Biblical Creation: A Brief Overview

The Biblical Account of Creation

The Bible states in Genesis 1 and 2 that God was the Creator of all that exists in the physical realm and that He did not rely on time and chance for the completion of His work. Genesis 1 also gives an understandable time reference, indicating that His work was completed in six 24-hour days by concluding each with the words: "and the evening and the morning were the first day" (2nd, 3rd, etc.). Five of the six days ended with God calling His creation "good". Each day of Creation consisted of specific miraculous events that did not rely on a natural cause.

Day 1 Genesis 1:1-5 NIV
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day", and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.

Day 6 Genesis 1:24-27 NIV
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day.

The Biblical account of Creation states the following:

The events described in Genesis 1-11 come under intense criticism by Old Earth Creationists (OEC's) and evolutionists (EV's) when a literal interpretation is applied. Therefore, it is important to have a basic understanding of the intent of the original language. Did the author of Genesis (considered to be Moses under inspiration of the Holy Spirit) intend that a "day" was to be considered as we know it, or could it be interpreted as a varying period of time? Was the Flood universal, covering all of the mountain ranges? Was there a Garden of Eden, a Fall, and a Tower of Babel?

The following very specifically addresses the intended meaning of the text with supporting comments by a leading expert in the Hebrew language.

Probably, as far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained on the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the 'days' of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.
James Barr, Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Oxford Quoted in Creation Ministries International

If we are to believe that the Bible is true as written, understanding the intent of the author of Genesis becomes an important first step in support of that belief. Was the intent to understand scripture as literal history or as a spiritual framework to support eons for the age of the Universe and an evolutionary process that created ever-increasing complexity?

The intent of the early chapters of Genesis is to convey truth. Critics of a literal interpretation may try to justify an old Earth with the idea that the chapters should be read as allegory to teach spiritual lessons, or by simply denying the existence of God. Despite the effort to show otherwise, there is no way to read Genesis other than as it is plainly written.

Biblical Chronology for the age of the earth

A chronology for the age of the Earth can be established by beginning with the six days of Genesis. Although a young Earth will be in conflict with eons cited by evolutionary theory, faith in Biblical inerrancy begins with the historic account.

Adam and Eve were formed on Day 6 of Creation week, that being in the first year of time as we understand it. God's history of humanity prior to the Flood is recorded in Genesis 5:1, beginning with the verse: "This is the book of the generations of Adam." Following Adam, nine specific "generations" are identified, ending with Noah. An exact chronological starting point is established in Genesis 5:3 which gives assurance that the days of Genesis 1 should not be interpreted as great ages:

Genesis 5:3-5 NIV
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image, and he named him Seth. 4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. 5 Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

With the birth of Seth occurring 130 years after the creation of Adam, the birth and death years for the successive generations in chapter 5 can be calculated, establishing the year of the Flood as 1,656 years from the beginning of time. The rest becomes mathematics, using both Old and New Testament chronologies. Based on the preceding, a Biblical age for the earth can be estimated at approximately ~6,000 to ~6,500 years.

A question often asked is, "If the earth is actually very young, why does it look old?"

Something to think about when considering the age of the earth

Time is something learned at an early age and the awareness of its importance increases as our years advance. Time might be considered as both fixed and relative. The fixed attribute of time consists of minutes, hours, days, and years; all of which cannot be changed. Fixed time guides us in the keeping of appointments, calculating the years until graduation, and remembering birthdays, deadlines and all other nuances of life. Our lives operate in fixed time.

Relative time could be defined as our perception of age or ages; an understanding that may be helpful as we consider the age of the Earth. An age might be thought of as a span of time spent in our youthful years, or the period when our family was young; all of which are related to seasons of time which are not specifically fixed in numbers of years. Relative time is a product of our learned perspective. Solomon seems to define these "ages" in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; referencing vv. 1-4 below:

1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Evolutionary education claims that the Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, and the age of the Universe as 13+ billion years. Based on ideas presented at various stages of learning, our perspective of relative time and our world view may have convinced us that the Earth "appears" to be very old. A trip to the Grand Canyon might serve as an example that this geologic wonder was carved over millions of years. The concept, as recited by the tour guides, is accepted without questioning what an old or a young Earth might actually look like. But, have we considered the evidence?

