Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Creation

Big history or little history?

Big History project

Big History projectA pantheistic creation story

“Big History” is a modern origins story that is being developed online for school students and is supported by Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest men. The objective is to develop a framework for learning about anything and everything that includes a deeper awareness of our past. It claims to tell a story that our children need to know. But what will they learn?

History of the universe

“Big History” is based on eight “threshold moments” when the universe increased in complexity:

  1. Origin of the universe billions of years ago as explained by the big bang theory.
  2. Stars light up from the remnants of the exploding gases.
  3. New chemical elements form when stars die and create new types of atoms.
  4. Rocky planets such as the earth and the solar system form around stars.
  5. Molecules combine to form single celled living organisms that evolve into multi-celled organisms.
  6. Human beings appear as a consequence of evolutionary processes.
  7. After the last ice age about 10,000 years ago, humans develop agriculture.
  8. The modern revolution, characterized by the use of fossil fuels and global communication.

Although “Big History” is based on humanity’s current scientific and historical understanding, the following questions come to mind.

Big assumptions

Although Big History states these as facts, it assumes that:

  • The origin and development of the universe can be explained by the laws of science.
  • The early universe was simple.
  • The universe has become more complex with time.

Once these are assumed, the rest follows as a consequence. So the course is teaching that these assumptions are facts. Instead they are scientifically unprovable.

As history trumps science when dealing with the past, the Bible surpasses science with regard to the origin of the universe and the nature of the early universe. In particular, the assumption of the uniformity of scientific laws isn’t valid past the creation of the universe about 6,000 years ago. So history shows the first two assumptions are false.

The assumption that “The universe has become more complex with time”, goes against common sense and the law of cause and effect. How can an inanimate object gain increasing complexity and increasing information by using the laws of science alone and not outside intelligence?  How can an animal or plant gain increasing complexity and increasing information by using the laws of science alone and not outside intelligence?

Big miracles

This secular origins story is based on miracles than can’t be explained by science. Yet it claims to be scientific!

Before the beginning of time it assumes there was nothing – no time, mass, energy or space. After the beginning of time a tiny particle smaller than an atom appears that contains everything in today’s universe. This means that something appears from nothing, which is not allowed in the laws of physics! In a science where there is no place for miracles, this is certainly a miracle. How was all the mass and energy within the universe created out of absolutely nothing using only the physical forces within the universe? How could the universe create itself?

According to Big History, the universe can create complexity and information. This happens as a series of stages, each of which produces something utterly new. Each of these threshold moments is a miracle as the increase in complexity and information cannot be explained by the laws of science. How could the universe increase complexity and information by itself?

How does the universe create complexity despite the second law of thermodynamics, which says that “The general tendency of the universe is to move from order and structure to lack of order and lack of structure”? This is never explained. There is just a statement that it can create complexity, but with great difficulty! So the universe builds itself, which is pantheism. The universe is god. So intelligence and intent is attributed to inanimate objects or concepts, such as “Life interjects” and “DNA learns”.

It is interesting to note that the example of increasing complexity used in Big History was our modern society and not a biological example such as the DNA molecule or the human mind.

Circular reasoning

Big History is guilty of circular reasoning. It states assumptions and ideas as facts. Its key findings are based on its assumptions and presuppositions. For example, it reveals how complexity slowly evolved. But this is also an assumption.

Big history is speculative. It says, “We can imagine the early universe breaking up into billions of clouds”.

Big history is a product of the secular paradigm or worldview that has rejected the God of the Bible.

Conclusion

Big History is certainly ambitious. It has big assumptions, big miracles, big extrapolation and big imagination. Although it claims to be big on history, it actually includes little recorded history.

As “the story of how the universe creates complexity” and the “unifying story that gives a sense of the whole of history”, it is a pantheistic creation story that replaces the Bible.

Do our children need to know this? How much better if they knew the Bible and accepted its message as the unifying story that gives a sense of the whole of history?

Written, October 2013

Also see – Using history and science to investigate ancient times
Big history


Using history and science to investigate ancient times

Forescic science

Forescic scienceWhen history trumps science

What happened?

Crime investigation often involves eyewitnesses and forensic science. But when these conflict, which gets precedence? Forensic science uses the evidence to infer what happened in the past and so deduce who committed the crime. Eyewitnesses report what they saw happen and who actually committed the crime. More importance is usually given to a reliable eyewitness than to forensic science, but forensic science can help explain an eyewitness account.

History and science are two main ways to investigate events that occurred in the past. History is like an eyewitness and science is like forensic science. In this article, we use the term “ancient forensic science” to refer to the use of science to investigate ancient times. Let’s look at the relationship between history and ancient forensic science.

How history works

History is the study of past events. Its accuracy depends on the accuracy of the information available to the historian, which is also related to the amount of time between the events studied and the historical investigation. Obviously, all other things being equal, the greater this time gap, the greater the uncertainty in the investigation.

History is more accurate when there are written records available than when these are absent. History can also use other evidence such as oral records and archaeological findings.

As a result of historical research, the historian produces a written account of past events and attempts to put them in chronological order.

How ancient forensic science works

Ancient forensic science uses the scientific method to investigate ancient times. This approach has been used in astronomy, archaeology, biology, chemistry and geology to investigate ancient times. Because it relates to past events that were not observed and the evidence is thousands of years old, ancient forensic science is based on more assumptions than most science. Many assumptions need to be made to interpret the evidence. An example of an assumption made by modern forensic science in that “everyone’s fingerprint is unique”. The assumptions of ancient forensic science include extrapolation from present conditions backwards in time assuming uniformity of scientific laws. If an assumption is incorrect, then the findings of the forensic investigation can be unreliable.

By the way, science can only address situations that are described by scientific laws. This means it can’t address questions such as the ultimate origin of matter and energy in the universe.

As a result of ancient forensic scientific research, the scientist also produces a written account of past events and attempts to put them in chronological order.

The historical record

The Bible is the best record of ancient history we have today. It contains documentary evidence from eyewitnesses which has been accurately preserved over the years. The authors were either eyewitnesses themselves or they spoke with eyewitnesses. In the case of the original creation, the account was given to Moses by God, who was the Creator. God asked Job, “Where were you?” when this happened (Job 8:4-7)! He hadn’t been born yet! Therefore, it is an eyewitness account! Likewise, the question for us today is “Were you there?”. Obviously the answer is “no”! We can only look back thousands of years towards this event.

The Bible says that God created the universe rapidly in six days and that people have existed since the sixth day of creation. The creation was mature and fully functional from the beginning. It didn’t need to develop gradually over time from simple to more complex. This means that at the beginning, the apparent age of things didn’t match the actual age. The Bible also says that Adam lived about 6,000 years ago and the global flood was about 4,500 years ago.

The ancient forensic scientific explanation

Ancient forensic science says that the universe developed slowly over billions of years. During this time, things developed gradually from simple to more complex. First there were stars, then planets, then single-celled organisms, then multi-celled organisms, followed by fish, plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and finally human beings.

Much of this explanation relies on the “big bang” theory and the idea of evolution. However,  ancient forensic science is unable to answer questions like:

  • How did the first life originate?
  • Why was there a “big-bang”?
  • What happened before the “big-bang”
  • How did something come from nothing?

This conflicts with the biblical record as the dates are significantly older, all things developed gradually from simple to more complex instead of being complex from the beginning, and people appear after billions of years of evolution.

How can we resolve this conflict?

Huge extrapolation

Scientists use mathematical methods to make predictions. These mathematical methods (which are called “models”) are developed from measurements (observations) that have been made over a certain period of time and under a certain range of conditions. The predictions are most accurate for circumstances that lie within those under which the model was developed. Predictions made outside these circumstances are less reliable as they are extrapolations outside the realm that was measured and observed.

The ancient forensic scientific explanation of ancient history uses theories and observations made in the past few hundred years to make statements about what happened millions and billions of years ago. In science it is well known that the accuracy of a prediction decreases as it extends outside the region of measurement and observation.

Orders of magnitude are used to compare very large differences between numbers. It this case the difference is expressed as the power of 10. For example, 1,000 is one order of magnitude greater than 100, two orders of magnitude greater than 10, and three orders of magnitude greater than 1.

We will now estimate the degree of extrapolation that is made by ancient forensic science. In order to be conservative, we will assume that the scientific theories and observations have been developed from measurements and observations made in the past 1,000 years. So any prediction that applies greater than 1,000 years ago is an extrapolation outside the range of measurement and observation. Therefore, a prediction of an event 10,000 years ago represents an extrapolation of one order of magnitude. Using the dates taught in the Big History Project, we see that the extrapolations are at least 2 to 7 orders of magnitude. As the degree of uncertainty usually increases with the size of the extrapolation, these enormous extrapolations indicate a huge uncertainty in these predictions. In normal science such extrapolations would be viewed as being speculative guesses.

Proposed Event Extrapolation – Orders of magnitude
Big bang 7 (a factor of 107 )
Earth and solar system formed 6 (a factor of 106)
First life on earth 6 (a factor of 106)
First humans 2 (a factor of 102)

Resolving the conflict

As eyewitnesses trump forensic science in criminal investigations, we need to see what implications the historical record has for the ancient forensic scientific explanation. The most obvious implication is that it is wrong to extrapolate backwards in time past about 6,000 years because this was when the universe was “stretched out” by God (Jer. 10:12). The creative week was a unique time that can’t be explained by the laws of science. Scientists would call it a “boundary condition” or an “initial condition”. The assumption of the uniformity of scientific laws only applies since this time. Extrapolation backwards past this time is invalid because the current scientific laws may not apply when God was creating the universe.

This means that most of the apparent billions of years in the ancient forensic scientific explanation represent what God did in less than a week. This was the miracle of creation. So the billions of years is related to how far God stretched out the universe, not the age of the universe.

Because it is wrong to extrapolate backwards in time past about 6,000 years, the millions of years of evolution are also incorrect.

So when the ancient forensic scientific explanation is corrected by imposing historical eyewitness boundary conditions, we see that the assumptions behind the “big-bang” theory and the theory of evolution are obviously incorrect.

