The Genesis Account of Creation vs. Theistic Evolution
by Brad T. Bromling, M.A.
Genesis contains most of what the Bible reveals on the origin of the Universe. Because of its significance, the Genesis account occupies a central position in discussions of the origin and development of life. While the Bible-believer accepts it as the only reliable record of Creation, the atheist dismisses and ridicules Genesis as unscientific Jewish folklore. There is a third view, however, which asserts that evolution is compatible with the Bible. This position (known as theistic evolution) is especially dangerous because it forces the biblical record into an impossible compromise. The claim that "evolution and the Bible show amazing agreement on almost all issues and that one is not mutually exclusive of the other" (Clayton, 1990, p 135) is contradicted by an objective investigation of the evidence. This contradiction is perhaps best seen when one soberly examines the first two chapters of Genesis. This article will review each day of the creation week and show that the inspired record refuses to conform to the humanistic theory of evolution, and that it does not contain the errors its critics allege. As this is done, it will be evident that God wrote of His Creation in such a way as to remove the possibility of compromise.
THE CREATION WEEK
The creation activities were structured along the sevenfold pattern of a week. The import of this fact is found in the midst of the decalogue:Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. ...For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).
God patterned the Israelite's week after His creative week. It is in contradiction to the truth to say, as does Bruce Vawter: "The biblical writer has pictured God as going about his work like a faithful jew..." (1977, p 61). God said He did His work (of creation) in six days and rested, and that He expected the same of the Jews; what could be clearer? God could very well have created the Universe in six millennia, six centuries, six decades, six weeks, six hours, six minutes, six seconds, or even six nanoseconds, but God said He did it in six days.
The work of day one at first appears to include only the creation of light. However, if in keeping with Exodus 20:11 all things were created within this week, then day one actually begins in verse one, with the creation of the watery void called "Earth." Besides the initial creation of the Earth in a waste and void (i.e., unformed and unfilled) condition on day one, the Creator also calls light out of nowhere into existence. Henry Morris suggests what this may have involved:It is obvious that visible light is primarily meant, since it was set in contrast to darkness. At the same time, the presence of visible light waves necessarily involves the entire electromagnetic spectrum.... In turn, setting the electromagnetic forces into operation in effect completed the energizing of the physical cosmos. All the types of force and energy which interact in the universe involve only electromagnetic, gravitational, and nuclear forces; and all these had now been activated (1976, p 56).
Moses makes no excuses for teaching that light existed prior to the luminaries. H.C. Leupold appropriately comments, "If scientists now often regard light as merely enveloping the Sun but not as an intrinsic part of it, why could it not have existed by itself without being localized in any heavenly body?" (1942, p 55).
The discussion of day one concludes with the phrase, "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (ASV). Many have taken this to mean that the creation days were reckoned from evening to evening in keeping with the Hebrew custom. However, this view, "...fails utterly, because verse 5 reports the conclusion of this day's work not its beginning" (Leupold, p 56). Thomas Aquinas agrees and explains further:The reason for mentioning the evening first is that as the evening ends the day, which begins with the light, the termination of the light at evening precedes the termination of the darkness, which ends with the morning (`Summa I,' p 377).
Derek Kidner comments: "The [King James Version's] `the evening and the morning were' gives the misleading impression that the reckoning starts with evening. Rather translate it `evening came and morning came'..." (1967, p 47). These considerations lead to the conclusion that the days of the Earth's first week were not reckoned according to Hebrew custom (from sunset to sunset) or like the current practice (from midnight to midnight), but instead from sunrise to sunrise ("" is used figuratively for days one to three since the Sun was not created until day four). Keil concurs: "The first day commenced at the moment when God caused the light to break forth from the darkness..." (1980, p 51). This point is significant when one considers the false charge that God is here pictured as going about His activities as a faithful Jew. This is further proof that Genesis 1 is not Hebrew myth; for what spinner of Jewish folklore would dream of Jehovah beginning His days in the morning?
The second day has to do with the creation of the firmament. The primitive concept involved in the word "firmament" is: "beaten out, stamped (as of metal), suggesting a thin sheet stretched out to form, the vault of the sky" (Speiser, 1964, p 6). Liberals take pleasure in pointing this out as an indication of the Hebrews' "pre-scientific view of the universe" (Murray and Buffaloe, 1981, p 10). This view, it is alleged, involves a belief that the sky was a solid structure which rested upon the mountains. This notion is based upon the very troublesome assumption that the word "firmament" was intended (by Moses) to convey the meaning the liberals have assigned to it; but the Hebrew word may be better translated "expanse" (Wilson, p 166). In his typically concise way, W.E. Vine stresses:While this English word is derived from the Latin `firmamentum' which signifies firmness or strengthening ...the Hebrew word, `raqia', has no such meaning, but denoted the "expanse," that which is stretched out. Certainly the sky was not regarded a s a hard vault in which the heavenly orbs were fixed.... There is therefore nothing in the language of the original to suggest that the writers [of the Old Testament---BTB] were influenced by the imaginative ideas of heathen nations (1981, p 67).
