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Creation, the Flood and other issues from Genesis chapters 1-11
Please click on the following links to go to each section.
- 1. The Wider Issues
- 2. The issues from Genesis Chapters 1-11
- 3. The Temptation
- 4. Is Evolution really a credible explanation of origins?
- 5. Bible Verses about Creation and the Flood
- 6. Does the Genesis Creation account contradict Science?
- 7. Gospel Considerations
- 8. Dinosaurs and the Age of the Earth
- 9. The Flood
- 10. References
1. The Wider Issue2
The first 11 chapters of Genesis (covering largely the creation of heaven and earth and the universal flood) present a history of the world which is substantially different from that generally taught and adopted in 'scientific communities' and most countries and cultures in our age. This can and does cause problems for many Christians. Alternative scripture interpretations have been suggested in attempts to resolve some differences (e.g. theistic evolution, gap theory) but perhaps more commonly the issues are often ignored.
Although much of the debate is focussed on creation and evolution the "problem" (if it is a problem) is not confined to this issue. The generally taught culture is also in opposition to many other statements in the Bible including such aspects such as, for example:
- the existence of an infinite God
- the possibility of prayer
- the existence of a spiritual realm with unseen spiritual beings
- the virgin birth of Jesus
- the miracles of Jesus
- the resurrection and ascension of Jesus
- the final resurrection of the dead (life after death)
- judgement before God and heaven and hell
There is further disagreement over many historical details in the Bible concerning the nation of Israel, despite archaeological findings which support the Bible history in many cases.
There are also many other notable occasions recorded in the Bible which are not explainable by conventional science including, a small selection for example:
- the existence of a race of human giants before the flood and also after (Genesis 6:4)
- the occasion when the firstborn of every family and livestock were killed in one night (Exodus 11:4-6 & 12:12)
- the occasion when God stopped time and the motion of the sun for about a day (Joshua 10:12-14)
- another occasion when God reversed time and the motion of the sun (2 Kings 20:8-12)
- an occasion when God under the hand of Elijah caused a small supply of flour and oil to continue and raised a child from the dead (1 Kings 17:14-22)
- an occasion when God under the hand of Elisha raised a child from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-36)
- a time when Jonah was preserved for three days inside a fish (or resurrected from the dead) (Jonah 1:17 and 2:10)
- the existence of spiritual beings such as angels - which cannot be attributed to evolution since they do not reproduce (Matthew 22:30)
In other words, even if the Genesis account of creation and the flood could be harmonised in some way with evolutionary view of origins in today's culture - or dismissed as actual history by treating it as allegorical, that is not a sufficient solution. There are plenty of other things in the Bible which also cannot be harmonised with evolutionary origins. The existence and actions of God as recorded in the Bible remain beyond the acceptance of any who have not yet known faith and belief in Jesus Christ.
To return to the issue of creation we must also remember that reference to creation by God is not confined to the early chapters of Genesis but is spread right through the entire Bible. Both Old and New Testaments claim that the God is the creator in many verses. Jesus himself also makes reference to creation and the flood. In addition the light that the New Testament brings on creation is that it was actually Jesus himself who performed the act of creation. Combining this with Genesis 1:1,2 we see that the Bible is saying God created the heavens and the earth but that actually God the Son (Jesus) executed the act of creation, under the will and authority of God the Father, and in the power and wisdom of God the Holy Spirit.
In summary, there are many points of conflict between Christian theology (i.e. the Bible) and the general culture which we are exposed to day to day. Attempts to harmonize aspects of the Bible with the present (generally atheistic) scientific and secular culture usually require treating Bible history as allegorical, spiritualising it or adapting the meaning of certain words. Those who do not believe in God inevitably must look to an alternative explanation of origins and this alternative is evolution. The question is for the Christian to be clear on what he or she believes.
2. The issues from Genesis Chapters 1-11
The key issues presented in Genesis chapters 1-11, some of which may challenge the belief of the Christian, are briefly listed below:
- The universe and life started from a specific act of Divine creation
- There was a period for the Divine creation and this is stated as six days
- The date of creation was 'recent' based on the genealogies given
- All life was formed in 'good' condition and did not gradually change into something more advanced over time
- Life was created to reproduce but only after its own 'kind'
- Man and Woman were uniquely created in the image of God and God gave them responsibility over the creation
- Woman was created from man
- Sin and death entered into the creation by the disobedience of the first people (Adam and Eve) destroying the close communion with God that existed before
- Although death would certainly come, lifespans were many times that which is typical today
- All people are descendants of Adam and Eve
- Due to the escalation of evil, God decided to judge the earth by a world wide flood in which only 8 people and two of every sort of land based animal were saved in the ark
- As a result of the flood, all people are descended from Noah's three sons and their wives.
