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15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati

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Feedback archive Feedback 2009

Why do we need to look outside the Bible?

Answering questions about creation and evolution is vital for strengthening faith

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Published: 5 December 2009(GMT+10)

James C wonders why we need to look outside the Bible for answers. Why not just accept what the Bible says? His letter is first printed in its entirety, and then below, CMI’s Dr Tas Walker responds point-by-point, showing why a solid response to questions about science and faith are so important.

Hi folks,

I have been reading the article and I wonder why we need to look for additional answers or understanding outside of the Bible at all. We can all read the account of creation in Genesis exactly the same. Everyone’s Bible states that it took six days to make heaven and earth. There is another scripture in Peter’s epistle that says “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years” so it is entirely possible in the light of this verse that creation took 6000 years (6 days x 1000 years) instead of just 6 days.

Now whether that’s the case only God knows but I’m not going to loose any sleep over it because it won’t affect my salvation one little bit. Will it affect someone else’s? That’s between them and God but may I say that if people get thrown off track so easily by these sorts of issues then it’s doubtful if they have ever known the Creator personally at all.

Sorry I’m not much of a scholar so I can’t throw around any credentials but then the saving grace of God is not dependant on such things. To my knowledge, and I could be wrong, Jesus never tried to “save” or have a relationship with his “creation’ by lecturing them about what happened in Genesis chapters 1–2. He was actually more concerned with what happened in chapter 3 and so should we. It is still the cause of many missing the mark and being “thrown out” of the presence of God. What is it? Simply listening too long to another opinion or “reasoned intellectual argument” that undermined the word of the Creator God. Who was this first “intellectual giant” who stole the show away from the creator and his creation through his cleverly thought out lecture? Yep, that old snake in the grass—Lucifer. Now God forbid that we should do the same but we must treat the word of God with the utmost reverence and respect and not start to say “hath God said?”

If we all as Bible believers agree that all the scriptures were inspired by God then what he wrote is good enough for me. In the end all our theories will vanish away but the “word of God will never pass away”. Here’s one last thought about trying to interpret the Bible. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit wrote these words then he knows what it means and therefore he’s the one we all need to ask. If there’s going to be no extension to the complete canon of scripture then we’re stuck with what we’ve already been given and in the end that’s all we really need to know—just what the Bible says. Remember that the Lord God knows exactly how long he took to create everything and then he said through the prophet Isaiah “as high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways from being found out”. Ok then—six days will be fine by me.

James C

Dear James,

I have been reading the article and I wonder why we need to look for additional answers or understanding outside of the Bible at all.

We need the sorts of answers provided on this website because we live in the world and we need to apply the teaching of the Bible to our real-life situation.

We can all read the account of creation in Genesis exactly the same. Everyone’s Bible states that it took six days to make heaven and earth.

Yes. In other words anyone who accepts that the Bible is the Word of God, accurate and without error, would have no problem accepting that God created this world in six literal days about 6,000 years ago. That’s what the Bible plainly says and God has the power to do it.

But what are we to do with the challenges from scientists that we read in the newspaper, see on television and find in school text books? They tell us that the world is millions of years old. And how are we to answer those who ask about the conflict, such as our children, our work colleagues and our neighbours? If we just tell them that the scientists are wrong they are not likely to believe us. We need to give them a satisfactory explanation that answers their questions. That is why the information posted on this creation.com website is so important.

There is another scripture in Peter’s epistle that says “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years” so it is entirely possible in the light of this verse that creation took 6000 years (6 days x 1000 years) instead of just 6 days.

Except that the Bible very clearly says that the world was created in six literal days. Why try to stretch the time? Perhaps you are trying to fit the idea of long periods of time to appease the scientists. But even 12,000 years (6,000 + 6,000) is nowhere enough to match the alleged billion-year age of the earth.

There are some practical problems with the idea that one day is a thousand years. If God made the plants during the third one-thousand-year period, then they had to wait 1000 thousand years for the sun to be created. And the plants would have had to wait 1000 years more before the birds and flying animals arrived on the scene, which means they would have had trouble being pollinated. And what does it mean to have an evening and a morning of a one-thousand-year period?

We need to give them a satisfactory explanation that answers their questions.

In any case, that is a wrong application of 2 Peter 3:8. First, it is very selective to just quote the first part of the verse, “one day with the Lord is as a thousand years” when the rest of the sentence says, “and a thousand years are as one day.” The two cancel out. You see, 2 Peter 3:8 is not talking about how to interpret the days in Genesis 1 but telling us that God is eternal. God lives outside of time. A long time for us does not seem long to Him. A short time for us does not mean He has to rush. He is not constrained by time as we are.

Second, if we were going to be consistent in the way we apply 2 Peter 3:8 we should apply it all through the Old Testament. That means we would have Jonah inside the belly of the fish, not for 3 days, but for 3,000 years. And we would understand Joshua walking around the walls of Jericho, not for 7 days, but for 7,000 years. We would also have to claim that a watch in the night was really a thousand years long, given that Peter was quoting Psalm 90:4

And finally, when we read the Bible we need to understand what is actually written. The word day in Hebrew can have a variety of meanings, as the word day can have in English. For example, when I say, “In my father’s day” the word “day” does not mean a literal 24-hour period but a long, indefinite period of time. When I say, “I went out in the boat for the day” it means I went out for the daylight part of the day. And if I say that I stayed in Sydney for ten days it would mean I was there for ten literal 24-hour days. The number before the word “day” indicates it is the literal thing.

