2nd January 2011

Six-Day Creation?

“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, my called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together.”
Isaiah 48:12-13 (NKJV)

I’m often asked whether I believe the Creation account in the first chapter of Genesis should be understood as a literal six-day creation. Some Christians believe that if a person doesn’t believe that, then they are denying both God and the Bible.

But it is important to remember that some parts of the Bible are intended to be understood literally and others to be understood figuratively. In fact, some 40 per cent of the Bible consists of poetry and metaphors, and these are intended to be taken figuratively, not literally. And the figurative parts are every bit as true as the literal parts. For example, God is not a literal hen, rock, tower, or shepherd, even though the Bible describes God in such terms.

We have to remember that the writer of Genesis 1 lived at a time when common oral (and eventually written) traditions included mythic creation epics that presented the stars, the planets, the sun, moon, land, sea and animals as gods. Some of these creation epics began with a pre-existent mound out of which the first god springs, who then in one way or another produces the other gods. Another variation has the sea as the first god. Such epics were the standard approach to explaining the original of the known universe.

Contrast that with the Creation story in Genesis 1. The Genesis account uses the standard style of creation epics of the ancient world. But it makes the radical declaration that the God of Israel, completely unlike all the gods of the nations, did not emerge from anything, nor was he ever part of the universe. Quite the contrary, Genesis declares that this God created everything out of nothing simply by the power of his word. Each of the things thought of by the nations as being gods is systematically presented in Genesis as having been created by this God, and then being declared ‘good’ by this God, demonstrating his utter power over them.

In other words, Genesis 1 is about the Who of Creation, not the how. Genesis 1 is making a profound theological statement to us about who God is as Creator in contrast with the gods of the nations. We should not try to interpret it as providing us some kind of literal scientific record of how and when God did it.

The biblical revelation tells us that the God who revealed himself to Israel and who has revealed himself to humanity in Jesus Christ is the Creator of all that exists. This means that nothing factual that science can say about the universe needs to be in conflict with the biblical revelation—as long as the scientific interpretation doesn’t conclude that God is not the Creator of all that exists.

Scientists, using whatever evidence is available, seek better to understand the wonders of the amazing universe God has brought into being. Since God is the creator of all that is, whatever science finds to be true about the universe or about life itself, is simply a discovery about some aspect of what God has done.

As Christians, we have no need to be afraid of or sceptical of what science discovers, because all truth is God’s truth, and all true science is God’s science.

Heavenly Father, we live in an age of scientific advancements and increase in knowledge. But nothing has countered or diminished your claim to be Creator. You don’t explain how, but you do explain who, and for that we give you eternal thanks. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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