Defending the truth about Genesis
‘Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, Is it so that God has said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ (Genesis 3:1)
Since the first temptation of humankind, doubt and subtlety have been the weapons of the Evil One. ‘Did God really say … ?’ is perhaps his greatest innovation. As followers of Christ, we should expect this doubt emanating from Satan and our fallen world. However, tragically, Christians are, more and more, asking ‘Does the Bible really teach six-day, special creation?’ The answer is a solid yes. This can be shown in so many ways that it should be intellectually embarrassing to suggest otherwise. Let’s look at just a few.
Reading Genesis 1, you can’t help noticing that the Bible clearly speaks of six days of creation. At this point some quote from 2 Peter 3:8, ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ They cite this verse to show that the days of creation could possibly be long periods of time, even billions of years. However, Peter is not talking about the days of creation at all. Nor is he defining a day, saying that ‘One day = 1,000 years’. He is speaking of the Lord’s patience, making the point that God is outside of time, as He is the Creator of time. So to God, the passage of a (real, literal) day is like—not ‘equal to’—a (real literal) thousand years.1
‘The exegesis of desperation’
Evangelical theologian Douglas Kelly quotes a prominent theologian of last century, Professor Marcus Dods, as saying that all the attempts to try to make Genesis say something other than what it so plainly does are ‘futile and mischievous’. Even a liberal like Dods (who did not believe Genesis was true) could see that such attempts ‘do violence to Scripture [and] foster a style of interpretation by which the text is forced to say whatever the interpreter desires’.
Professor Dods (who accepted evolution and long ages) was decrying the dishonesty of that exegesis which pretends that these concepts can be harmonized with the Bible. He said about Genesis 1 that ‘if, for example, the word “dayâ€? in these chapters does not mean a period of twenty-four hours, the interpretation of Scripture is hopeless.’
Kelly, a widely-respected systematic theologian, rightly calls evangelical attempts to pretend that the Bible can be compatible with long-age thinking and evolution the ‘exegesis of desperation’.
Quoted from: D. Kelly, Creation and Change: Genesis 1.1–2.4 in the light of changing scientific paradigms, Mentor (Christian Focus Publications), U.K., 1997.
To determine what the Genesis days were, we need to go to Genesis itself. Simply put, if God had wanted to communicate to us that he created the whole universe in six ordinary days, He could scarcely have made it plainer or more obvious. There are many Hebrew words for long-age concepts, but the words used in Genesis 1 can, in that context, have no other meaning than that all of creation was in six ordinary earth-rotation days.2
You will notice, after each period of creation recorded in Genesis 1, the phrase ‘And the evening and the morning were the nth day.’ What else can this mean to any cognisant person but a 24-hour day? Yet, our God is so gracious to us! Not only do we have this common-sense approach, we have the Hebrew word for ‘day’. Whenever this word for ‘day’ (yom) is used with either ‘evening’ OR ‘morning’, it always means an ordinary, 24-hour (approximately3) day. Whenever the words ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ occur together in the same verse, it also refers to an ordinary day. Similarly, when an ordinal (first, second, etc.) is used, yom only ever means an ordinary day. In Genesis one, by using all of these together, God has left us with no choice but to accept that this is referring to six-ordinary-day creation.4
The rest of the Old Testament
Many choose to think that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are metaphorical, that they are ‘picture language’. But is this consistent with the rest of Holy Scripture? God’s Word in the Old Testament mandates a literal understanding of Genesis. Exodus 20:8–10a, 11 says: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, you nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it.’
This obviously opposes any non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1, especially since this passage is the basis for our seven-day week—six days of work, followed by the seventh day of rest. We are not supposed to rest for millions of years, but for one day!
Again, in Exodus 31:17: ‘… for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.’
Nowhere does any part of the Old Testament even hint at long ages of time.
The New Testament
The New Testament confirms the accuracy and authority of the Old Testament in all matters. Look at what Jesus says about the Scriptures in John 10:35, ‘The scripture cannot be broken.’ So does Jesus ever indicate that those first 11 chapters of Genesis are allegorical? Perhaps even mythical? No. He affirms their literal reading and verity, for example in Luke 17:26–27:
‘And as it was in the days of Noah, so it also shall be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all.’
In Mark 10:6–8 (cf. Mt.19:3–6), on the subject of marriage, Jesus says: ‘But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.’
Not only is this a reference to the literal event (the creation of Adam and Eve) described in Genesis 1:27, our Lord makes it clear that there were no long time-spans preceding Adam. The first couple was there from the beginning, not billions of years later.
In the very next words, Jesus goes on to quote Genesis 2:24: ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.’
If evolution were true, then populations of men and women evolved from male and female animal ancestors; woman was not made from man’s rib or side. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching on married people becoming ‘one flesh’, because Adam and Eve literally were ‘one flesh’, would be destroyed.
Christ the Lord has thus put His stamp of affirmation on the literal, historical nature of these events. Also, by quoting from Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in the same passage He makes it clear that these are not two different, contradictory accounts of creation, as many critics of literal Genesis erroneously claim.
In Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15, and 1 Timothy 2, Paul always speaks of Adam as a real person, not some mythical being. In 2 Peter 3, the Apostle refers to Noah’s Flood as literal, and as global, comparing it to the future destruction by fire.
What more needs to be said? Obviously, from cover to cover, the Bible affirms this straightforward truth: Genesis is a true historical record. God created the heavens and the earth and all things in them in six literal, 24-hour days—no long time-spans were involved.
When critics try to tell you that Genesis is to be taken allegorically, show them these simple facts. Show them how textual evidences from Genesis, the Old Testament, and the New Testament point to a literal six-day creation. We need to assail the lies and doubts of Satan just as Christ did in Matthew 4, with the clear Word of the Lord.
Heath Curtis is a pre-seminary student and a free-lance Christian writer in Nebraska, USA. He and debate partner Rebekah Gilbert were the 1998 champions of the National Parliamentary Debate Association. Return to top.
References and notes
- The only way one could be misled would be by ignoring the last part of the verse (‘a thousand years [is] as [like] a day’), and the next verse, which clearly shows the context. Also, it hardly seems appropriate to use a passage referring to one thousand years to defend the idea of ‘days’ lasting millions or billions of years.
- See Grigg R., How long were the days of Genesis 1? CEN Technical Journal 5(1):70–78, 1991.