ORIGINS #1 - Genesis
ORIGINS #2 - Creation

Creation Models

CreationThe book of Genesis opens simply ... "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The author boldly presents God as Creator then as Redeemer of humanity. Life is not an accident. God has a purpose and he is working to fulfill it throughout history. Men and women are made in the image of God. As partners together, their God-given mandate is to fill the earth with loving community and to give responsible leadership to the planet.

All Christians believe in creation but there are a variety of opinions as to exactly how God created the earth and over what period of time. We have a lot of questions today that the Bible doesn't directly answer (for instance the theory of evolution wasn't even in existence when Genesis was written). After all, the Bible is primarily the story of God's work of redemption. It was not written to be a science textbook, although it does contribute significantly to the study of science.

In the book Three Views on Creation and Evolution, three views on creation are presented [General Editors J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds]:

1. Young Earth Creationism (presented by Paul Nelson and John Mark Reynolds). This view sees the earth being created in six twenty-four hour days about ten thousand years ago. For information on this view, check out www.answersingenesis.org and www.creation.com 

2. Old Earth or 'Progressive' Creationism (presented by Robert C. Newman). This view sees the earth being created over an extended period of time many billions years ago. [An intermediate position between views #1 and #2 is referred to as the "Gap Theory", which sees God's original creation in Genesis 1:1, followed by the destruction of the earth's habitat in Genesis 1:2, perhaps due to Satan's rebellion. The rest of the Genesis account then describes the restoration of the earth just a few thousand years ago in six literal days.] For more informaiton on this view, check out www.reasons.org

3. Theistic Evolution (presented by Howard K. Van Till). This view is the belief that God created the world through the process of evolution, and that Genesis 1-2 are to be taken figuratively, not literally. World renown scientist, Francis S. Collins is an example of a believer who holds this view. His recent book The Language of God endeavours to show the compatibility of modern science and faith (Collins prefers to refer to this view as BioLogos). For more information on this view, check out www.biologos.org

The most important thing is to embrace the truth of creation and of a God who is the designer of all that exists. As we discover his fingerprints in the universe, we can come to know Him better, find and fulfill our purpose in life, and live to please Him.

Additional recommended reading:

Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Origins of Everything by Gerard Rau.

The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel (author of the best-selling book The Case for Christ), which looks at scientific evidence that points towards God.

Seven Days that Divide the World (2011) by John Lennox. 

* The Evolution Controversy: A Survey of Competing Theories by Thomas B. Fowler and Daniel Kuebler.

* "Intelligent Design” is not really a separate view – www.discovery.org/csc

I enjoy hearing different perspectives on any issue and then taking time to reflect on them. It always enlarges and enriches your own perspective.

P.S. Check out these upcoming special events related to ORIGINS.

 

Comments

Hi Mark,

I agree with you that more important than answering the question of “HOW” God created the universe is just believing that He did. If we needed to know how, the Lord would have been more specific in the Bible about how He did it. (Maybe Genesis would have read more like “The Dummy’s Guide to Creating your own universe”… LOL)

I think Hebrews 11:3 puts it really simply, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." I love that this verse is in amongst all those other really great examples of faith that are commended by the author. It’s fascinating to me that this question of the origin of the universe is listed there as something we understand by faith. Presumably, as with the other examples of faith in the chapter, believing that the universe was formed at God’s command is also to be commended :) I think that’s pretty exciting!

God bless,
Bec

I appreciate your posts mark
mike

I'd like to respectfully add here that (if I must be labelled), I'm a "young Earth Creationist." I was raised as a theistic evolutionist, but I discarded the "theistic" part, largely because it was contradictory. Either God created a paradisical world by the power of His Word, as the Bible records; or He used a system of death and suffering that took millions of years. Eventually when I was saved, years later, it took almost 2 years to convince me that the Bible was trustworthy, and one of the biggest stumbling blocks was the contradictions between "science" and Genesis.

