“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. That’s the opening line of Genesis. But how old is the earth? Where did everything come from? And are we all just evolved beings from a totally different species? The doctrine of creation is a big topic for debate among Christians and non-Christians alike.
Gen. 1:1a:“In the beginning God created”
“The Bible exists not to tell us as much how the heavens go, but rather to tell us how to go to heaven.” - Galileo
Chapter 1:2a of Genesis then declares, “Now the earth was formless and empty”
#1 Historic creationism: teaches that the earth is very old, or older than human life, and that the earth was created at some point in eternity past. And then over the course of six days God prepared the earth for human life. Teaches that the six days in creation are literal, and the earth is old and that humanity is young. That’s historical creationism, traced all the way back to Augustine.
#2 Young earth creationism: teaches God made everything in six days, including the heavens and the earth.
That the earth didn’t exist for an indefinite period of time before God made man and woman and put them on the earth, that God created everything in six literal days. Therefore, the earth is very young and human life is also very young, and the six days of creation in Genesis 1 are very literal.
#3 Gap theory: teaches the earth is very old and that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
That in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and then they would insert that a great calamity struck the earth – maybe Satan and demons being kicked out of heaven – and that the earth was destroyed. And then God had to recreate everything beginning in Genesis 1:2. And then God created a new humanity with Adam and Eve. And they would say there’s a big gap, maybe of billions of years, between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Therefore, they would say that the earth is very old and humanity as we now know it is very young. But this is perhaps the second successive human life creation order of God.
That there would be people who existed and then were destroyed, and then with Adam and Eve God created again human life on the earth.
#4 Literary framework view: the earth is very old, humanity is very young, and that Genesis 1 and 2 is poetic and we’re not to take it literally, as literal 24-hour days. It’s a poetic figure of speech; it’s a figurative framework. And truthfully Genesis 1 and 2 does include poetry. It is poetic in nature.
#5 Day-age View: the earth is old, humanity is young, and the six days in Genesis 1 are not literal days. They’re extended, long periods of time.
#6 Theistic evolution: evolution is right, but behind evolution was God, and that God was working through the evolutionary process, that the earth is very old, that human life may be young or old, but God is still at work, sovereign over, working through evolutionary process and means.
CREATION REFLECTS GOD…
#1 God is eternally uncaused and exists before the creation.
#2 God is living and life comes from God.
#3 God is independent, while the rest of creation is dependent on him.
#4 God is transcendent and separate from his creation.
#5 God is imminent and actively involved in his creation.
#6 God is personal, and because God has made us, we have personhood. We’re not things, we’re people. And there’s personality because God has made us and he is personal.
#7 God is powerful and made everything from nothing by himself.
#8 God is beautiful and creation reflects the beauty of God.
#9 God is orderly and his creation is orderly until sin enters into the equation, thereby marring all that God has made orderly.
#10 God is good and everything he makes he declares to be good.
#11 God is gracious and he blesses his creation.
The Bible isn’t concerned about the age of the earth. It’s concerned about God the Creator and what he did to create and to prepare the earth for human habitation.
As Christians we do not reject science, we reject naturalism…
Naturalism is the belief that there is no God and the world is a closed system and that God had nothing to create what is in the world and God never intervenes in the world.
We reject naturalistic atheism.
We do not reject science.
Naturalism is the belief that all phenomena can be explained in terms of presently operating natural causes and laws. The only true knowledge is that which comes through observable experiments.
When natural science is the arbiter of all truth claims, religion becomes superstition and God is omitted from discussion.
The Bible teaches that creation in general and human life in particular were made by God, belong to God, exist for God, are restless apart from God, and will return to God.
If you do not believe in the doctrine of creation…
You likely believe that you came from no one, you are alive on the earth for nothing, and that when you die you will go nowhere.
The atheistic philosopher Bertrand Russell summarizes this worldview:
“Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand."
Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of the unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
The only logical option apart from the biblical doctrine of creation is “the firm foundation of the unyielding despair.”
Richard Dawkins evolutionary biologist was asked if his view of reality made him depressed, he replied, “I don’t feel depressed about it. But if somebody does, that’s their problem. Maybe the logic is deeply pessimistic, the universe is bleak, cold and empty. But so what?
If there is no one coming to rescue me, And there is no better place to which I can escape at the end of this life, Then once the pain of this life gets too much to bear, I should simply hasten the inevitable. And many do.
But God…In varying ways interlocks his heaven with his creation.
N.T. Wright says that for the Christian, “the creation of the world was the free outpouring of God’s powerful love. . . . And, having made such a world, he has remained in a close, dynamic, and intimate relationship with it, without in any way being contained within it or having it contained within himself.”
Therefore, the doctrine of creation sets the stage for the coming of Jesus Christ.
God becomes a man who is our creator amidst his creation.
He comes to connect heaven and earth through himself as the mediator between the two.
He comes on a rescue mission to save us from “unyielding despair” by dying for us, placing his own Spirit in us, and promising to return one day to rescue creation so that it is no longer “bleak, cold, and empty.”
Just as he took a barren wasteland and prepared it for our first parents, he will again prepare creation for his people…
And rather than saying “so what?” to our pain, the Bible promises that he will wipe every tear from our eyes.