The Book of Genesis presents a disturbing problem for many Bible-believing Christians. Did God really create the heaven and the earth in just six 24-hour days? How does a serious student of the Torah - the five books of Moses - reconcile the Genesis account with the "billions of years" encountered in the dictums of astronomy, geology, et al?
Many continue to attempt to circumvent the problem by assuming that the six days represent "geological eras," or that the traditional text is simply a rhetorical "framework" for a literary summary of the creative process. Various forms of "theistic evolution" have been contrived in attempts to reconcile the Biblical text with the various theories and conjectures which dominate our evolution-based society.
However, the sincere student cannot escape the confrontations which result from the straightforward reading of the text with the ostensible declarations of "science." How can we deal with these fundamental issues?
Why Is It So Critical?
There are four basic questions that confront all of us: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die?
And your eternal destiny will be determined by your "world view" in addressing these issues. And there are really only two world-views: either everything - including you - is the result of some kind of cosmic accident, or this is all the result of a deliberate design by a Designer.
This issue could not be more fundamental to everything. It comes as a shock to many to discover that every major theme and doctrine in the Bible has its roots in this "Book of Beginnings": sovereign election; salvation, justification by faith, believer's security, separation, disciplinary chastisement, the Divine Incarnation, the "rapture" of the church, death and resurrection, the priesthoods (both Aaronic and Melchizedekian), the Antichrist, and even the Palestinian Covenant that is being challenged by the continuing tensions throughout the world today all have their roots in this critical foundational book of the Bible. And each of these issues also has its consummation in the Book of (the) Revelation. (Like every good textbook, the answers are always in the back!)
Who Really Wrote the Torah?
There are those who have suggested the books of Moses were actually compilations by a number of redactors over the years - the common "Documentary Hypothesis" being one of the most prevalent theories. Fortunately, these previously popular notions have been thoroughly shredded by competent scholarship. But allow me to save you many hours of boring library research. I know who wrote the Books of Moses: Moses did. How do I know? Jesus Christ Himself said so! Many times.1
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? - John 5:45-47
Jesus quotes from each of the books of the Torah and attributes them each to Moses. The New Testament includes 165 direct quotes (and over 200 allusions) to the Book of Genesis, and over 100 of these are from the first 11 chapters. These include the Creator and the creation, 2 (and allusions3), creation of man and woman,4 the fall of man,5 the Flood of Noah,6 etc. So if you believe in Jesus Christ, you have no problem as to who wrote the Book of Genesis. (And if you don't believe in Jesus Christ, you have much bigger problems than the authorship of Genesis!)
But "Six Days"?
The account of the creation of the universe in six days still is a "bone in the throat" to many Christians. Many point out that the word for "day" is yom , and is translated to 54 other words; however, 1181 of 1480 occurrences it is "day," and when used with a number it is always a literal day. But the real problem isn't the account in Genesis. It is in Exodus. In the middle of the Ten Commandments, the Creator Himself wrote it with His own finger in stone!
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. - Exodus 20:11
It is undeniable that God intended us to understand that it was, indeed, six literal days. So how do we deal with the common understanding that "billions of years" was involved? How do we deal with the astronomical distances of millions of "light years" between the galaxies of the universe? Can anyone familiar with the discoveries of modern science take the Genesis account seriously?
It may come as a pleasant surprise to discover that the more you know about modern science - the real physics, not the mythology and conjectures that masquerade as "science" - the more you can take the Biblical text seriously. The Lord always rewards the diligent. (A recent book includes articles by fifty top scientists - from many different fields of specialization - who declare why they believe in a literal six-day creation. 7)
The Nature of Time
One of the many advantages that 20th century science has given us is that, thanks to Dr. Albert Einstein's brilliant discoveries, we now know that time is a physical property and is subject to mass, acceleration, and gravity. We have come to realize that we live in a four-dimensional continuum properly known as "space-time." (This is what Paul seems to imply in his letter to the Ephesians!8) It is interesting that when one takes the apparent 1012 expansion factor involved in the theories of the "expanding universe," that an assumed 16 billion years reduce to six days!
Furthermore, the astronomical timetables now seem to be entirely overturned with the reluctant acknowledgments that the speed of light is not longer regarded as the constant that the high priests of physics had been previously convinced of.
The Nature of Light
Not only have recent scientific articles highlighted the discoveries that the speed of light has changed over the centuries (something that Barry Setterfield has been declaring for decades) the very nature of light has ripped open the entire world of quantum physics that has shattered our concepts of reality itself.
