|Hopetoun Falls, Australia|
The book of Genesis teaches that God created in seven days. The first two chapters of this book explain how God created, as do many other passages of Scripture. From the Bible we can learn that creation is dependent upon God (Isaiah 40:6-8), that He created from his own free will (Revelation 4:11), God created by His spoken word (Genesis 1:1-2), God’s creation was good (Genesis 1:31), and creation is the background of redemption because the Creator is also the Redeemer (Colossians 1:13-17) [Garrett].
Additionally, creation is something that took place in history and one reason God created was for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).
Scripture also teaches us that the Trinity worked in the creation as Father, Son, and Spirit. In Genesis, we see a special emphasis placed on the Son as it teaches that the Word of God created different things; John in his Gospel tells us that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1). God spoke creation into existence, and later, the spoken Word of God became incarnate to redeem the creation that was originally fashioned as something good.
The Creation of Earth
Today, there are at least ten explanations concerning the creation of the earth and the Genesis account of Scripture.
- Literal Day Theory – God created the world in six successive 24-hour days.
- Religious Language Theory – Genesis is a theological account and says nothing about science.
- Flood Theory – This theory teaches that the Flood made it difficult to know the true age of the earth. (This theory also attempts to account for animal and plant life in the earth’s strata, but most geologists do not recognize this theory as valid.)
- Successive Catastrophes – This view is similar to the flood theory, but proponents hold to the idea that there were a series of floods and catastrophes and then new creations.
- Six-Day Theory – This theory teaches that the creation was limited to a small area in Mesopotamia where God just rehabilitated a small portion of the earth.
- Gap Theory – This theory teaches that there was a long interval of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This theory is not supported by the Hebrew language of these passages.
- The Day-Age Theory – This theory teaches that each day of creation was actually a longer period of time.
- Literal but not Successive Days – This theory teaches that God created the world in six literal days, but that they were not one right after the other.
- Open Day Theory – This theory states that the creation was not limited to the six days, so that if a creature was created on a certain day, it could have also been in the process of creation on a later day.
- Revelatory Day Theory – Theory that God revealed the creation to Moses on six days. Thus, the days are not related to the age of the earth. The days are more topical than chronological. Each day is seen as an allegory according to this view.
Each of these theories has strengths and weaknesses; however, some of these theories are really just slight variations of one another. The major theories include the Literal Day Theory, the Revelatory Day Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and the Gap Theory.
The Age of the Earth
The Revelatory Day Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and the Gap Theory all argue that the earth can in fact be as old as it appears to be. These views argue for an old earth. The Literal Day Theory argues for a younger earth.
The Recent Creation Theory or Scientific Creationism states that science is in error, that the earth and the universe were not created billions of years ago, and that they only came into existence several thousand years ago. This theory does not try to establish a set date.
Proponents of this view argue for the Appearance of Age. They claim that the apparent age of anything in Genesis was created by God ready to be used by him in a mature state. One biblical example of this is that of the new wine in John 2, which the people believed had aged for many years.
If you had presented Adam to scientists and told them that he was only a few hours old, they would have assumed a thousand reasons why Adam should have been an adult male. For those who have no belief in the supernatural, they will always find supernatural events unimaginable and impossible when it comes to the subject of Genesis, but the entirety of the data from science reinforces the supernatural power of God.
The debate between creation and evolution is not a matter of evidence; it is a matter of presuppositions. Neither of these two views can be proven, just as it cannot be proven that there is no God, and it cannot be proven that there is a God.
The Bible is a book of miracles. It starts in Genesis 1 with God creating the world out of nothing. From there it just keeps on going. If someone has a problem with supernatural miracles, then he or she might as well close the Bible. When any person observes the Bible, he or she will find that miraculous things will be found continuously from the very first page.
Views on the creation of the universe and the origin of life are philosophical, not scientific; science is observed. In order to prove anything about the origin of life, someone must observe it. Since no person living today was present when the earth was created, discussion of the topic is not rightly classified as scientific.