Does it matter?

Why can’t we accept both ancient forensic science and the Bible? Because the ancient forensic scientific explanation destroys the gospel message in the Bible. It destroys the source of sin and death, removes the need for a Savior, and ruins the possibility of future restoration of the earth when Christ reigns (Acts 3:21). This means removing creation, the Garden of Eden and the fall into sin as real events in real places.

It also moves the source of sin, disease, decay and death away from Adam and Eve’s disobedience. It makes them a normal part of our world. They are not viewed as being abnormal. It puts death before sin, not after it. It means that the created world, which God said was “very good” (Gen. 1:31), was marred by disease and death from the beginning. It takes away the fact that the original sin affected all of God’s creation (Rom. 8:19-23). It takes away the promise that all creation will be liberated from its “bondage to decay” when Christ returns to rule over it.

Conclusion

As a reliable eyewitness is superior to forensic science in the investigation of crime, so reliable history is better than ancient forensic science in investigating ancient times. So history trumps science when dealing with the past.

Let’s follow the reliable history of the Bible, instead of the erroneous assumptions and extrapolations of ancient forensic science.

Written, October 2013

Also see – Big history or little history?
   – Big history


Looking back and looking ahead

Coffin Mar 2014 cropped

IMG_4587 resizedBased on a message given at my mother’s funeral on 3 April 2013

A funeral usually involves memories and reflections of the life of the person who has died. But the funeral of a Christian can also look ahead in anticipation of what lies ahead.

Help from God the Creator

The source of a Christian’s help and protection throughout life is described in Psalm 121NIV.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

When this song was written about 3,000 years ago, God’s people knew that the only reliable help and protection comes from the God who made the universe – “the Maker of heaven and earth”. In this context the Hebrew word for “heaven” means the atmosphere and the stars and galaxies. A God with the intelligence and power to create the universe and populate it with living plants, animals and people was surely able to help them! The Bible says He was the source of life on earth whereas all other gods and philosophies are the product of the human imagination.

Unfortunately in our modern world we have largely lost this knowledge and this confidence. We have forgotten about God the Creator. Even though we have wonderful technology, science can’t explain how matter was created from nothing or how life originated, and we often replace God the Creator with the idea that things created themselves.

So when we struggle in life where does our help come from? Some people go to counsellors for help who encourage them to get help from outside themselves. Because people usually can’t solve their own problems, they need to get help from someone else. In a similar way, we all need “outside help” to sustain us and God the Creator is the ultimate outside help!

Psalm 121 ends with, “The Lord will watch your coming and going both now and forevermore”. Here those who trusted God the Creator were promised that God would protect them throughout life and into the future. They could live with assurance and confidence that God would continue to help them. Likewise Christians can have the assurance that God will sustain them during their life and afterwards.

A different world

You may ask if God created everything in the beginning, why is there so much suffering in the world? The world today is very different from the one God made originally. We live in a different world. In the beginning it was a perfect world with harmony between God, people and the natural environment. But when people turned against their Maker, it changed and sin, evil, suffering and death came into the world. This change was caused by people like us. We live in a world with consequences – an act has a consequence and an effect has a cause. Because people turned against God our relationships have been ruined. We ignore God and are separated from Him, we can’t get along with other people, and we exploit the natural environment. Another consequence is that the Bible says we are destined to eternal punishment. Because we are the cause of this problem, we need outside help. Because each of us is guilty, we can’t help each other. The only reliable help available outside humanity is God the Creator.

Help from God the Lifesaver

Fortunately, God didn’t only create the universe and the laws of nature in the beginning, but He also continues to sustain it. He is not only incredibly powerful, but He is also incredibly loving. We remember His special act of love at Christmas and Easter when we celebrate the unique birth and death of Jesus Christ. God knew that mankind was doomed to eternal punishment unless He provided them with outside help. He did this about 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ lived on earth and died and came alive again. Jesus was unique; He was God living as a human being. He showed His power over our world by the miracles He did. When He died by crucifixion, He took the eternal punishment that we deserve. If we turn towards God by being sorry for our behaviour and accepting the fact that Jesus has taken the penalty for our sin, then He promises eternal joy instead of eternal punishment. This is called eternal life. So Jesus is like a lifesaver – He can rescue us from the eternal consequence of our selfish behaviour. In this way God is making a new creation and He gives us the choice of being a part of it. Although we spoilt God’s original creation, and there is now sin, evil, pain, suffering and death, these will be absent in God’s new creation. Instead we can be reconciled with God, we can love one another and we can look forward to the restoration of creation like it was in the beginning.

Because a Christian has accepted Jesus as their Savior they can have an inner assurance, joy and peace.

Coffin Mar 2014 croppedDeath

What happens when a person dies? Not only do the lungs stop breathing and the heart stops pumping. The Bible says that at death a person’s invisible soul and spirit is separated from their body. If they trusted in Jesus the Savior, their soul and spirit goes immediately to be with God in heaven. After death they are enjoying a perfect place. That is why Paul could say, “To die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) and that he preferred to be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). So they are in a better place. Their death is a loss for us, but a gain for them.

Resurrection

But there is more! On Easter Sunday we recall that the body of Jesus was raised back to life after being buried in a grave. The Bible describes a coming day when the bodies of believers, who trusted in Christ the Savior will also be raised back to life:

“What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:50-57NLT).

This is also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. As part of God’s new creation they will have new bodies which won’t wear out and die (1 Cor. 15:42-49; Phil. 3:21; 1 Jn. 3:2) and they will be transported to be with God in heaven – spirit, soul and new body. This will be a great victory over the sin, suffering and death of our world. That’s why Christians can look forward confidently to the coming resurrection. There’s victory ahead!

Summary

The hymn, “How great Thou art”, summarises the greatness of God and the reasons for our Christian faith.

The first verse is about God the great Creator and source of life on earth. It says “Your power throughout the universe displayed”. Do we see God’s power in His creation?

The third verse is about Jesus Christ the great Lifesaver and source of eternal life. It says “On the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin”. When we stand before God, will He be like a lifesaver or like a judge? If we turn towards God by confessing our sins we can be ready to meet Him.

The last verse is about the great resurrection when the bodies of those who have trusted in Christ will be raised and changed to be with Him forever. It says “When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home – what joy shall fill my heart”. Are you ready to experience this joy?

Written, April 2013


Two messages

No excuse

Recently the world received messages from the planet Mars that came in the form of photographs taken by Curiosity, the NASA Mars Rover. Psalm 19 contains two messages from God, about His power and His love.

God’s power

In the first, the songwriter, David, personifies (gives human attributes to) the universe: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4aNIV). When David was a shepherd, he lived outdoors and would have seen God’s creation power in the sun, moon and stars (Ps. 8:3; 19:4b-6).

What message does the universe “declare”, “proclaim”, “reveal” and “voice” to us? That all of it is “the work of His hands” alone. God created the universe. Great knowledge and power would be required to provide the countless stars, the immense distances and the warmth of the sun. By looking at the universe, we see abundant evidence that God is a very powerful Creator.

God’s love

When the songwriter David turns to describe Scripture (which at that time comprised portions of the Old Testament written before 1000BC), he changes the title of God from “El”, which means the powerful One behind creation (Strong’s #410), to “Yahweh”, which means the personal loving One who cares for His chosen people (#3068). Scripture is a written message from God to us: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

David’s Scripture message largely contained God’s dealings with the Jews and their ancestors. He said that His words were “refreshing” and “wise”, “giving joy” and “light” and “great reward” (Ps. 19: 7-11). In particular, God made covenants with the children of Israel in the days of Abraham, Moses and David (Gen. 12:2-3; Ex. 19-24; Lev.; 2 Sam. 7:5-16). In these He showed His love for them. Although they would reject Him, He would not reject them (Lev. 26:43-44). When we read the Old Testament, it becomes evident that God lovingly cares for His people, the descendants of Abraham. When we read the New Testament we discover this same care is ours as Christians.

Lessons for us

Today we still have the visible message of the created universe and the written message of the Bible. We have no excuse for not knowing what God has done for us: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

In the New Testament Paul quoted Psalm 19:4 when he wrote that people had heard the message of God’s power and love as shown by Jesus: “Did they not hear? Of course they did: ‘Their voice [of the heavens, declaring the glory of God] has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:18; Ps. 19:4).

Seeing God’s power and love in Psalm 19 should bring us to say with the psalmist, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care” (Ps. 95:6-7)?

Written, August 2012


Big history

Big bang

Made to be inhabited

A letter in a newspaper stated that Genesis chapter 1-11 is pre-history and is probably best described as a ”saga”, which is a story. They said it was a different genre to the rest of Genesis, which I assume was considered to be real history which had been verified by archaeology. Well, what does the evidence show us?

Extra-Biblical account

The history of the universe from the beginning of time according to those who reject the Bible and the God of the Bible is often told as follows:

  • About 15 billion years ago – there was a “big bang” and stars like the sun formed from the exploding gases
  • Then about 4.6 billion years ago – planets like earth formed around the stars
  • 3.5 billion years ago – the first life appeared in deep water when molecules combined to form single-celled organisms
  • 1 billion years ago – multi-cellar organisms evolved
  • 600 million years ago – invertebrate animals and fish evolved
  • 475 million years ago – land plants evolved
  • 360 million years ago – amphibians and then the first land animals evolved
  • 250 million years ago – reptiles ruled
  • 200 million years ago – birds and mammals ruled
  • 90 million years ago – flowering plants evolved
  • 200 thousand years ago – the first humans evolved

Bill Gates is funding a project to present this information online for high school students. Let’s look at what the Bible says about such “big history”.

According to Jesus

When Jesus was discussing divorce and marriage He went back to Genesis and quoted from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female’. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife …” (Mk. 10:6-7NIV). These verses refer to the first people Adam and Eve. Here He links the “beginning of creation” with the beginning of the human race.