Mt. St. Helens and Catastrophism, an article by Steven A. Austin, Ph.D. writing for the Institute for Creation Research, describes how a perspective of evolutionary ages are challenged by observing the evidence rather than trusting indoctrinated notions. In May of 1980, a catastrophic volcanic explosion occurred in the state of Washington that dramatically changed the region's appearance in just several days. The eruption and its aftermath carved a 1/40th scale of the Grand Canyon, giving the appearance that the topography was formed over millions of years rather than by a recent event. An excellent DVD entitled Mt. St. Helens has been produced by Dr. Austin which introduces verifiable evidence that demonstrates how perceptions may change when the evidence is analyzed objectively using scientific methodology.

click Mt. St. Helens image to enlarge
Image and article courtesy of Wikipedia

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens and the devastation that followed pales when compared to the Biblical Flood. The fountains of the deep, volcanic activity, and forty days of rain produced waters that churned for a year, covering all the mountains and dramatically altering the surface of the Earth. If the topographical ravages caused by the Flood are considered, our planet may not seem old. Rather, the evidence may justify a historic catastrophic event that has rearranged the Earth's surface and buried fossils throughout the stratified sediment.

Surtsey Island, located off the coast of Iceland, is also an example that the perception of age could be misleading. Surtsey was created between 1963 and 1967 by the eruption of an underwater volcanic system that penetrated the surface. The island continued to develop bird and plant life, giving the appearance of being "very old."

It may be tempting at times to suggest that God could have created the earth to look old. To the contrary, however, God does not reveal His work by deception. Believers who are equipped with compelling evidence can present a reasonable argument in support of a young earth.

One final question on the geologic age of the earth: Setting aside radiometric dating methods and their "accuracy" for the moment: How different does a ~6500 year old Earth look when compared to a 4.6b year old Earth? Has it ever been possible to see both for comparison?

Does natural history and the history of man provide clues for a young or an old earth?

Archaeologists have determined that recorded history is estimated to have begun at approximately ~3500 BC with cuneiform writing, developed by the Sumerian culture according to non-Biblical dating.

The Sumerian archaic cuneiform and the Egyptian hieroglyphs are generally considered the earliest writing systems, both emerging out of their ancestral proto-literate symbol systems from 3400-3200 BC with earliest coherent texts from about 2600 BC.

The above article also discusses what are termed "proto-history" and "proto-writing", which supposedly preceded the actual development of a formal writing system. The time-scales for both, and for recorded history as well, would still place "early humans" as having emerged no more than 10-12,000 years before the present time. As with all concepts associated with evolution, Biblical history tells a much different story. Adam and Eve were created by God, fully formed, articulate, and endowed with advanced intelligence in a very recent past. To be more explicit, there was no "evolutionary" development of verbal and written communication systems other than what is familiar to us today. Based on the long ages generally required by evolutionary beliefs, consider that even a brief hypothetical period of 12,000 years would not be sufficient to "evolve" non-intelligent to intelligent humans and yield the incredible engineering feats that can be observed in antiquity.

Structures created by the inhabitants of the ancient world follow an age pattern similar to that of recorded history. The Pyramids of Djoser and Giza are identified as some of the oldest structures, dating to ~2600 BC. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are all young when compared to evolutionary ages. These incredible architectural and engineering feats emerged at the very dawn of civilization as we know it. It appears that records of advanced civilizations beyond 6,000 years into the past are non-existent. Could man's intelligence have accelerated in such a relatively short period from primitive creatures to highly organized societies capable of building structures that even today are considered marvels of engineering?