In Genesis chapters 1 & 2 the Hebrew word “day” is used with all three meanings. For example, when Genesis 1:16 says, “the greater light to govern the day” it means the daylight part of the day. In Genesis 2:4 we read, “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens”, and the word “day” here means the six-day period of time during which the Lord created everything. Notice that the word day does not have a number with it. But when we read in Genesis 1:5, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day,” it is clear that the Bible means one 24-hour day. In fact, this verse defines the word day. And the extra description of “evening” and “morning” provides extra emphasis that this is one literal, ordinary day. The same construction is used in verses 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31.

In other parts of the Old Testament when a similar construction is used with the word day, such as with a number, or with evening, or with morning, it always refers to an ordinary day (see for example Exodus 12: 3, 6 or Deuteronomy 1:2). So when God uses, for each of the creation days, all three—the number, the word evening, and the word morning, He is emphasizing in the strongest possible terms that these are earth-rotation days with an evening and a morning.

Now whether that’s the case only God knows but I’m not going to loose any sleep over it because it won’t affect my salvation one little bit.

As we have shown, God has made it plain that creation took six literal days. And, no, it won’t affect your salvation because, when we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9). But an incorrect understanding of Genesis affects our understanding of the Gospel and our ability to communicate it to others.

Will it affect someone else’s? That’s between them and God …

It will affect them if they can’t understand the Gospel. And that is likely if they do not understand God’s righteousness, their sin and its consequences because they have been told God created using evolution over millions of years.

… but may I say that if people get thrown off track so easily by these sorts of issues then it’s doubtful if they have ever known the Creator personally at all. Sorry I’m not much of a scholar so I can’t throw around any credentials but then the saving grace of God is not dependant on such things.

This issue has derailed the faith of many people, such as one-time evangelist Charles Templeton, David Williamson and Dan Brown. Templeton told in his last book of the troublesome questions he had about science and Genesis—questions that were not answered and which led him to say “Farewell to God”.

Renowned playwright Williamson said:

“‘I don’t pray to anything. I went to church in suburban Melbourne and had an intensely religious phase until I was 12, but then I heard the theory of evolution and it cured me of any idea we were God’s children. We’re just a life form that’s evolved reasonably successfully. There’s no grand plan for the universe or our lives … ”1

A light went off, and I said, ‘The Bible doesn’t make sense. Science makes much more sense to me.’ And I just gravitated away from religion.—Dan Brown, Author, The Da Vinci Code

How sad. And Dan Brown, author of the best selling Da Vinci Code novel said:

“I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, ‘I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and earth in seven days. Which is right?’ Unfortunately, the response I got was, ‘Nice boys don’t ask that question.’ A light went off, and I said, ‘The Bible doesn’t make sense. Science makes much more sense to me.’ And I just gravitated away from religion.”2

If only these folk had found the sorts of reliable, simple answers that are available on creation.com to their troublesome questions about science and faith.

To my knowledge, and I could be wrong, Jesus never tried to “save” or have a relationship with his “creation” by lecturing them about what happened in Genesis chapters 1–2. He was actually more concerned with what happened in chapter 3 and so should we.

It is very clear that Jesus believed Genesis because He often referred to Moses’ writings and took them as historical and authoritative (e.g. Matthew 5:17; 24:37–39; Luke 16:29). He also began with Moses to explain His mission as Saviour of the world (Luke 24:27). And the Jews that were Jesus’ main audience would have taken for granted all of that important background history—our descent from a real man and woman, the man’s Fall into sin, the subsequent Curse on creation bringing about death and suffering, and so on. That Genesis history explains how sin and death entered the world, and it is sin and death that are the reasons Christ came to die. Today, when we talk about the Gospel without that vital background which Jesus’ hearers all knew and understood, it is like a sower throwing seed upon hard ground—the Gospel makes no real sense without it.

It is still the cause of many missing the mark and being “thrown out” of the presence of God. What is it? Simply listening too long to another opinion or “reasoned intellectual argument” that undermined the word of the Creator God.

Agreed. And often these arguments can be subtle and clever, which is why so many young people fall away from the faith when they encounter them in their high school and college courses. And that is why these arguments need to be exposed and answered with reliable information.

Who was this first “intellectual giant” who stole the show away from the Creator and His creation through his cleverly thought out lecture? Yep, that old snake in the grass—Lucifer.

Absolutely.

Now God forbid that we should do the same but we must treat the word of God with the utmost reverence and respect and not start to say “hath God said?” If we all as Bible believers agree that all the scriptures were inspired by God then what He wrote is good enough for me. In the end all our theories will vanish away but the “word of God will never pass away”.

Yes. And it is natural for folk to ask questions. In fact, the Scriptures encourage us to test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Here’s one last thought about trying to interpret the Bible. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit wrote these words then he knows what it means and therefore He’s the one we all need to ask. If there’s going to be no extension to the complete canon of scripture then we’re stuck with what we’ve already been given and in the end that’s all we really need to know—just what the Bible says.

Yes. And it is important that we are open and teachable (Proverbs 2:1–5).

Remember that the Lord God knows exactly how long he took to create everything and then he said through the prophet Isaiah “as high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways from being found out”. Ok then—six days will be fine by me.

He knows. He has told us. And His Word makes sense of the world around us.

Tas Walker

Related Articles

Further Reading

References

  1. David Williamson, famous Australian playwright. The Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Magazine p.7, 9th January 2005. Return to text.
  2. Interview in Parade Magazine 30 Sep 09 <http://www.parade.com/news/2009/09/13-dan-brown-life-after-da-vinci-code.html> Return to text.

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