Moses elaborates by stating one of the functions of the firmament. It was intended to serve as a divider between the atmospheric and the terrestrial waters. Here too, the liberals suppose they have grist for their mills. In their minds, Genesis reads like a pagan myth. Murray and Buffaloe allege: "The Genesis account explains that there is a vast reservoir of water collected above the dome (`firmament'), which of course is how ancient peoples accounted for rainfall" (p 10). The question must be raised as to where Genesis "explains" anything concerning a "vast reservoir of water." The text simply states that a division was accomplished between the waters above and below the sky (firmament). Water vapor is an important component of the atmosphere, and there is nothing in Moses' words to suggest that he necessarily had reference to any more than that. Some scholars have suggested that a canopy of water vapor enveloped the antediluvian world and caused a globally temperate climate to prevail (e.g., Bixler, 1986). While the Vapor Canopy Theory is not inconsistent with the phrase "waters above," other passages would have to be considered in order to support the theory. With these acts of creation finished, evening falls and morning returns---completing day two.
Day three brings to view a more familiar Earth, one composed of land, sea, and vegetation. At first mention, the Earth was a formless, watery object; now, in addition to illumination and atmosphere, the forming planet is given the feature of dry land. Evolutionary science offers a different view altogether. Isaac Asimov explains, "The Bible makes it seem that solid land appeared out of an initial liquid mass, but from the scientific view, it would seem that an ocean appeared out of an initial dry mass" (1981, p 38). This is an unambiguous example of the insuperable conflicts between evolution theory and revealed truth. The Bible says water first, then land; evolution says land first, then water. How can one agree with evolution on this point without flatly rejecting divine testimony?
The third day poses another conflict with evolution. After the dry land appears, God commands: "Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit trees..." (Genesis 1:11). Evolution places the origin of life in the seas, but Moses says the earth was to put forth the first life forms! Asimov claims that, "In fact, for some three billion years, the sea contained life while the land was sterile" (p 49). Derek Kidner conveys the exciting tone of the literal Hebrew rendering of this verse: "Let the earth vegetate vegetation, herb seeding seed, fruit tree making fruit after its kind" (1967, p 48). Does this sound like a gradual process requiring untold millennia to accomplish?
According to Moses, each form of life is to bring forth (reproduce) "after its kind." This cripples the notion that all life is somehow related biologically thanks to a parental process of organic evolution. Moses says there are boundaries between the different kinds of organisms. Despite the charges of uninformed critics, Moses did not teach "fixity of species;" instead he taught "fixity of kinds." While the species barrier is sometimes crossed in breeding, the "kinds" barrier is not. A precise definition of "kinds" is uncertain; however, the Bible student need not be concerned over this uncertainty. The man- made taxonomical system is no less at a loss to strictly define the common categories with which it works (see Hardin, 1966, p 198). As with days one and two, the creative activity is followed by an evening and a morning---thus completing day three.
Day four is somewhat unique among the other days of creation. For the first time the Earth is not the direct object of the action of God. Instead, the divine attention is directed to the creation and ordination of the heavenly bodies which surround the Earth. By His omnipotence God speaks the planets and stars into being. From man's standpoint they are lights in space. They do not appear to the unaided eye as anything else; so there is no need (in this context) for Moses to discuss them in any other way. Earth's exalted status is portrayed in the fact that the stars and planets were brought into existence for the benefit of the Earth. This is far different from the view that says Earth is little more than a cosmic accident!
These luminaries are to accomplish three specific purposes: (1) they are to regulate between day and night; (2) they are to be indicators of signs and seasons. [This seems to imply that a study of the regularities of these bodies would enable man to calibrate his activities against a cosmic standard. The superstitions of astrology are not under consideration here, only the beneficial results of astronomy.] (3) the light-bearers are to give light upon the Earth. Although they are not called by name, the Sun and Moon are discussed in particular. The Sun, which is greater in its intensity of light, is responsible for illuminating the realm of day. The Moon, which only reflects light (thus the "lesser" light), is given the function of providing the majority of nighttime illumination.
Again, theistic evolutionists are embarrassed with the fact that evolution teaches a different order of events. Asimov notes that Genesis:...makes it clear that Earth is older than any of the heavenly bodies.... The scientific view is quite different. The formation of the solar system out of the original cloud was of such a nature that all its bodies were formed at essentially the same time. The sun, moon, and all the planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets are essentially the same age; each one is about 4.6 billion years old (p 47).
Where is the harmony between evolution and Genesis?