- Due to a further rebellion against God, God separated the people by the confusion of languages
Issues which arise from scientific considerations which also need to be considered in the light of Genesis 1-11 include:
- opinions on the age of the earth
3. The Temptation
In Genesis, the Bible presents the original creation as "good" and also "very good". The meaning of this is that the creation was working as designed, in complete harmony and co-operation with itself and God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned this harmony was lost and the consequences included death, hostility, pain, toil, and other evidences that the creation is no longer completely "good" like thorns on plants. The consequences of sin for man, the animal and plant kingdoms and the whole creation are far more extensive than we often realise. The gospel message is that Jesus has come to reverse this "curse" upon creation and make everything good again. If everything was not originally good then this makes a nonsense of the gospel itself. Colossians 1:20 says that Jesus will reconcile all things to himself by him, whether things on the earth or things in the heavens. This means that his death will reconcile man back to God, man to his fellow man, all creation to man and God, and even reconcile earth to heaven. This is a restoration of harmony between God and creation which existed before sin. God did not create sin!
Adam and Eve, the first people, were created with the capacity for independent choice; they were not robots. Sin came when they chose to disobey God. In fact their sin was really to disbelieve God or effectively call him a liar. This was not a matter of diet: it was a denial of the good character of God. God is the source of truth, righteousness, light and life but Adam and Eve believed a talking snake rather than God.
The story may seem hard to visualise today but we must remember this is God's record of how sin came into the world. It has taken the immense sufferring and death of God's Son including even a breakdown in the Trinity on the cross to overcome sin and death in the creation.
It is to human shame that Adam and Eve failed but no man or woman that has lived since can say that they have not doubted God's word. If we don't believe what God has said we are repeating Adam and Eve's error.
We are not given all the details we might like concerning the temptation. But with some speculation and with Job chapters 1 and 2 in mind it does seem possible that Satan asked God for permission to tempt Adam and Eve. Perhaps a proviso in such permission was that Satan should appear in the form of a serpent rather than a mighty angel to reduce the force of the temptation to that which could and should have been overcome.
4. Is Evolution really a credible explanation of origins?
When challenged over the Bible creation account it is useful to consider whether the alternative evolutionary explanation of origins is any more believable or even scientific?
- There is no known mechanism whereby living cells can originate from chemicals or any dead matter, and if evolution happened why is it not possible to simulate this in a laboratory?
- No (or at least virtually no) known mutation of a living animal has resulted in a beneficial capability. Mutations are invariably damaging to the organism.
- There remains a general absence of intermediate or transnational animals in the fossil evidence.
- The complexity of life even at the level of the cell and the general sophistication of animal and plant features seem to defy the explanation of random origin and natural selection.
- Natural selection and similarly artificial selection are observed to be able to select traits in a species (e.g. different dog breeds) but there is no evidence that even artificial selection can produce traits not present in the original species.
- The theory of evolutionary origins postulates that an event with no obvious cause, estimated to be about 13 billion years ago, has created:
- physical laws
- forces (e.g. gravity, nuclear, electrical, magnetism)
- a universe capable of initiating and sustaining life
- It is estimated that there are about 1 followed by 24 zeros stars in the universe. Our sun generates about 3 followed by 26 zeros in watts of energy. So if our sun is used as an average the universe is generating 3 followed by 50 zeros in watts. And it is doing that after 13 billion years. Is this unappreciably large amount of energy release really credible from any origin that can be explained on the basis of experimental science alone?
5. Bible Verses about Creation and the Flood
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep and God's
Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw the light, and saw that it was good.
God divided the light from the darkness.
The flood was forty days on the earth. The waters increased, and lifted up the ship, and it was lifted up above the earth. The waters
rose, and increased greatly on the earth; and the ship floated on the surface of the waters. The waters rose very high on the earth. All the high mountains
that were under the whole sky were covered. The waters rose fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. All flesh died that moved on the earth,
including birds, livestock, animals, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.
Haven't you known? Haven't you heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn't faint. He isn't
weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
I have made the earth, and created man on it. I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens. I have commanded all their army.
Before the mountains were born, before you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.
Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will endure. Yes, all of
them will wear out like a garment. You will change them like a cloak, and they will be changed.
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who determined its measures, if you know? Or
who stretched the line on it? What were its foundations fastened on? Or who laid its cornerstone."
Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night; who calls for
the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name.
But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.
Mark 10:6 (Jesus speaking)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but
my Father only. "As the days of Noah were, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and
drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn't know until the flood came, and took them
all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be."
Matthew 24:35-39 (Jesus speaking)
Therefore also the wisdom of God said, I will send to them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will kill and persecute, that the
blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation.
Luke 11:49,50 (Jesus speaking)
All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made.
For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even
his everlasting power and divinity, that they may be without excuse.