Just as different theories concern the creation of the earth and the universe, different theories also concern the special creation of man. This has been the case ever since the publication of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859.
Three basic theories concern the creation of humanity. The first view is Instantaneous Creation. This view is held by Henry Morris (1918-2006) and teaches that humanity was created instantly. Proponents of this view usually hold to the Literal Day Theory of Genesis.
The second view is Theistic Evolution. This view holds to the idea of evolution, while at the same time, teaches that God was intricately involved in the work and even imparted the spiritual nature of Adam to him at a specific point. This is similar to Augustine’s beliefs about creation, although Augustine made more of a distinction between creation in actuality and possibility. He argued that first God created man in possibility (as a concept) and later in actuality.
The third view is known as Progressive Creation. This view teaches that God was active in initiating the process of evolution and was also active at bringing forth new life forms at different stages in the process of evolution. Augustine also held similar ideas to this view when he taught that God guided the seeds of creation.
It is clear that there are a number of ideas and interpretations about the special creation of man, but one thing that each view shares is the belief that God had a special plan for humanity. This plan involved God’s providence, sovereignty, and nature.
According to Wayne Grudem, providence may be defined as “the doctrine that God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.”
If we are to accept Grudem’s definition, then we must agree that God creates, sustains, and directs all things. This is a very good definition. God’s providence shows the goodness and the love of God, even in the midst of suffering. God lovingly rules over His creation, sustaining and directing it, and sharing with it His good nature. Not only has God created and sustained humanity, but He has specifically created humanity to bear His image.
So what do Christians believe about creation?
We can learn several specific things from the creation account in Genesis and from other passages in the Bible. Regardless of the position someone holds as to the age of the earth, all Christians can agree on the following eight things:
- God created the Heavens and the Earth and all things visible and invisible which fill them (Genesis 1, Colossians 1:16; Acts 17:24; John 1).
- God created by His word (Genesis 1, Psalm 33).
- God created through His Son (Hebrews 1; John 1; Colossians 1).
- God created in six days, whether they were twenty-four hours or not. God created progressively. This is also how God works with His creatures; sanctification is a progressive process (Genesis 1).
- God values His creation; all He created is good (Genesis 1).
- All things are created for the glory of God (Revelation 4; Colossians 1).
- We are never more advanced in our concept of God than when we worship Him as Creator. Salvation is God saving what He created; His creatures should worship Him as Creator (Revelation 4). We worship through obedience.
- God the Father created through the Son by the Spirit.
I hold to the literal view that God created in 6 twenty-four hour days. However, I also believe that the earth is older than some Creationists suggests. I think it is at least 25,000 years old. I believe God created in a mature state and that as a result things appear to be older than they are. This was not an attempt by God to deceive humanity, but rather so that He could begin to bless his creation more quickly. When Jesus healed the lame, they did not have to learn to walk as an infant does, and I believe the same is true with the account of creation.
I believe that God sustains his creation and that humans have a responsibility to do the same. We were created as his caretakers of this world. In the garden Adam was to attend to the animals and today we should do the same. I believe that when animals go extinct (about 5,000 a year) we are not doing our job well to care for God’s creation. I also believe that over time God has introduced new species to the world through micro-evolution. We discover about 2,000 new species every year.
Finally, I do not believe dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago. I believe that they died out over time and that they did in fact co-exist with humans. By co-exist I mean that humans and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time, but that does not mean humans were keeping them around as pets. There is evidence to support this in Scripture, but also in history.
Below is a video series that sheds some light on these ideas:
I don’t agree with everything in these videos, but they both bring up some interesting evidence and raise some good questions.
James Leo Garrett, Systematic Theology: Biblical, Historical, and Evangelical, v. 1, 2d., (North Richland Hills: BIBAL Press, 2000), 347-367.
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1252.