One cannot help but be impressed with the offhand manner with which the creation of the stars is mentioned. It is almost as if Moses is saying with nonchalance, "Oh, by the way, the stars are also the handiwork of God." This strikes a contemptuous blow against those in ancient times who elevated the stars to the position of deity! Evening and morning came, and day four was finished.
The planet is now a fit home for animal life. On day five God speaks into existence all manner of sea life and creatures of flight. The seas are to "swarm with swarms of living creatures" (ASV); this conveys a feeling of immediacy. No long, gradual process is here intimated; the command is urgent. The creation of birds is spoken of in like terms: "and let birds fly above the earth...." The Creator brings His creatures into being capable of functioning in their determined roles. Fish are created swimming; birds are created flying. As with the vegetation which preceded, the creatures of day five are to reproduce after their kinds. Evolution teaches that birds are the biological descendants of reptiles, which descended from amphibians, which descended from sea creatures (Simpson and Beck, 1965, pp 608- 623). However, Moses says that birds and fish were created at the same time. Once again evolution and Genesis are irreconcilable. Once again, evening falls and morning returns, thus concluding the fifth day.
"Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind," thunders the Creator. Complete and immediate obedience is the response reflected in the pithy phrase: "And it was so." These three terms (i.e., cattle, creeping things, and the beasts of the earth) are obviously intended to encompass the whole animal kingdom, excluding only the creatures of day five, and man. There is no doubt that the creatures of days five and six included the multitudes of currently extinct animals (e.g., dinosaurs) with which the fossil record is replete. There is no justification for the notion that dinosaurs inhabited an Earth which was destroyed before the Genesis week of creation (see Thompson, 1977, pp 167-200).
The Earth is finally in a state of readiness for the crowning glory of all creation---mankind. The creation of man differs from that of all other life in at least the following ways. First, a divine conference precedes the forming of man. Second, man is created in the "image of God." Third, man is said to have been "formed" by God, and not commanded to appear. Fourth, life is "breathed" into man by God. Fifth, the sexes of mankind are not created simultaneously, as in the case of the rest of Earth's life. Sixth, the first female is "built" from a section of the first male's "flesh and bone." Whereas evolution portrays man as simply an advanced member of the animal kingdom, these facts speak eloquently of man's complete separation from the animal realm. Man must be very careful not to minimize his importance (see Psalm 8). These considerations are contradicted by all stripes of evolution. One cannot escape a confrontation with them if he is to claim that there is "amazing agreement" between evolution and the Bible.
Unlike any of the other creatures, man alone bears a special resemblance to God. The meaning of the terms "in His image" and "after His likeness" has occupied the minds of scholars since time immemorial. Thomas Aquinas offers the following thoughtful explanation: "The image implies an intelligent being endowed with free choice and self- movement" (`Summa II', p 609). This explanation is consistent with divine revelation, but one further point should be added. The spirit of man which expresses itself through these capacities for reasoning and independent volition, is not limited to them. James' statement that the body without the spirit is dead teaches, by implication, that as long as there is life in a human body, its spirit is also present (James 2:26).
After Adam named the animals which the Creator brought to him, his lack of human companionship became evident. Unlike the animals, which all had mates that were "meet" (i.e., suitable) for each other, Adam was alone. God evaluates the situation as "not good" and takes the necessary action to resolve the problem. The man is put to sleep while God removes a rib from his side (the Bible is silent as to which side), and God "builds" from it the first woman. Following this operation, God presents Adam with his wife. Adam's response seems full of excitement: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man." Adam had earlier called the animals various names apparently corresponding to his perception of them; now, he calls his helpmeet, "Woman" because he correctly perceives that she was taken from him. It is not until after the expulsion from the garden that the name "Eve" is given.
How will the theistic evolutionist attempt to harmonize this account with evolution? With the creation of mankind now complete, evening falls and morning returns, concluding the sixth day.
The seventh day follows as a day of rest for God. Little is said concerning this day; only two verses are devoted to it. Obviously, this was not a period of rest allotted to overcome exhaustion since omnipotence is not wearied by activity. Day seven was simply a day enjoyed by the Creator in which He refrained from further creation. There can be no sound argument advanced to suggest that the seventh day is continuing to the present or that it was a day different from the six that preceded it. The fact that God patterned the Israelite's week and Sabbath after His week and Sabbath removes such notions from the realm of serious consideration.
It does not seem that the text could be more explicit than it is on the length and order of creation. In fact, it is certainly valid to inquire as to how the critics of creationism would have had God phrase His creation narrative if He had desired to teach a creation week composed of seven literal, twenty-four hour days. Hear the Lord's own summary of His creative acts: "For in six days Jehovah made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:11). The question should be asked, "What is wrong with the way God said God did it?"
Clearly, a choice must be made: creation or evolution. If one accepts evolution, he has thereby rejected the Genesis account of creation. The notion that evolution and the Bible may be harmonized is unfounded, untrue, and undermines faith in the inerrancy of Holy Writ.
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