The methods used to measure geological time (radimoetric dating, etc.) are known to be unreliable and often mere guesswork. And many scientists affirm the Biblical account of Creation - for example, Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, Master Books Publishers, and other groups like that. An interesting read on the topic is the book "In Six Days," edited by John F Ashton, which is a collection of essays by 50 different authors, each of whom has a doctorate in a particular field of science, from secular universities, and who write about the reasons why they believe Genesis 1 means what it says.

I'm going to trust that God's Word is true, and that He hasn't lied to us in His Word (and that He didn't reserve special revelation for people who disbelieved in Him, such as Charles Darwin!). After all, if we can't trust the Bible from the first chapter, why trust any of it?!

Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts in your blog!

I'd also like to respectfully disagree with any old earth view. The Bible is quite clear that God said 6 literal days and the earth was created at the command of his voice. I personally find this much more palatable than believing that God found it necessary to leave the earth to develop itself.

It is an issue of faith for me. I believe in a God that is not constrained by the physical created world that we, his creation, live in. I believe that he operates in ways that are above our understanding, and just because we humans can't speak a word to create a universe doesn't mean that an omnipotent God who "holds the universe in his hand" is not capable of it.

Evolution has no "design" component whatsoever and is left entirely to a series of random destructive chances. The laws governing the universe (entropy - Isaac Newton) establish quite clearly that things only deteriorate and don't somehow spontaneously get better by themselves. Spinning things slow down, unattended gardens grow weeds, and sitting in a cloud of radiation while you are pregnant will only get you a deformed baby and not one with super powers. This is such a massive topic that I cannot do justice here, but evolution is impossible.

Hi Mark,

The problem of the 6 days creation for the Old Earth Creationism is not in Genesis, it's in Exodus 20:8-11 where God speaks of 6 working days, as in the creation days. God seems pretty clear to me on the subject.
I don't think there is a point going too deep into evolution. The problem that I see for Christians who hold the evolutionist view is that God evaluated his creation as being "good", hence no need to improve. The elephant in the room that everyone ignores is the fact that evolution means adding information to the DNA. There is no known natural process that would explain the occurrence of information sequences in DNA from non-organic elements or by what processes the DNA changes would explain why a marine mammal such as a whale is perfectly adapted for its environment while dramatically different from a land mammal such as the cow. If both have a mammal ancestor, what's the process that got the DNA sequences in the ancient mammal in the first place? What's the process that got high depth proof lungs, adjustable heart beats and fat insulator in a whale, all coded in it's DNA? What's the process that got different information in the cow's DNA? Natural selection and random mutations don't explain the dramatic changes and addition of genes in the genome of the whale and the cow, mind you, they are in the same class. Science as proven that the key to life is DNA. You can have cats that glow in the dark with the right gene: http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/12/todays-photo-cl.html God's creation was perfect but sin and degeneration got us here: diseases, cancer, old age and death. But in God, there is new life.
I understand why many, including me, tend to take this matters lightly. If God said that the creation was done in 6 days and it was good, what's the big fuss? The snake told Eve that maybe God didn't mean what he said or he didn't say what he meant. If I don't believe God in Genesis why would I believe him later when he said: "to be continued, I'll be back".

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts on this topic.

From your descriptions of the three possibilities of God's means of creation, it appears the only difference between Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism is the addition of billions of years between Day One and Day Two. I am curious as to why you would lean more towards one and not the other.

With respect, it seems to me that while a God who is able to create something out of nothing (i.e., the whole of creation ex nihilo), can choose to do so over billions of years between the first and second day, he can also choose to do so over six standard 24-hour solar days. While both are obviously miraculous creationist positions, I just feel that the addition of billions of years between the first and second days of creation to be unnecessary (for want of a better term). Respectfully, I am also unaware of support for this long period of time between the first and second days of creation based solely on scripture, although I am happy to be corrected.