The changes in the velocity of light not only impacts our understanding of the astronomical distances and properties, it affects the atomic behavior involved in the red shift of spectra, the reliability of radiological dating, etc. It is the peculiar properties of photons themselves that continue to astonish the quantum physicists wrestling with the very nature of our physical existence. It is now recognized that subatomic particles lack a property known as "locality." All subatomic particles are now understood to be immediately connected. There is a simultaneity - a "non-locality" - among all photons that has been confirmed in the laboratory. It now appears that our entire universe may actually be a gigantic hologram of some kind. 9
The Fabric of Space
Most of us assume that space is simply an empty vacuum with nothing "in it." However, it is increasingly evident that even empty space has astonishing properties that have yet to be fully understood. We now know that this "firmament," (raqia ) which the Scripture presents, possesses electromagnetic properties including dielectric permittivity, magnetic permeability, an intrinsic impedance,10 and has an astonishing "zero-point" energy sufficient to keep all the electrons in the entire universe in their orbits.11 The term "stretching the heavens" appears at least 17 times in the Scriptures.12
According to the Scriptures, the heavens can be "torn,"13 "worn out" like a garment,14 "shaken,"15 "burnt up,"16 "split apart" like a scroll,17 rolled up" like a mantle 18 or a scroll.19 The concept of being "rolled up" carries some additional insights. There must be some dimension in which space is "thin." If space can be "bent," there must be a direction it can be bent toward. Thus, this tells us that there must be additional dimensions beyond those of space itself. It is now understood that we live in even more than four dimensions: ten dimensions is the current estimate (which is precisely what Nachmonides concluded in his commentary on Genesis back in the 13th century!) The more we understand from the current perspectives of modern physics, the more comfortable we are with the chronicle in Genesis One.
The Architecture of the Solar System
The more we study our solar system, the more questions get raised. Here, too, the prevailing assumptions that are broadly taught are totally specious. The "Nebular Hypothesis," that the planets were somehow thrown off by the sun, is mathematically untenable. There is no plausible explanation that would support a solar origin of the planets. The sun contains 99.86% of all the mass of the solar system, and yet contains only 1.9% of the angular momentum. The nine planets contain 98.1%. Furthermore, the outer planets are far larger than the inner ones. (Jupiter is 5,750 times as massive as mercury, 2,958 times as massive as Mars, etc.)
There are many other provocative enigmas concerning our planetary history:
o There are three pairs of rapid-spin rates among our planets: Mars and Earth, Jupiter and Saturn, and Neptune and Uranus, are each within 3% of each other. Why?
o Earth and Mars have virtually identical spin axis tilts (about 23.5). Why? (From angular momentum and orbital calculations, it would seem that the three pairs of these planets may have been brought here from elsewhere.)
o Why does Mars have 93% of its craters in one hemisphere and only 7% in the other? It would appear that over 80% occurred within a single half-hour!
It's almost as if God designed it to challenge any naturalistic hypotheses!
"Evening" and "Morning"?
The Hebrew terms, Erev,andBoker, now refer to "evening" and "morning" but their origins remain obscure.Erev designates obscuration, mixture (increasing entropy). The time when encroaching darkness begins to deny the ability to discern forms, shapes, and identities; thus, it becomes a term for twilight or evening.20 This also marks the duration of impurity, when a ceremonially unclean person became clean again,21 and thus, the beginning of the Hebrew day.
Boker is a designation for becoming discernible, distinguishable, visible; perception of order; relief of obscurity (decreasing entropy). It thus is associated with being able to begin to discern forms, shapes, and distinct identities; breaking forth of light; revealing; hence, denotatively, dawn, morning. (As traditional designations for the Hebrew day, technically it would seem to only designate the nighttime hours, but it is used connotatively for the entire calendar day.)
It is noteworthy that neither of these are recorded on the seventh day, and thus their original significance may have been to designate the increments of creation.
There are other questions that arise from the Genesis narrative. When was the earth created? It seems to have preceded the rest of the universe. Surprisingly, there are some cosmologists that are (again) beginning to suspect that the universe may be geocentric after all! How did plants (3rd day) flourish without the sun's photosynthesis (4th day)? When were the angels created? (They apparently witnessed the events of Genesis 1.) 22 When did Satan fall? He had apparently already fallen by Chapter 3.
As we explore these, and other, enigmas that emerge from the Biblical text, let us not confuse the precision of the text with conjectures and mythology that pervades our pagan culture and uninformed classrooms. (It's tragic that we can't insist on evidence-based education for our children rather than the foolishness and dogma that continues to strip them of their God-fearing heritage.)
But the more acquainted you become with the amazing discoveries and insights from the frontiers of science - and are able to dismiss the nonsense that prevails among the uninformed - the more comfortable the Genesis text becomes! We plan to continue this series of articles in the unmitigated aspiration of stimulating you to dig ever deeper into God's inerrant Word!
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We invite you to join us as we go verse by verse through the Book of Genesis. This foundational 24-week study will begin in January, 2004 through our K-Rations tape a week subscription plan as well as through our Berean Online Fellowship.