When Jesus was condemning the Pharisees, he quoted the range of martyrs in the Old Testament, “the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Lk. 11:50-51). Abel was in the first family (Genesis 4) and Zechariah was mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24, the last book in the Jewish Old Testament. Here He links the “beginning of the world” with the first family.

Clearly Jesus believed that early Genesis was real history, not just a story.

We can also learn something about the beginning of everything from Jesus. It is instructive to consider how Jesus demonstrated God’s power. He did many miracles; more than is recorded in the Bible (Jn. 20:30). For example:

  • A storm was calmed straight away (Mk. 4:39)
  • 5,000 men plus women and children were fed from five loaves and two fish (Mk. 6:30-44)
  • People were healed immediately: the blind could see (Mt. 20:34); the crippled could walk (Lk. 13:13) and the dead stood up (Mk. 5:42; Jn. 11:43-44).

So Jesus could change the physical world instantly. He didn’t need time to do it in gradual steps. Likewise, God can create physical things instantly. He doesn’t need time to do it in gradual steps from the simple to the complex.

According to Paul

When looking at why people who have not heard the gospel still face God’s judgment, Paul wrote “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:21). God’s attributes have been evident to people “since the creation of the world”, not just since people have been on the earth. The implication is that people have been here since the creation of the world. This is consistent with what Jesus said about Adam, Eve and Abel.

Paul also believed in Adam and Eve (Rom. 5:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13-14). For example, He contrasted Adam and Jesus in three passages of the New Testament:

  • “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:44-45). From Adam we have physical life in a natural body, but from Jesus we can have eternal life now and a redeemed body at the resurrection.
  • “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin … through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:12-21). So death entered the world because of Adam’s sin, but eternal life is possible through Jesus.
  • “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22). From Adam we have physical death, but from Jesus people can be resurrected from the dead.

So Paul viewed both Adam and Jesus as true historical characters, not as mythical figures. He saw the creation and fall into sin of early Genesis as historical events that had a significant impact on our world, not as “pre-history” stories.

According to historical records

If there has been a crime or a car accident, the police determine what happened from the evidence and by interviewing witnesses. The Biblical writers witnessed what they wrote about, except for situations such as creation when God was the witness.

History is the study of past events. We don’t use operational science because it’s only reliable for present events – we can’t do experiments on the past or the future unless we make assumptions (then the finding relies on the assumptions made). Documentary evidence is the best form of historical record. Let’s look at what the historical records in the Bible meant for its original readers, the Children of Israel.

Creation

When God gave them the ten commandments, He said “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day” (Ex. 20:11). This was a model for their working week. In this context, the heavens are the stars and galaxies. God took 6 days to create the universe, but could have taken 6 hours, 6 minutes or 6 seconds. After all, God is outside the time of our finite world. He is infinite and all powerful.

God didn’t use a long process to create everything. He commanded and it was done immediately (Ps. 33:6-9; Heb. 11:3). I am not aware of any Scriptures which indicate long ages of time were involved in creation.

This is also supported by the resurrection which is described as “we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51-52). So our resurrection bodies will be created instantly. This is consistent with the original creation taking a short period of time and Christ’s miracles happening instantly. God doesn’t need lots of time to create something new.

The creation was finished on day 6, which was when Adam and Eve were created. So we know that people have been on earth since then.

A mature universe

On the day they were created, Adam named the animals and Adam and Eve were married (Gen. 2:19-20, 24). They were created as mature adults. The universe and the earth that God created were mature. Its complex interacting systems functioned properly from the beginning. The animals and plants lived in mature and functioning ecosystems. So the creation was mature and fully functional from the beginning. It didn’t need to develop gradually over time from simple to more complex.

This means that at that time the apparent age of things didn’t match the actual age. Scientists calculate the age of the universe by assuming that all the stars and galaxies have expanded to their positions after a big explosion. It is an assumption that is also based on using the red- shift of light and the Hubble law to calculate the expansion rates and the distances of galaxies. However, the Bible says that God placed them in their positions on day 4 of creation by stretching them out (Gen. 1:14-19; Ps. 104:2). So the difference between their apparent age of 15 billion years and the Biblical age of thousands of years represents the miracle that God did on day 4.

Genealogies



When did this happen? Is Genesis 1-11 pre-history? It is followed by Genesis 12-25 which is about Abraham. Do we know much about before this time? Yes we do. In Genesis 5 and 11 we have detailed genealogies from Adam to Abraham (Gen 5:1-32; 11:10-26). These are not just lists of ancestors and descendants. Their ages at the birth of their child in the family tree and their death are also given. Some Biblical genealogies have gaps because their purpose is to show their main ancestors (Ezra 7:1-5; Mt. 1:1-16). But these ones are worded in such a way as to exclude omissions and gaps. They are the most comprehensive genealogies in the Bible. Because they cover 19 generations, we know more about these people than our own ancestors!

Besides this, there are two other genealogies that cover this period in the Bible (1 Chron. 1:1-27; Lk. 3:33-38). There are three genealogies in the Bible covering the period back to Adam that some allege is pre-history! So it’s real history. It seems as though in recent times some people call it pre-history to explain the inconsistency with the recent extra-biblical account.

When you add up that dates given in Scripture you find that Adam lived about 6,000 years ago and the global flood was about 4,500 years ago. That’s a long time, thousands of years, but it’s not millions of years. When compared to the extra-biblical timeline, the historical timeline:

  • Is documented historically instead of being calculated
  • Is shorter (about 6,000 years compared to about 15 billion years)
  • Has people appearing near the beginning (people have been here for 99.9998% of the time); instead of near the end (people have been here for 1.3% of the time). People have been here most of the time. After all, God made the world to be inhabited, “For this is what the LORD says—He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited … I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right” (Isa. 45:18-19).

Implications

The extra-biblical account is inconsistent with recorded history. As it relies on assumptions of people who were not there when it happened, clearly these assumptions are wrong. What are these incorrect assumptions?

  • They rule out a God of miracles. This means they have to rely on current physical processes and forces to explain the past.
  • Consequently, they believe that the present is the key to the past, but according to the Bible the past is the key to the present – after all history goes forwards, not backwards!
  • They believe that given enough time everything can create itself and organisms always evolve or build up gradually over time from simple to complex. Therefore the biological world has become more complex with time.
  • They believe simple organisms are primitive and developed earlier than more complex organisms.

Does it matter if the extra-biblical explanation of the past history of the world is wrong? Yes, because it destroys the gospel message. It destroys the source of sin and death, removes the need for a Savior, and ruins the possibility of future restoration of the earth when Christ reigns (Acts 3:21). That’s what happens if the first three chapters of Genesis are not historical, but a story that isn’t necessarily true. This means removing creation, the Garden of Eden and the fall into sin as real events in real places.

This explanation moves the source of sin, disease, decay and death from Adam and Eve’s disobedience to making it be a part of our world (which Christians call God’s creation). In this case disease, decay and death have always been a part of our world. They are the normal situation; and not viewed as being abnormal. It takes away the lack of disease and death before the fall. It puts death before sin, not after it. It puts evil before sin, not after it. It means that the created world, which God said was “very good” (Gen. 1:31), was marred by disease and death. It takes away the fact that the original sin affected all of God’s creation (Rom. 8:19-23). It takes away the promise that all creation will be liberated from its “bondage to decay” when Christ returns to rule over it.

Lessons for us

As believers, our thoughts and opinions should be controlled by God, not by the views of those who reject God. This means that our thoughts and opinions should be controlled by the Bible, not by the extra-biblical theories which rule out the possibility of divine intervention in the natural world, such as miracles. The Bible says that God has intervened in our big history and He will intervene again. We ignore that at our peril.

Sin, death and salvation are important aspects of the Bible and Christianity. Let’s be aware of the implications of ideas such as extra-biblical big history which are inconsistent with the Biblical record.

Finally, the Bible is not a science book; but it is a history book. It is the best record of ancient history we have today; a supreme example of ancient history; and a big history book. It contains documentary evidence by eyewitnesses which has been accurately preserved over the years. So we can trust the Bible on big history.

Written, June 2012

Also see – Big history or little history?
              – Using history and science to investigate ancient times


Evolution is theomorphic

Are animals smarter than people?

Sometimes in movies or children’s stories there are talking animals. This is an example of anthropomorphism where something is given human attributes. The word comes from the Greek word for human (anthropos) and form (morphos). A recent television show titled “Making stuff smarter” described how nature inspired scientists to develop new inventions. For example:

  • As sharkskin seems to prevent the growth of algae, material with a similar micro structure may inhibit the spread of bacteria.
  • As geckos adhere to a vertical wall by microscopic hairs on their toes, material can mimic this to enable other things to adhere to walls.
  • As birds use a flexible, shape-changing wing, this may be mimicked in future aircraft.

These abilities of nature were explained in the television show as follows:

  • “In each case, nature has come up with something new just by manipulating the surface of a material on a very small scale”.
  • “For billions of years, Mother Nature’s been experimenting, and that’s given living things amazing abilities, like healing, flight and camouflage. What can we learn from nature’s ingenuity?”
  • “With all our technology and materials, it’s easy to think we’re the planet’s best inventors, but life has been experimenting with the raw materials of earth for far longer. Billions of years of evolution have created a vast array of plants and animals with amazing abilities of their own. As our understanding of biology and our materials deepens, a new world has opened up, one where nature’s ingenuity and human ingenuity can combine.”

So animals amazing abilities are attributed to: “nature”, “Mother Nature”, and “evolution”. This creative ability is assumed to be an inherent characteristic of animals. Does the fact that scientists are imitating these abilities mean that animals are smarter than people? The answer to this question depends on how the animals were created. If they created themselves, then they developed these characteristics first and so in this aspect they are smarter than the scientists who are investigating them! On the other hand, if the animals didn’t create themselves, then they are not necessarily smarter than people.

Why is “Mother Mature” capitalised? This looks like theomorphism, where something is given the attributes of God or a deity. The word comes from the Greek word for god (theos) and form (morphos). In this case the idea of evolution replaces the need for a creative God. It is theomorphic.

