temperature-Profiles.pdf > Accessed 2018 Feb 28