Adam and the generations before the Flood were certainly gifted by God with a high degree of intellect and engineering skills. Those skills would not have been lost on Noah and his family as they emerged from the Ark to fulfill God's mandate to re-populate the earth. It should be expected that man's creative desires would couple with God-given inspiration and imagination to build cities and the infrastructure to support the exponential population explosion. God created man in His image and in His likeness according to Genesis 1:26. God Himself is a Creator and we can be assured that the characteristics of God were instilled in Adam, His highest creation.

One final comment on the age of still living organisms:

The bristlecone pine is the oldest living organism, with "Methuselah", the grandfather of the species, estimated at an age of 4,789 years. Select the image for more information

The earth leaves silent traces of its history to those who wish to find it. Mankind's sudden appearance, intact with intelligence and advanced skills, should not present a puzzle to those who believe that the early books of Genesis are to be read as history.

Young and Old Earth Creationism

Theologians continue to debate the Genesis Creation account and whether the referenced "periods" should be interpreted as eons or six 24-hour days. Christian scholars who support long ages, referred to as Old Earth Creationists (OEC) have a greater compatibility with evolutionists than with Young Earth Creationists (YEC). Among the OEC creation accounts are: the Gap Theory, Progressive Creation, the Framework Theory, Evolutionary Creation, and some mix of those mentioned. Most hold to the view that Genesis 1 and 2 may be read as allegory rather than history and the term "Day" was used to express eons rather than a 24-hour period. OEC philosophy may also accept the idea that the Flood was local (not world wide.) The idea that there is scriptural support for an old Earth sows confusion regarding the "when" and "how" of the creation (or evolution) of Adam and Eve, the Fall, the Flood, and many other events in Genesis chapters 1-11. An example of a purely subjective OEC interpretation of scripture suggests that Adam and Eve either evolved from humanoid creatures or God created them in some ambiguous time period represented as the sixth "Day" of Genesis.

The Bible, including the early chapters of Genesis, was written for people from all walks of life, most of whom have no extensive "theological" background. The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and written in words that are plainly understood. If the very first chapters are to be read as allegory, why would anyone believe that what follows is true?

When the foundations are being destroyed, What can the righteous do? Psalm 11:3 NIV

The OEC view instills doubt of a clear interpretation of God's word and is one of the contributing factors to the increasing number of young people who walk away from the faith. Ken Ham, President of Answers in Genesis, discusses the subject of this generational spiritual calamity in his book, Already Gone. Although proponents of long ages may believe that they are simply presenting the truth, their version of the truth contradicts a straight forward teaching of scripture.

OEC's will often accuse Young Earth Creationists of mis-interpreting scripture to support a recent Creation compared to evolutionary ages. An example of an OEC argument is given in the web publication below with a subjective interpretation of Genesis:

Toward this end, recent advances in molecular genetics are quite provocative. As Hugh Ross and I discuss in "Who Was Adam?", numerous studies indicate that humanity originated: (1) recently (around 100,000 years ago, plus or minus 20,000 years or so): ........
These astounding results harmonize with a traditional reading of the Biblical account of human origins, and suggest that Adam and Eve likely existed as real persons who gave rise to all of humanity.

Were They Real? The Scientific Case for Adam and Eve, Reasons to Believe, Fazale Rana, October 1, 2010

Comment: A reading of the entire article may sow more confusion than enlightenment on the interpretation of the 6th day of Creation and the entrance of Adam and Eve into the world. How the article even suggests to harmonize origins with a "traditional" understanding of Genesis should follow with what the author means by traditional.

Scriptural Authority

An acceptance of scriptural authority is necessary when attempting to understand the creation/evolution controversy. The Bible is without error and applicable to all areas of our lives. Based on that truth, we also accept that God created the principles of science. Although there are areas beyond our understanding, the Bible and science will be shown not to be in conflict as both are studied objectively.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV

It should also be understood that belief in a YEC or an OEC is not a requirement for salvation. Salvation is only through Christ's death on the cross as payment for our sins:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 NIV

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