God says …

What does God say about this topic in the Bible?

  • God made the original animals and people (Gen. 1:20-27). This means that He invented the amazing abilities of animals and people. So nature is ingenious because God is ingenious, not because of the idea of evolution. Also, scientists are ingenious because God is ingenious. So animals didn’t create themselves, but they do reproduce themselves, as God planned.
  • God made people to “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 1:26). In this sense, people are smarter than animals and not vice-versa.

So, don’t believe everything you hear and read. Instead test it against what God says.

Written, April 2012

Also see: The idol of evolution: Part 1 (in a new window)
The idol of evolution: Part 2 (in a new window)


Year of the dragon

Dragon statue

Chinese New Year is the main holiday of the year for more than one quarter of the world’s population. Our daughter and her family and Chinese in-laws spent the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong where the streets were decorated colorfully. Chinese holiday traditions include parades, feasts, fireworks, lanterns and giving children money in red envelopes. This is the year of the dragon in the Chinese calendar, which began on 23 January 2012 and will end on 9 February 2013. A surge in births is expected in China during this year as it is regarded as the zodiac sign which will give their offspring the most success and happiness in life.

Chinese calendar

Each year is associated with one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac in the following order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep or Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. So the year of the dragon follows the year of the rabbit and is followed by the year of the snake. The names are repeated every 12 years. Rather than remembering their current age, the Chinese tend to remember the animal of their birth-year. For example, I was born in the year of the Ox.

Nowadays the Chinese calendar is mainly used for traditional festivals that occur on new moons or full moons. As the months are lunar months, it has the feature that the phases of the moon, and astronomical and tidal phenomena associated with them, such as spring and neap tides, fall on approximately the same day in each month.

Today it is considered that the Chinese dragon is a legendary and mythical creature. But what about when the Chinese zodiac was developed thousands of years ago? Clearly the other 11 creatures in the zodiac were not mythical. Why would one be mythical? That would be inconsistent. Was it a creature that was known in ancient times? Could it be extinct?

Dragons in the Bible

Dragons are mentioned in the King James Bible (KJB), which was published about 400 years ago. The KJB is the all-time bestselling book in the English language. In the Old Testament, on 23 occasions the name “dragon(s)” was given to animals that lived on the land and in the sea.

Are these creatures real or mythical? During a drought wild donkeys were said to pant like dragons (Jer. 14:6). The “dragon well” was located near the southern walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:13). Also, Jerusalem and Babylon were to be reduced to a heap of ruins and a “den of dragons” (Jer. 9:11; 51:37). Pharaoh king of Egypt was like a “great dragon” lying in the Nile River and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would devour Judah like a dragon swallows people (Ezek. 29:3; Jer. 51:34). It seems as though the original translators of the KJB understood that a “dragon” was a real creature, not one that was legendary or mythical.

It is interesting to note that in more recent editions of the KJB, the word “dragon” has been changed to “jackal” or “serpent” or “sea-monster”, which are clearly real animals.

Dragons and dinosaurs

In the KJB, “dragons” are associated with Leviathan (Ps 74:13-14; Isa. 27:1). Leviathan in turn is associated with Behemoth and their descriptions seem to match those of certain dinosaurs (Job 40:15-24; 41:1-34). Another creature, Rahab, is like Leviathan (Job 9:13; 26:12; Isa. 30:7; 51:9). These creatures were also used as metaphors for powerful nations such as Egypt and Babylonia (Jer. 51:34; Ezek. 29:3).

Therefore, it appears the “dragons” that were understood to be real animals were probably types of dinosaur which are now extinct. The translators of the KJB didn’t know about dinosaurs as this word was coined 230 years later in 1841. So the word “dragon” is an old word for “dinosaur”. The changes to the text of the KJB occurred after the theory of evolution popularised the idea that the dinosaurs died out millions of years before human beings populated the earth. This shows how one’s worldview can be used to reject evidence and to modify history. Unfortunately this aspect of the secular theory of evolution has influenced all Bible translations.

It is interesting that dragon stories occur in many cultures, particularly the Chinese and Japanese. The pictures we see of dragons are often composite drawings that combine the features of different kinds of dinosaurs. They would also be embellished.

Dragons and dinosaurs are massive examples of God’s creation. When Job was reminded of the greatest dragons and dinosaurs he responded, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” He had seen God’s great power and this caused him to turn and go in the opposite direction and follow God (Job 42:5-6NIV). God also wants us to respond to His power and might.

Written, February 2012

Also see: Dinosaurs in the Bible?


How the universe is held together

Recently the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva in Switzerland has been used to discover a new sub-atomic particle. The collider directs streams of protons around a 27 km circular tunnel so they collide head-on and records the sub-atomic debris that results.

A researcher reported, “Our new measurements are a great way to test theoretical calculations of the forces that act on fundamental particles, and will move us a step closer to understanding how the universe is held together”. So scientists are seeking to understand how the universe is held together. According to the Bible, what they discover will be secondary causes and not primary ones.

Primary and secondary causes

The Bible says that everything in the universe is held together by the powerful word of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “sustaining all things by His powerful word” (Heb. 1:3) and “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1 :17). God’s divine power sustains the mass, energy, space and time of our universe. It the primary reason the universe is held together.

The Bible also teaches that God spoke the universe into existence.

  • “the universe was formed at God’s command” (Heb. 11:3).
  •  “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth … Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere Him. For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:6-9).
  • With regard to the whole universe (visible and invisible, living and inanimate); “at His command they were created” (Ps. 148:5)
  • “God said” is mentioned ten times in the description of the creation of the universe (Gen 1:1-31).

The orderly mechanisms and models of science reflect God’s nature. These mechanisms and models are secondary causes which describe how the universe operates. They are part of the creation over which God has dominion (Job 25:2; 38:33). The eternal omnipotent God who has massive intelligence is the original and ultimate cause because He determined how the universe operates.

Summary

God not only designed and created the universe, He continues to sustain it by His divine powerful word. He is both a Creator and a Sustainer.

Written, December 2011


The awe of God

The heavens declare the glory of God!

These notes were prepared for a presentation to be shown to High School students in New South Wales, Australia.

Academic qualifications

I have a Bachelor of Science with first class honours (BSc Hons) in Physics from the University of Sydney, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Science from Macquarie University.

What is the meaning of the word “creation”?

According to the Macquarie Dictionary, the word “creation” is a noun meaning “that which is created”; or more specifically “the world”; or “the universe”. It describes something that has been created or made or an original work. In this presentation, we will use the word “creation” to describe “nature” or “the world” or “the universe”.

The word “creation” was used in the Bible by Paul to mean the universe: “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:20-22NLT).

We live in a creative world. People are very creative. For example, artists create works of art, architects create buildings, inventors create inventions, engineers create machines, and authors create novels. Here the creations are works of art, buildings, machines, and novels. Even animals are creative. They make sounds to communicate with each other and make homes such as nests and holes in the ground.

The creative process involves two nouns and one verb:

  • The creator – someone or something who creates
  • The creation – what has been brought into existence. It’s something new. Something that had a beginning.
  • To create – is the action to bring something into existence.

In this process, the creator is the cause and the creation is the effect. Did you know that we live in a cause and effect universe? For every effect there is a cause. Likewise, for every creation there is a creator. The creation begins in the mind of the creator. As illustrated by the examples given above, the creator is always more intelligent than the creation (except in the case of biological offspring, where God is the real creator of a person’s DNA).

Why is it important to study creation?

As mentioned above, “creation” is “nature” or “the world” or “the universe”. We rely on creation for much of our health and well being. It is our life support system It provides the resources we use for: supplying food and water, which are essential for life; supplying energy; making buildings and transport systems, and supplying raw materials for the things we manufacture.

These resources include: animals on the land and in the water; plants, including forests; soils; and minerals and fossil fuels. We would die if all our plants and animals became extinct.

As we didn’t create any of these raw materials, we don’t know everything about them. Researchers study creation in order to understand how it works. They also study our bodies in order to keep healthy and treat injury and disease.

I hope the students watching this presentation learn more about creation in their studies. Maybe in future they can improve the knowledge of creation through research and investigations and apply it to the benefit of humanity.

As the pinnacle of God’s creation, people are given the responsibility to care for the rest of creation – the first man was told to:

  • “Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground” (Gen 1:26), and
  • “to tend and watch over” the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15).

This involves the management of earth’s resources for the benefit of everyone.

Couldn’t the universe have been created by chance?

Could Windows7 have been created by chance? Obviously no! As the universe is more complex than Windows7, it couldn’t have been created by chance either.

Everything which has a beginning has a cause. As the universe has a beginning, it has a cause. As the universe is a creation, it has a creator. What sort of creator is required? Could it have been due to chance such as a random event or random process?

Our world is made up of physical and non-physical components. The physical components (matter and energy) cannot produce the non-physical components. For example, information, such as the code stored in the DNA and RNA of all forms of life, is a non-physical message. The only source of such information is an intelligent creator. How much intelligence is required?

For the following reasons, the creator of the universe is more intelligent than modern scientists!

  • Plants make food and oxygen from sunlight and water in the process of photosynthesis. But scientists are unable to do this (Sarfati, p. 125). So the creator of plant life is more intelligent than modern scientists!
  • The information in the human genome is wonderfully complex. The DNA sequence in each cell of our bodies is made up of about 3 billion pairs of molecules. Scientists certainly can’t make life. They can’t even manufacture a single living cell such as an amoeba. That’s why they use stem cells in their research. So the Creator of life on earth is more intelligent than modern scientists!

The complex design of our world requires a Designer. The information in the genetic code requires a source. Complex creation, design and information can’t occur by chance. That would be like a computer that occurred by chance and we all know that doesn’t happen. Instead what happens is that computers break down, they devolve. Likewise instead of getting more complex with time, the natural world is devolving, extinction is evident, not evolution. Did you now that most mutations involve a loss or corruption of genetic information? They are malfunctions that can cause illness such as cystic fibrosis.