By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which
6. Does the Genesis Creation account contradict Science?
Here are some issues which show consistency between Genesis Chapters 1-11 and experimental science.
- The complexity of life can only really be logically explained as the result of an original intelligent source. When Charles Darwin proposed his ideas there was hardly any notion of the complexity of DNA, the chemical processes which operate within cells, the advanced design of many organic functions and the way in which so many biological processes rely on multiple features and organs which could not evolve together. Experimental science would not generally support the idea of inter-dependent complexity arising from chance.
- Some living organisms have the ability to survive in conditions so extreme that they have never been encountered on earth. How then can these abilities have arisen from evolutionary selection of the fittest?
- Man himself has abilities which are arguably too sophisticated to be necessary for evolutional survival. So how have these abilities evolved? For example complex language, an understanding of morality and ethics, the ability to create art and the skills to create functionality and beauty, intelligence and an appreciation of spirituality.
- The vast extent of sedimentary rock and the existence of fossils are consistent with a historical period of catstophic flooding. Without special conditions and rapid burial, animals decay or are scavenged and fossils do not occur.
- The so claimed ability of (for example) bacteria and viruses to "evolve" are, when examined, actually examples of the natural or artificial selection of traits that were present in the original population.
- The logic and order we see in the universe and earth is a testimony to the logic and order of a creator and cannot be the result of processes based on chance.
- Studies into Mitochondrial DNA (which is inherited only from the mother) have reported that all women have descended from one woman.
- The possibility of repeatable, experimental science is only based on the notion that the universe operates in accordance to knowable laws and logic. This in itself suggests a wisdom and logic is built into the way the universe exists and behaves.
7. Gospel Considerations
Setting aside any scientific considerations we may also remember that Jesus took a human body when he was born into this world and although Divine, after his death received a new resurrection body with a similar human appearance and he still appears in this form of a man for evermore. Jesus took human form and was the perfect man created in the image of God; the concept that humanity might be continually evolving rather than originally good and now fallen is incompatible with the gospel.
Another gospel implication with evolution is that it requires death to be present from the beginning. The Bible claims death is the result of human sin, so evolution is completely inconsistent with this claim.
8. Dinosaurs and the Age of the Earth
From a Bible perspective, dinosaurs are land animals and therefore the Bible says that they were created along with man on the sixth day of creation. So this places dinosaurs and man together. Although this is completely against the general secular opinion and at first may seem very strange the following considerations are relevant:
- Soft tissue including flesh and red blood cells and even DNA have been found in some cases along with dinosaur bone fossils. If dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago this should not be possible and there is no adequate explanation.
- Some living animals today (e.g. panda bear, koala bear, fruit bats, Chinese water deer) have sharp teeth and sharp claws yet eat only plants. Therefore it is not true to say that dinosaurs with sharp teeth and claws must be meat eaters.
- There is a description in the Bible of an animal named behemoth that appears to be an accurate description of a dinosaur in Job 40:15-18
- There are reports in various writings (outside the Bible) referring to sightings and descriptions of dragons and also historical depictions in art of animals that look like dinosaurs.
- Rock and fossil dating methods are not as robust as claimed, depending on many assumptions and some circular reasoning. Carbon 14 radiometric dating only works for ages less than 100,000 years and itself has many assumptions.
9. The Flood
By just 10 generations after Adam, despite the Holy Spirit working for righteousness, sin had so multiplied that almost the whole earth was corrupt and violent. Only Noah and his family had remained faithful to God. Things were so bad and it grieved God so much that he almost regretted even making man. God decides to make a new start and demonstrating his judgment against sin but also his mercy, he plans to send a flood upon the whole earth but save Noah and his family and representative animals so the earth could be repopulated. God gave mankind warning that the flood would come after 120 years so there was plenty of time for repentance. But it seems none did repent and they continued in rebellion against God. Whatever was the exact geography, climatic and atmospheric conditions before the flood we read that it rained for 40 days and underground water reservoirs were broken up releasing their contents. The flood is a picture of Gods judgement against sin and the ark is a picture of salvation. We have no justification to say these are pictures only. They are as real as future judgement and the gospel of Christ. If we deny a real flood we might as well deny a real future judgement since this will be a direct parallel.
- 70% of the earth is still flooded
- Vast areas of every continent have sedimentary rocks at higher levels than current sea water
- Fossils of sea creatures are sometimes found at much higher levels than current sea levels
- Most ancient cultures have a flood tradition
- The size and proportions of the ark exactly matched its purpose
- It is likely that the diverse breeds of animals both wild and domestic have originated through natural and artificial selection from a single pair that was taken on the ark.
There are many useful and much more comprehensive resources concerning creation and evolution issues etc. available online. The reader is encouraged to use such resources to investigate further. The following sites have extensive information on many of the isues raised on this page and many other issues too.