With further thought, I know that one of the strongest criticisms levelled against conservative six-day creationism is the problem of starlight and time, which may be roughly summed as: "How can light, which originated from stars billions of light-years away, be visible on earth if God created everything only a few thousand years ago?". Temporarily discounting the possibility that a powerful creator can choose to bring light from distant stars in but a moment, a recent work by an Australian scientist, Dr John Hartnett, addresses this question in his book "Starlight, Time and the New Physics" (some of his earlier work appears here: http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1616/).

By the way, you may wish to know of two leading works on the Gap Theory that take opposing positions, and which may be worth adding to your literature review on the topic: Dr.Hugh Ross' Creation and Time (from the Christian ministry Reasons to Believe; his thoughts on the Gap Theory are here: http://www.reasons.org/resources/fff/2001issue05/index.shtml#closing_the_gap) and Dr. Jonathan Sarfati's "Refuting Compromise" (from the Christian ministry Creation Ministries International; introductory chapter: http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/3301/#r2).

Warm regards,
Michael

Good discussion!

I have no problem with literal 24 hour days of creation. Objectors would note, however, that the earth's sun wasn't created or set in motion until a few 'days' into the creation week. Also, in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter mentions that a 'day is unto the Lord as a 1000 years', indicating that time for God is experienced differently than for us. For instance, Jesus' last message to us was 'Behold, I come quickly!' That was about 2000 years ago now. So we can't be too dogmatic on literal 24 hour days. They were periods of time - that's about all we know for sure.

I too have problems with the theistic evolution approach. I am uncomfortable saying that all of Genesis 1-2 is figurative - just an allegory. Genesis 1 indicates that God created each living thing to reproduce 'after their kind', not one single life form from which everything else evolved.

Wow, you sure have started an interesting discussion here! One of the interesting things about that quote from 2 Peter 3, is the text preceding it, where Peter also notes that a time will come when people are going to forget that God created everything by His Word:


3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

But anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, it is interesting to hear what people have to say!

What the vast majority of people discount in this debate is the concept of "oral language". People talk about interpreting the Genesis story "literally". This however is a mistake, because the stories were oral for a long time before they ever became literature.

An example for you: The Spirit of God hovered over the waters. I happen to think that this is actually referring to Hydrogen. Hydrogen is the first element. All stars are basically hydrogen furnaces that then create other elements. Stars are the building blocks of the universe. But an oral story from thousands of years ago was never going to use the word hydrogen. The word in the oral brain that describes this is of course water.

If I am to interpret Genesis 1 "literally" then I must believe that the Spirit of God hovered over the H2O (two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen) and for me to believe anything different is considered heresy. But if I can interpret Genesis 1 "orally" then it is very easy to see the Spirit of God hovering over the hydrogen masses at the dawn of time.

Interestingly the word hydrogen can be broken down into hydro, Greek for water and gen, from which we have the word genesis.

Interpreting the Bible "orally" does not mean I consider it to be any less authoritative. But insisting that it must be "literal" (based in the word literature) is a narrow world view. Those of us who live in a world dominated by writing can not imagine a world where writing did not exist. I can say with one hundred percent certainty that Adam did not write. The invention of writing can clearly be traced in history, and the world is definitely older than writing, even by the estimation of everyone on this blog.

This should be enough of an example to then realise that we are allowed to view every word of the creation stories as TRUE, but also ORAL. In doing so, we realise that we are not required to be dogmatic about 6 "literal" days. 6 "oral" days could easily be something we don't understand because "day" is the only word that existed in ancient times to explain the concept.

It is the insistence on "literal" (and not understanding the linguistic nuances), that then causes skeptics to turn around and say "see, your bible must be false". I am not suggesting that we change the bible for the sake of skeptics. But do we need to insist on something that God does not require of us, when we could actually be reading the bible incorrectly?

God Bless you all and may the Lord lead you all in his righteousness and holiness as you seek to glorify him in Melbourne an the nations.

May the Lord Jesus be glorified!

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