This means the answer to the question is “no”, the universe could not have been created by chance. Chance cannot produce the complexity of our world. By the way, nothing can create itself, because that would mean that it existed before it came into existence, which is nonsense!

So the creation demonstrates that there must be a powerful creator, who we call God. David knew this 3,000 years ago when he sang, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (Ps. 19:1). This means that God’s existence can be inferred from nature, which is His creation.

How would you describe the creativity of God in creation?

The creativity shown in creation is enormous. Think of:

  • The vastness of the galaxies.
  • The grandeur of mountains
  • The structure of the atom
  • The enormous range in types of animals and plants.
  • The enormous diversity within each type of animal and plant.
  • The complexity of the design of each animal and plant
  • The range of the behaviour of each plant and animal
  • The range of ecological habitats across the world
  • The coordination between the plants and animals in every habitat
  • The complexity of a single living cell
  • The coordination between all the organs of the body
  • The beauty of a flower
  • Even the range of colours.

Creation is loaded with creativity. The Creator is a supreme architect, engineer and computer programmer in one being.

God is so creative that inventors copy things they see in creation. For example:

  • Aircraft were developed by copying the flight of birds.
  • The design of the human eye has been copied in the design of the optics of cameras (Sarfati, p. 31).
  • The iridescent blues in butterflies & birds are due to a natural diffraction grating, which has been copied to design for brighter and deeper colours (Sarfati, p. 53).

However, we need to realise that the creation has been corrupted since it was created. We can learn about this from the Bible which has been given to us by God who told its authors what to write. The Bible says that the original creation was perfect (“very good”), but this was spoilt when people rebelled against God. At this time, suffering, crime, disease, death and tragedy were introduced. When people say, “how could a loving God create such a world?”, they show their ignorance of the history of our world. He didn’t create it that way in the beginning.

So although God’s creativity is still evident, creation is marred by natural disasters, mismanagement, pollution and extinction.

Does religion fear science?

Christians believe that God the Creator has revealed Himself to us in the words of the Bible. The bible contains the history and destiny of humanity. It is a unique book.

As Christianity inspired and fostered the development of science, it does not fear true science. During the Reformation people interpreted Scripture in a historical-grammatical fashion. They believed that a rational God ruled the universe and realised that Adam had been told to “tend” or “take care” of creation (Gen. 2:15), which lead to scientific research, exploration and discovery.

Operational science studies the creation in order to understand how it works. If science stays within the bounds of the experimental method, there is no conflict with Scripture. However, if scientists extrapolate outside the range of their observations, their predictions become more speculative. Such predictions are not robust. For example, when scientists make statements about the origin of life many years ago, these cannot be proved because they are in the area of history, not operational science. How can you do an experiment about something that cannot be observed?

The facts of science do not change, but the theories proposed to explain these do change. This is because human knowledge is not perfect. In this sense, scientific theories are tentative.

Each year scientists reveal more detail about creation; but each discovery just leads to more questions and things to investigate. So science can reveal more about God’s creativity. As the existence of God is revealed in a general way in creation, by studying the wonders of creation, science can help to demonstrate His immense intelligence and power.

However, Christians do not agree with the philosophy of materialism/naturalism (that nature is all there is). Note, information is not material. This belief is contrary to Scripture – it ignores the Creator: “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created (creation) instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!” (Rom. 1:25).

Does creation reveal God’s perfect love for humanity?

As people care about what happens to their creations, so God cares for His creation. For example:

  • He has provided all the resources we need for survival. Creation is our life support system.
  • He saw that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The original creation showed God’s perfect love for humanity.
  • He continues to sustain the creation: “You care for people and animals alike, O Lord” (Ps. 36:6). He cares for people, animals, birds and fish.

Furthermore:

  • “He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Mt. 5:45).
  • “He sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts”  (Acts 14:17).
  • “All the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine” (Ps. 50:10-11).
  • “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Mt. 10:29-31). The God cares for the sparrows, and He cares more for people.

So the powerful, loving and personal Creator God is engaged with His creation.

However, we also need to take into account the fact that creation has been impacted by people’s rebellion against God. Creation can be cruel. Balance the perfect and the corrupted. “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:20-22). In this passage Creation is personified. Like a pregnant mother, it looks forward to being delivered from suffering, disease and death.

Does God take pleasure in His creation?  And if so, why does He?

As people take pleasure in their creations, so God takes pleasure in His creation.

During the week of creation God paused five times and noted that “it was good” (Gen. 1:4, 12, 18, 21, 25). Then when it was finished: “God looked over all He had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Gen. 1:31). It sounds like He was pleased with what He had made.

Psalm 104 is about the God of creation. It says, “The Lord takes pleasure in all He has made!” (Ps. 104:31). A reason for being pleased is that the creation shows God’s power and wisdom: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship” (Ps. 19:1).

Reference

Jonathan Sarfati (2008) “By Design – Evidence of nature’s Intelligent Designer – the God of the Bible”, Creation Book Publishers.

Written, November 2009


God’s Creation

We live in a creative world. People are very creative. For example, artists create works of art, architects create buildings, inventors create inventions, engineers create hardware and software, and authors create novels. Even animals are creative. They make sounds to communicate with each other and make homes including nests and holes in the ground.

The creative process involves two nouns and one verb:

  • The creator – someone or something who creates
  • The creation – what has been brought into existence. It’s something new.
  • To create – is to bring something into existence. It’s an action.

The creator is always more intelligent than the creation (except biological offspring). This should be obvious from the examples given above.

Creation is a major theme of the Bible. It begins with God creating everything and ends with God remaking everything in a new heaven and a new earth (Gen. 1:1-2:3; Rev. 21:1-5).

This article is based on Bible passages that use the words “create”, “creation, or “creator”.

Creation’s Revelation

God has revealed Himself to everyone in His creation. Isaiah wrote, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars?” (Is. 40:26NLT). This is a good question. When we look at creation we should be reminded of their Creator. Science today misses the main point of God’s revelation through the creation, which is that the creation requires a Creator.

We live in an amazingly complex world. Each year scientists reveal more detail; but each discovery just leads to more questions and things to investigate. Look at all the information in the human genome; it’s wonderfully complex. The DNA sequence in each cell of our bodies is made up of about 3 billion pairs of molecules. Scientists certainly can’t make life. They can’t even manufacture a single living cell. That’s why they use stem cells in their research. So the Creator of life on earth is more intelligent than modern scientists!

The complex design of our world requires a Designer. The information in the genetic code requires a source. Complex creation, design and information can’t occur by chance. That would be like a computer that occurred by chance and we all know that doesn’t happen. Instead what happens is that computers break down, they devolve. Likewise, instead of getting more complex with time, the natural world is devolving; extinction is evident, not evolution. Did you know that most mutations involve a loss or corruption of genetic information? They are malfunctions that can cause illness, such as cystic fibrosis.

Also, nothing can create itself, because that would mean that it existed before it came into existence, which is nonsense! Instead, the logic is that everything which has a beginning has a cause. As the universe has a beginning, it has a cause, which is that it was created by God. So, we live in a cause and effect universe.

David knew this 3,000 years ago when he sang, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship” (Ps. 19:1). This means that God’s existence can be inferred from nature, which is His creation. Because the universe is awesome and immense, God must be immensely powerful. That’s what omnipotent means. Paul said that His eternal power and divine nature are evident in all we see, “The truth about God is known instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God” (Rom. 1:19-20). “Eternal power” means there is no limit on what God can do.

The Supreme Creator

Our knowledge of God’s nature and how He created everything comes from the revelation of Scripture, as it is the only clear revelation from God – it has not been tainted by sin. God was the only One who was there and He tells us how it happened. We are told, “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen” (Heb. 11:3). Here we see that in the beginning God spoke and created what can be seen from what was invisible. In Genesis 1:3 we read “Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’”. In Genesis 1, “God said” is mentioned 8 times before something new was created.

Paul gives more information, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together” (Col. 1:15-17). So God created an invisible spiritual world as well as the visible physical world. Because He made everything in the universe, He is supreme over all creation (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). God continues to sustain the creation by holding it all together.

God also created time. He created our ancestors Adam and Eve “in His own image” so He could have a special relationship with humanity (Gen. 1:27). He is the “author of life” (Acts 3:15). So, God is certainly creative.

Another of David’s songs says, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Ps. 8:3-4). Looking at creation should cause us to feel humble as we recognize the greatness of the God who chose to create us in His image.

However, the truth of the greatness of God is suppressed today as it was when Paul wrote; “God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18). Paul explains how this truth is suppressed: “they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:21-23).

First, they ignore God. They don’t glorify Him as the great Creator or thank Him for sustaining them by His creation. Instead of acknowledging what should be obvious, people act as though there is no God. In this sense they are ignorant. God is replaced by nature; they say that nature does this and nature does that. Paul says that ignoring God leads to futile thinking and darkened hearts. Their plans come to nothing and there is no compassion.

Second, they claim to be wise. They claim to know everything and are able to handle all the problems of life. They act like God. But in this they become fools.

Third, they worship the creation. Because people are instinctively religious, when they reject this revelation of the true God through His creation they worship idols. Paul repeats, “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise!” (Rom. 1:25).

Godlessness results in wickedness. The consequence of suppressing the truth of the greatness of God is sexual immorality and all kinds of sinful behaviour (Rom. 1:24-32). That’s why the wicked are condemned by God and under His judgement and why there is a universal need for the gospel.

Isaiah wrote, “For the Lord is God, and He created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the Lord,” He says, “and there is no other” (Is 45:18). So, the Creator is unique.

Because God had no beginning, He doesn’t need a cause (Dt. 33:27; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 7:3; Rev.1:8; 22:13). In fact God has no beginning, no end or limits; He is infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. God is omni (from the Latin word meaning “all”)! God’s power was demonstrated to Job though the wonders of creation (Job 38-41).This caused Job to realise that God could do anything (Job. 42:2).

Because God is perfect, His creation was perfect. The Bible says that it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). But it didn’t stay that way.

