Essays On Genesis: Day One
© 3.10.06 By D. Eric Williams
Why study the book of Genesis? Obviously it is incumbent upon Christians to know their Bible, but is there any reason we should especially target the book of Genesis? The answer is yes. Genesis provides for us the foundations of our religion. In it we see the basic character and intentions of God displayed. There we find the purposes of the Almighty first demonstrated and we become familiar with the patterns and examples which He desires for us to imitate.
Now, there are those who would suggest that we must approach Genesis with an open mind. What they mean is that we should approach the book with the smug assurance that it represents the foolishness of ancient oriental thought. After all one cannot hope to arrive at an intelligent understanding of the book of Genesis if one presupposes it to be a factual history - or so we are told. Yet, the fact is that everyone who reads the book of Genesis does so in light of their own presuppositions. No one is capable of considering the question of origins (or any other issue), free from the influence of a priori reasoning. We all have foundational beliefs upon which we stand. And so, there is no logical reason to suggest that disbelief in the reliability and accuracy of the Scriptures is more reasonable than acceptance of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible word of God.
Moreover, if we approach the study of origins in a truly scientific fashion, we may find ourselves adjusting our presuppositions. Scientific method is the "systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment and the forming and testing of hypotheses."1 Obviously our use of scientific method is limited in the study of origins; no human being was there at the very beginning to collect data and conduct experiments. However, we are able to arrive at certain conclusions concerning what did not take place. For instance, if life is the product of time and chance, then we should be able to generate life in the laboratory. We cannot; thus scientific method has shown that it is wrong to believe that life can be spontaneously generated from non-living matter. The fact is, any belief concerning origins must be accepted by faith. Thus the Darwinian is guilty of gross hypocrisy in claiming that the Bible believing Christian is a narrow minded bigot for believing the Genesis account of origins. Indeed,
There can be no questions that Darwin had nothing like sufficient evidence to establish his theory of evolution. ...His general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us to believe.2
In short, there is no reason for Bible believing Christians to be bamboozled by Darwinian balderdash. The available evidence does not support a belief in macro-evolution, period.3 On the contrary, all available evidence points to the existence of a Creator.4 As Christians, we believe that the Creator is Yahweh, the Almighty God of the Bible.
The odd fact is, many "Evangelicals" strive to align their understanding of Genesis with the shoddy science of the Darwinians. They so want to be seen as sophisticated, intelligent people, that they are willing to twist the straightforward words of Scripture to fit (sort of), prevailing scientific thought. Thus we are plagued by day age theories, gap theories, ruin and reconstruction theories and so on. All such compromise with ungodly "science" not only obscures the truth concerning the origin of the universe; it also beclouds important information about God's character - things we are supposed to understand and imitate.
Hence "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1, cf. Ps. 33:6, 148:1-6, Col. 1:16-17, Heb. 11:3, 2 Pt. 3:5-6 and etc.). Which is to say that the time/space/matter universe we live in has a starting point. Nothing in this universe is eternal - only God has no beginning. Matter has not always existed; nor time nor space. All of "this" is created and was created by God at a particular point - a moment of His own choosing (indeed, a "moment" did not exist until God actually created since time as we know it did not exist until that instant of initial creation).
According to the second verse of Genesis chapter one, heaven was created complete, but the earth was created in a form requiring additional creative activity; "The earth was without form and void (empty); and darkness was on the face of the deep" (Gen. 1:2). One might say that God created the earth with the intention of improving upon His creation over a period of six days (as we shall see in subsequent essays). This in no way implies that God erred in some way when He first brought the earth into being. Rather, as we shall see, the fashion in which God created provides a pattern for Mankind in his fulfilling of the dominion mandate.
Verse two also informs us that the Spirit of God was brooding over the face of the deep. This reminds us - or should remind us - of the Spirit of God alighting upon the Believers gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost following Christ's resurrection. The Spirit of God is creative; He provides energy and impetus to do the work of God. As on the first day of creation, a new universe was realized and a new order was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost.
Here on the first day of creation God begins to model the behavior that He expects His people to imitate; "Then God said, ‘Let there be light'" (Gen. 1:3). God took hold of creation, worked it and improved upon it. He created light,5 divided light from darkness and named the opposing time periods Day and Night. This pattern will continue throughout the remaining five days of creation.
The first day of creation ends with the definition of a day; "So the evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen. 1:5). Immediately, the biblical narrative debunks all day age theories and the like. As if anticipating the modern fixation on Darwinian thought, the Bible tells us that creation took place over a series of days - not ages - and even defines the word "day" (Hebrew yom6), for us. For instance, the days of creation had typical mornings and evenings. Moreover,
2. The very same word "day" is used on the fourth day to define a time period that is governed by the sun, which must be a regular day (Gen. 1:14).
3. In the 119 instances of the Hebrew word day (yom), standing in conjunction with a numerical adjective (first, second etc.), in the writings of Moses, it never means anything other than a literal day. Consistency would require that this structure must so function in Genesis 1.
4. Exodus 20:9-11 patterns man's work week after God's original worrk week, wich suggests the literality of the creation week.
5. In Exodus 20:11 the plural for the "days" of creation is used. In the 702 instances of the plural "days" in the Old Testament, it never menas anything other than literal days.7
And so the first day of creation came to an end. Five more days of creative work are to follow and then a day of rest.