Creation’s Suffering & Redemption

God told Adam “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains” (Gen. 3:17-18). So Adam’s fall into sin affected the world around him.

Although the original creation was “very good”, because of people’s rebellion against God, the universe has been cursed with suffering, disease and death. It has been spoilt, although we see shattered remains of the original creation. “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse … For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:20, 22). When people say, “how could a loving God create such a world?”, they show their ignorance of the history of our world. He didn’t create it that way in the beginning. We are reaping what Adam sowed. Today, life is a struggle for all creation and there is much suffering. This affects Christians as well as the rest of God’s creation. We “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23).

However, together with the rest of God’s creation, we can look forward to the Lord’s coming reign over the earth: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are” (Rom. 8:18-19). When the Lord returns to set up His kingdom, the creation will be redeemed from the affects of the curse and re-created to be “very good” once again. The Garden of Eden will be restored (Acts 3:21). This is when: “the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. … as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isa. 11:6-9).

Creation Evangelism

An understanding of creation is the foundation of the gospel message. When he spoke to Gentile audiences at Lystra and Athens who were ignorant of the Old Testament, Paul appealed to God’s handiwork in nature as evidence of the existence of the Creator (Acts 14:15b-17; 17:24-27). He was the one they should be worshiping, not worthless idols.

The grand message of the Bible is that in the beginning God created everything, then when Adam and Eve disobeyed God the creation came under God’s curse and evil, sickness, suffering and death became prevalent. In this sense the whole creation is suffering. But Jesus came to die on the cross and was resurrected back to life so that those who trust in His work can have a new spiritual life and look forward to living in His new creation. After He returns believers will receive new bodies and will leave the suffering world to eventually reign with Him in His kingdom of the restored world.

What about someone who has never heard the gospel message? The Bible says, “it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Two steps are necessary: to believe that God exists, and the creation tells us that, and to earnestly seek Him. If they seek Him, He will led them to a knowledge of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Creation Praise

Psalm 95 is a song of praise that the Jews sang to God for being a great Creator. When Christ returns to set up His kingdom, all creation will praise Him (Ps.98:4-9). That’s what the song “Shout to the Lord” is about. In Psalm 104, the God of creation is praised for His work as the great Creator and Sustainer. All creation praises God in Psalm 148, which includes “Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for He issued His command, and they came into being” (Ps 148:5). All creation is to praise the Lord because He spoke the universe into existence.

In heaven the redeemed bow down before God on His throne and praise Him because He created everything: “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased” (Rev. 4:11). Finally, at the end of time, after God has dealt with people’s sin and rebellion, every creature praises God (Rev. 5:13).

Lessons for us

Do we appreciate the grandeur, majesty, power, wisdom and beauty of the creation? Do we realise that because it didn’t make itself, it requires an awesome Creator who continues to uphold and maintain it? He rules over all creation. Let’s keep aware of God’s greatness, power and sovereignty. Are we humble before Him? Do we thank Him for sustaining us by His creation? Do we acknowledge His work of creation in songs of praise?

Do we realise that, like humanity, the whole universe has been cursed with suffering, disease and death? Are we looking forward to the day when the curse is removed?

Are we worshiping the Creator or the creation? Who are our heroes? What images are occupying us on the movies, TV, and internet? Are we ambitious or greedy? Are we chasing the good comfortable life or always seeking good health?

Creation is a major theme of the Bible. The sequence is creation, fall into sin, release from the penalty of sin (redemption) through Jesus Christ, and creation of the new heavens & the new earth. Do we begin at the beginning of the gospel message, particularly for those who are not familiar with the Bible?

The fact that God has created the universe is fundamental to the Christian faith because it leads to:

  • Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of all believers. If God couldn’t create life in the beginning, how could He bring the dead back to life?
  • The ultimate restoration of the fallen creation. If God couldn’t create life in the beginning, how can He create life in a new creation?

Written, November 2009


In the beginning. Part 2: The first marriage

What happened in the garden in Eden?

In the previous article we saw that at the beginning of time the universe was created by an intelligent and powerful God. He did it in six days followed by one day’s rest to give us the pattern for a seven day week.

Genesis is divided into ten main sections, each beginning with the phrase “the account of”. The next section begins: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Gen. 2:4NIV). Moses would have written Genesis from oral history that had been handed down through the generations and God would have shown him how to edit and record this on papyrus[1]. Of course, as Moses’ birth is recorded in Exodus 2, he wrote the most of the second to fifth books of the bible from first hand experience. It this article we will look at Genesis 2:4-25.

Contradictory creation stories?

Because the creation story in Genesis 2 appears to differ from that in Genesis 1, some say that they were written by different people and not Moses. For example, in Genesis 1 God creates by simple command, but He used the ground in Genesis 2 (v.7,19). In Genesis 1 God is called “Elohim”, whereas in Genesis 2 He is called “Yahweh Elohim”. They say that these are conflicting versions of the same story. But what do we see when we look at the text?

Genesis 1 covers the creation of everything in the universe. It summarises the milestones of God’s creative work in the six days of creation and ends with a summary, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array” (Gen. 2:1). The Hebrew word for God, “Elohim”, is mentioned 29 times in this chapter. It is written from God’s perspective.

Genesis 2:4-25 focuses on events in the Garden of Eden during the sixth day of creation. It gives more detail on the creation of mankind and the roles of Adam and Eve. The topics covered are: the Garden of Eden, the creation of Adam and Eve, and Adam’s and Eve’s roles. The Hebrew phrase “Yahweh Elohim”, is mentioned 11 times in this passage. It is written from Adam’s perspective.

“Elohim”, refers to God as the Creator of the universe, the ruler of nature, and the source of all life. “Yahweh” (or Jehovah) is the personal and covenant name of God. It is used to stress God’s personal relationship with His people and the fact that He keeps His promises. Both “Yahweh” and “Elohim” occur numerous times in the book of Genesis, together and separately.

Accordingly, Genesis 1 correctly used the name Elohim, for God’s role as Creator of the whole universe and of all living things is what the chapter teaches. The subject narrows immediately in Genesis 2-3 where it describes God’s personal relationship with Adam and Eve. God is depicted as walking and talking with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Apparently Adam knew God by His personal name from the beginning—his family worshipped Yahweh (Gen. 4:26). Therefore Yahweh is appropriately joined to Elohim to indicate that the Elohim of all creation is now the Yahweh who is intimately concerned to maintain a personal relationship with humanity.

The literary pattern of Genesis is to present a brief sketch with a broad subject matter and follow it up with a longer more detailed account of the things that are more important to the central theme of the Bible.  For example: looking at the first four main sections of the book that begin with the phrase “the account of”. The first section, which covers the creation of the universe, is brief in length and broad in scope (Gen. 1:1-2:3). This is followed by a section on the creation of mankind and their fall into sin, which is longer and more detailed (Gen. 2:4-4:26). This begins the history of mankind and sets the stage for redemption, which are central themes of the Bible. The third section presents a genealogy from Adam to Noah and is brief and broad in scope (Gen. 5:1-6:8). This is followed by a section on Noah and the flood, which is longer and more detailed (Gen. 6:9-9:29). This shows the consequence of sin and the fact that God rescues and protects His people.

So Genesis 1 and 2 are not contradictory accounts. Genesis 2 is a more detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve on the sixth day of creation. They are complementary, just like each of the four gospels is different, yet complementary. In fact when He answered the Pharisees question concerning divorce, Jesus quoted from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, so He accepted both accounts (Mt. 19:4-5; Mk. 10:6-8).

Some think the biblical stories of creation originate from other creation myths. Actually it was probably the other way around; some of the myths are corrupted versions of the biblical account of creation. If we say that early Genesis is mythical or symbolic, where do we say that it begins to be accurate history? We have the same problem if we say miracles are myths. Once we start rejecting some of the biblical account how can we trust the rest?

The Garden in Eden

Everything in this section of Genesis relates to mankind. It begins by stating that cultivated plants were not present until there was a “man to work the ground” and until there was rainfall (v.5-6). It seems as though at the beginning water came from beneath the earth instead of by rain.

God planted a garden in Eden for Adam and Eve (v.8). This was probably prepared on the third day of creation when vegetation was created (Gen. 1:1-13). It was the first garden. The trees in this garden were beautiful and their fruit was useful for food (v.9). Two particular trees are mentioned in middle of the garden. The tree of life seems to have had the power to convey immortality (v.17). In the book of Revelation the tree of life appears as a symbol of the person of Christ. All true Christians will “eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). This is eternal life in heaven (Rev. 22;2, 14,19). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was used by God to test the obedience of Adam and Eve (v.17).

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden and divided into four other rivers called the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates (v.10-14). As the surface of the earth would have been different before the flood, we cannot compare this landscape with what exits today. Moses says it was east of Canaan (v.8). The present Tigris and Euphrates rivers were probably named after these original rivers. This is like names being transferred from one country to another. Many of the names in Australia come from United Kingdom because that is where many of the early settlers came from. For example my suburb is named after Ryde on the Isle of Wight and my state is called “New South Wales”.

Adam, the first man

The bible describes the origin of mankind: “the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (v.7). God formed his body from the “dust of the ground” and then gave him the breath of life. So Adam was created from the ground, not from an ape. Here we have the creation of life from non-living matter. It was a miracle. Adam was a perfect man in a sinless world.

The first man was named “Adam” or “Man” (v.20). The Hebrew word for “Adam” means “of the ground” or “taken out of red earth”, and it is also used in Genesis for males and for mankind. He is mentioned eight times in the New Testament as the first human being on earth (Lk. 3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; Jude 14).

One of the curses on Adam after he sinned was, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). Upon death the body returns to the ground. It is interesting to note that the animals and birds are also said to have been made out of the ground (v.19). But Adam was different because he was made in the image of God.

Then “the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (v.15). Adam cultivated the garden. So work was a part of ruling over the rest of creation before the fall into sin.

Then we see that God set up a test of man’s obedience. “The LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die’” (v.16-17). God made Adam and Eve with the power to make a choice contrary to their nature. He wanted creatures who loved him freely, even though it meant there was a possibility of evil. Real love must be free; it cannot be instinctive or compulsory. So they were commanded not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave them a choice and told them of the consequence. Now the penalty for disobedience was not 10 minutes in the sin bin! Is was death—instant spiritual death and progressive physical death. When Adam sinned he immediately cut himself off from the source of life, but the dying process took 930 years. There is also the possibility of eternal death (2 Th. 1:9).

Next, Adam named the animals and birds, which was another part of ruling over the rest of creation (v.19-20). A name to the Israelites was not just a label but a description of the essential character of the creature. In this instance Adam would have named the each animal according to its character and nature. Adam would have also noticed that the animals were male and female, each had a mate that was similar yet different. But he didn’t have a mate (v.20).

Eve, the first woman

Up until now everything about creation had been good. Now God says that something is “not good”—“It is not good for the man to be alone” (v.18). It was not good because we are social beings that are not made “to be alone” and God had not yet finished His work of creation. Adam needed a helper (v.18, 20). He was lonely and needed a companion. Eve was to be his helper and companion in the secure relationship of marriage (v.24).

The Bible describes the origin of woman: “the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man” (v.21-22).

God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. So Eve was created from a part of Adam, not from an ape. Cloning is a genetic copy of an existing person, but this is different as it includes a change in gender. Here we have the creation of life from other living matter. It was a miracle. Eve was a perfect woman in a sinless world.

Adam recognised that she was his companion when he said “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (v.23). Together they were called “man” (Gen. 1:26-27). “When God created mankind, He made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And He named them ‘Mankind’ when they were created” (Gen. 5:1-2). She was called “woman”, which means “taken out of man” (v.23). Later she was called “Eve”, which means “life” (Gen. 3:20).

This account teaches the unity of mankind. All people have a common ancestor in Adam—he’s at the beginning of the family tree.

Marriage

Adam and Eve were the first husband and wife (v.25). I think they were married on the sixth day of creation. They had a perfect wedding, even though there were no other people there! It has the key elements of a marriage ceremony. God gave her to Adam; “He brought her to the man” (v.22). And God pronounced them husband and wife: the Creator said “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (v.24, Mt. 19:4,5). Adam and Eve were a perfect husband and wife in a sinless world.

Here God is establishing marriage as the basic institution of society. Jesus (Mt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10-6-9) and Paul (Eph. 5:31) quoted v.24 when they taught about the marriage of one man to one woman. Whenever Adam and Eve are mentioned together in the New Testament it is to illustrate the roles of husbands and wives in marriage (1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim.2:13-14).

Genesis 2 conveys four important aspects of marriage. Firstly,marriage is a new unity. The husband and wife are to leave their parents and start a new family unit and “become one flesh” (v.24, Gen. 29:14). They are bound together, not just individuals. What was once “his” and “hers” is now “ours” and “us”. One of the primary purposes of marriage is to provide companionship, a sharing of life together. As a “helper”, Eve shared Adam’s work and responsibilities as well. Husbands and wives were designed to work together. They should be a team and work together in bringing up their children. Marriage partners are dependent on each other—they are interdependent (1 Cor. 11:11-12). Divorce is painful because it is severing a unity that was once alive.

Secondly, marriage is a lifetime commitment. It is a permanent relationship that should not be broken until death (Rom. 7:1-3). The husband is to leave his parents and be “united to his wife” (v.24). The Hebrew word means to “cling” and “keep close”. It also conveys the idea of loyalty and devotion. Jesus said, “what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mt. 19:6). Marriage partners are to be faithful to one another. Sexual immorality is a sin against God and against our own spouse (1 Cor. 6:15-18). God hates divorce, but 45% of marriages in Australia end in divorce (Mal. 2:13-16). What a sad lack of commitment. Jesus only allowed divorce in the case of adultery (Mt. 5:32; 19:9).

Thirdly, the husband is the head of the family. He is ultimately responsible before God for the nature and character of the home. In this passage Eve is described as a “suitable helper” for Adam (v.18,20). Paul shows that this responsibility applied before the fall into sin when he referred to Genesis 2, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man” (1 Cor. 11:3,8-9). The “man” in this case is Adam and the “woman” is Eve. Here he mentions the order of their creation (Adam was first) and the purpose (Eve was to help Adam). The principle is that husbands should lead the family. Of course Paul also teaches husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25,28,33; Col. 3:19) and wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18). Paul also based the latter on the order of creation (1 Tim. 2:13).

Fourthly, there should be openness between husband and wife, with no secrets and nothing to hide—“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (v.25). This first marriage was unique because there was innocence before the fall into sin. Openness does not mean always agreeing or feeling the same. It means a readiness to share with one another, completely, without insisting that the other reflect the same attitude. There is to be a complete freedom of communication, one with the other. Adam and Eve were relaxed and felt at ease with each other. There was no strain in their marriage. Otherwise, communication breakdown can lead to marriage breakdown.

Application to us

Genesis provides the foundation of the Christian faith. We have seen that Genesis 2 explains the origin of humanity and of marriage. As God designed and made the first man and woman, He knows all about our needs and desires. In order to get the best out of life, we should follow His guidelines and lessons for us in the Bible. In particular, we should follow Jesus, the last Adam, who brings life to those who trust Him (1 Cor. 15:22,45).

When Jesus was asked about marriage He went back to Genesis. Because the meaning of marriage is based on Genesis. Our society is based on families and families are based on marriages. We should also follow God’s guidelines if we want our marriage and our family to work well.


[1] Papyrus is an early form of paper that was first used in Ancient Egypt. It was initially used as scrolls and was much more convenient for writing than clay tablets.

Written, July 2004

See the next article in this series:
- In the beginning. Part 3: The first sin


In the Beginning. Part 1: The first week

What happened at the beginning of time?

The best place to begin reading a book is at the beginning. It’s important to read the beginning in order to understand what happens later. This article begins a series that looks at the beginning of the bible. This helps us understand later events in the Bible, like when Jesus Christ came to earth.

Interpreting the Bible

As “all Scripture is God-breathed”, the original text contained no errors or mistakes (Prov. 30:5-6; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). The words in the original language were inspired by God as the human writers of the Bible were given the words by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt. 1:20-21). That is why it is often referred to as the Word of God. In fact Scripture is the only source of revelation that is not affected by sin (Gen. 3:17-19; Rom. 8:20-22). The Bible is our only reliable authority on the creation of the world—we have no other eye-witness account.

While Scripture is accurate, it is not exhaustive. However, it is sufficient to make us “wise for salvation” and “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15-17NIV). It is a concise book with no unnecessary detail. God gives us the important things that we need to know and we need to use our intellect to apply these to our situations in life.

God intended that ordinary people would be able to understand the Bible. For example, fathers were to teach the Scriptures to their children at home (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4). Also, the Bereans “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). They only need the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).

The meaning of scripture is the meaning the inspired authors intended to convey to their generation. The only exception to this rule is prophecies which also have another meaning when they are fulfilled at a future time. So, it is important to find out how the original readers would have understood the words. After all, it was their language being used in their circumstances.

The Bible is a theological book. It contains the message of salvation from the penalty of our sin. But this theology is set in a world of history and science. It uses the physical world to illustrate and reveal spiritual truths. Although it is not a history book, the history in the bible is accurate. Although it is not a science book, the science in the bible is also accurate. What it says is exactly true. Because it is the inspired word of God, its language communicated accurately to its original readers and a good translation communicates accurately to us today.

The interpretation of scripture requires consideration of the text and the context in which it was written. This includes knowledge of the language, culture and history of that time. For example, is the text a literal narrative or is it poetic? It should be taken literally unless there is ample reason to believe the text was meant to be taken figuratively, such as metaphors, symbolism and parables. Also, other passages of scripture may help to confirm the meaning of a difficult passage.

The Context of Genesis

The book of Genesis was complied and written by Moses in the 14th century BC from oral history and revelation from God (Acts 7:22; 15:1; Genesis 17; 2 Peter 1:21). Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Until he was weaned, his mother would have taught him the history of the Hebrew people. When he was older, Moses was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in words and action” (Acts 7:22).

Moses wrote the first five books of the bible while travelling between Egypt and Canaan. The people in both of these lands worshipped idols. The forces of nature were personified as pagan gods. These mythical beings included the sun god, the river Nile, and the golden calf in Egypt and sun, moon and stars, Baal – the god of the rain and storm, Asherah – the goddess of the sea and fertility in Canaan. The ten plagues were directed against the gods of Egypt. On the way to Canaan they moved through lands where people tried to seduce them into idolatry and immorality. Middle Eastern creation myths usually involve how one of the gods triumphs in a mighty battle against the forces of chaos and then reigns over the other gods and creates order out of chaos.

Genesis was written to these Israelites to educate them about the true God and protect them from idolatry. Moses is declaring that God has revealed Himself in creation and in history; Baal is not the true god. The New Testament affirms this as real history. Jesus quotes v.27 in Mt 19:4 and Mk. 10:6 and Adam and Eve are mentioned several times (Lk.3:38; Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45; 1 Tim. 2:13-14; Jude 14).

Genesis is the foundation of the Bible. It is a book of beginnings; containing a selective history according to God’s purposes. The word “Genesis” comes from the Greek word meaning “origin” or “beginning”. The Hebrew name for this book was “in the beginning”. So Genesis describes the beginning of the universe, the earth and all its inhabitants of human beings, marriage, family, society, civilization, sin and redemption and how God relates to His creation. It contains the original and true account of creation and shows who God is, who we are, what our basic problem is and God’s solution to that problem. In this article we look at Genesis 1:1-2:3.

God is the Creator

The bible begins by saying, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). So the answer to the question of the origin of the universe and of life is given in the first verse of the bible. The fact that God refers to Himself as “us” seems to be a reference to the trinity (Gen. 1:26; 3:22). This is confirmed in the New Testament, which says that Jesus created everything (Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16).

How did God Create?

God created the universe in a series of creative acts over six days (Gen. 1:1-31). “God said” is mentioned nine times in this passage. For example, “God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light” (v.3). He spoke and light shone in a world that was previously dark. So the pattern is that God spoke and it happened (Psalm 33:6, 9; Hebrews 11:3). His creative acts are also described as “God created” (v.1,21,27), and “God made” (v.7,16,25). The outcome is stated, but few details are given of the process. After all, this was written in the 14th century BC to be understood by ordinary people. This helps understanding by readers with a wide range of linguistic skills and intellect. So, according to the Bible, God created everything out of nothing, whereas according to evolution, nothing organised itself into everything.

I believe that over this period God created a mature world that was fully functioning. For example, Adam and Eve were adults, not babies or children; they were called man and wife right after Eve was created (Gen. 2:25). Also, they and the animals needed food to eat from the very beginning of their creation. Of course, this was a miracle and Moses was familiar with miracles (Ex. 10:1).

God also created the laws of science which have operated since the creation. These laws do not include the act of creation itself. For example, the first law of thermodynamics states that energy and matter (remember e=mc2) is always conserved; it cannot be created or destroyed. We cannot apply these laws to the week of creation when energy and matter were made. This means that today’s operational science does not apply to origins like creation. It cannot explain miracles. We should be careful not to extrapolate to areas outside the area of our observations. Like Job, we need to be reminded by God that no-one was there in the beginning, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4).

When did God Create?

It happened “In the beginning” (v.1). This was the beginning of time because God created time. God was all that existed before this occasion, because He is timeless (Psalm 90:2). Jesus said, “at the beginning of creation God made them male and female” (Mk. 10:6). So this first week when Adam and Eve were made was the “beginning of creation”. The Israelites knew it was only a few thousand years before their times. They had the genealogies from Adam to Noah; Shem to Abraham; Isaac, Jacob, Levi; Levi to Moses and then down to their generation (Gen. 5:1-32; 11:10-26; Ex.6:16-20,26-27). Luke supplies similar information in the genealogy of Jesus (Lk. 3:23-38).

Why did God Create?

Creation shows God’s power and divine character (Rom. 1:20). Like the universe, God exists, and is orderly and reasonable and good. God is also personal, like mankind. He greater than all other gods. As He has chosen to show His love through human begins such as us, God created the earth to be inhabited (Is. 45:18). Adam and Eve are described as being the last of God’s creative work (v.27).

Why did God take so long?

After each creative act, the bible says “And there was evening, and there was morning—the X day”, where “X” ranges from “first”to “sixth” (v.5,8,13,19,23,31). Then it says that God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2-3).  The instances in this chapter of the Hebrew word for day, “yom”, used in conjunction with “night”, obviously refer to daylight hours (v.5,14,16,18). What about the six times that “yom” is qualified by “evening and morning” and a number? What did this mean to the Israelites in Moses’ time? Is it daylight, 24 hours, some other period of time, a moment, or a theological category? A period of 24 hours is the only meaning that makes sense in this context. This is consistent with the fact that a Jewish day begins and ends at sunset, rather than at midnight. This means that a day is comprised of an evening (night) followed by a morning (daylight). Genesis 1 is also a sequence of events in time like the lifetimes in the genealogy of Genesis 5.

The sun, moon and stars are to “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (v.14). Obviously this instance of the word “days” means periods of 24 hours. This phrase also shows the Hebrews had words for longer periods than day which could be used by the author if required. But the language used for the six days in Genesis 1 makes no suggestion of a longer period of time.

Why did God take six days? After all, He could have made everything in six seconds! God’s six days of work and one day for rest were an example for His people. According to the fourth commandment, they were to work for six days, but not do any work on the seventh day because God made the universe in six days and then rested on the seventh day (Ex. 20:8-11). This only makes sense if the days of the creation week were the same as those of the working week. God set the example of six days work and one day rest. The working week is based on the creation week. That’s why there is seven days in a week. The seven-day week has no basis outside Scripture[1].

Creation of the Universe

The clear intention of Genesis 1 is to give the Israelites an account of the origin of the universe.  It shows God as the creator of time, matter and energy and everything within the universe. They needed to know why their God was greater than the gods and idols of the Egypt and Canaan. Many pagan creation myths were probably corruptions of the original account of creation recorded in Genesis.

Moses summarized God’s creative work as follows:
Day 1: Space, matter and energy, and light created (v.1-5).
Day 2: Matter and energy distributed across the cosmos (v.6-8).
Day 3: Dry land and vegetation were created on earth (v.9-13).
Day 4: The sun, moon, stars and planets provided light and their cycles provided measurements of times and seasons (v.14-19).
Day 5: Aquatic creatures and birds were created (v.20-23).
Day 6: Animals and the first people, Adam and Eve, were created (v.24-31).
On Day 7 God rested (Gen. 2:2-3). He had finished His work of creation. Now he would sustain His creation and after man’s sin He would change the universe and then reconcile and redeem (Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3).

The fact that God created different kinds of organisms which reproduced “according to their kinds” is mentioned ten times in v.11,12,21,24,25. This implies that each “kind” of creature is distinctive, which is consistent with the statement that “All flesh is not the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another” (1 Cor. 15:39). Their descendants never change from one “kind” of life to another.

What is Moses saying to the Israelites? Our God supersedes all the others. He is a powerful Creator who made everything. He even made what other nations considered to be gods. The true God is separate from creation. This is the same message that Paul told in Romans 1.

People: In the image of God

The fact that mankind was made in the image of God is stated three times (v.26-27). It shows that people were in the image of God from the beginning. What did this mean to the Israelites in Moses’ day? They used the term to describe a likeness between parents and children—Seth was described as being in Adam’s likeness (Gen. 5:3). Also pagan idols were represented as images (Lev. 26:1).

To answer this question we will see what Adam and Eve do that is unique to humanity. First, the statement that is made twice with respect to humanity but to no other creature is that they will “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (v.26, 28). For example, Adam was to tend and care for the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). So mankind was to rule over the rest of creation: we are the link between God and creation. (Ps. 8:5-8). But due to sin “at present we do not see everything subject to them” (Heb. 2:8). We have great power and responsibility. Second, Adam was prohibited from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16). People are conscious of moral values: we call some things good and others bad. This moral nature of mankind is different to the instincts of the animal world. Third, Adam named the animals (Gen. 2:19-20). Mankind is creative and inventive: this involves imagination, the ability to think in conceptual terms (abstract thinking), and the ability to see a thing with the eye of the mind and then create it physically. Fourth, Adam and Eve talked with God (Gen. 3:8-13). People can communicate and use language to convey ideas and discuss issues. In particular we can communicate with God.

Elsewhere the Bible says that people are comprised of spirit, soul and body (1 Th. 5:23). No other creature on earth is a spirit. Our spirits live forever, but there is no mention of life after death for animals. Maybe it is the spirit that is made in the image of God.

Creation was very good

“God saw that it was good” is mentioned 7 times in Genesis 1 (v.4,10,12,18,21,25).  This means that it is in line with His divine purposes and in accordance with His divine character. Also, “good” is the opposite of “evil” and fruit is “good” food (Gen. 2:9). It finishes by saying, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (v.31).  This is a strong indicator that the world originally had no death or disease.

It was an excellent creation that had not yet been spoilt by sin.  Sin is never described in the Bible as being “good” and death is called the “enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26).  This original creation is very similar to last two chapters of Revelation, where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” because “no longer will there be any curse” (Rev. 21:4; 22:3).  Peter said that after Christ returns God will restore everything (Acts 3:21).

Because there was no sin, there was no death of animals or humans.  In fact the animals and people were vegetarian at the beginning (v.29-30) and in the restored state (Isa. 11:6-9: 65:25).  As people and animals faced no predators, they were in harmony and there was no fear. There was peace on earth.

Lessons for us

The Bible shows that the universe was created by an intelligent and powerful God. He did it in six days with one days rest to give us the pattern for a seven day week. There was no sin in the original creation and we can look forward to the restoration to this in the new heavens and new earth described at the end of the bible (2 Pt. 3:13).  In the meantime we can praise God: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11).

Adam and Eve were the climax of creation. They were made in the image of God to rule the rest of creation. They were also creative, with a moral nature and the ability to communicate with God. Even though our world has been spoilt by sin, people still bear the image of God. This gives them great significance.

Becoming a Christian is like being recreated in the likeness of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). We become a child of God. Do we think and act like an image of God? Like an image of Christ? Are we using our personality and spirituality like God? Are we behaving in His likeness? Through Christ in our lives, believers are becoming more Godlike (2 Cor. 3:18).


[1] A day is the time for one rotation of the earth about its own axis. A month is approximately the time for one orbit of the moon around the earth. A year is the time for one orbit of the earth around the sun. There is no such physical relationship for the week.

Written, July 2004

See the next article in this series:
- In the beginning. Part 2: The first marriage


The forest of life

The phrase “according to their/its kinds” occurs ten times in Genesis 1. God created plants to produce seed “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1: 11, 12) and animals to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:21, 24, 25). In this context, the Hebrew word that is translated “kinds” means a category of creatures. The same word is used seven times to describe the creatures taken on the ark (Gen. 6:20; 7:14). The equivalent Greek word “genos” was used in the Septuagint (a translation of the Old Testament into Koine Greek in about 300-100 BC) to describe the black kite, raven, hawk, heron, locust, katydid, cricket, grasshopper, and great lizard (Lev: 11:14-16, 19, 22, 29) and the falcon, raven, hawk, and heron (Dt. 14:13-15,18). So, the Biblical usage of the word “kinds” seems to correspond to a “genus”, which is a Latin word meaning sort, kind or class.

According to Gen 1:11 there were “seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”. So the offspring of the plant or animal was “according to its kind”; the “kind” includes the parents and the offspring; they were the same “kind”. Creatures reproduce according to their kinds. This is the law of reproduction. One kind does not change into a different kind (Jas. 3:12). The ability to breed and produce offspring defines the original created kinds. Groups of living organisms belong in the same created “kind” if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. For example, all the species of finches that Darwin saw on Galapagos island were the one “kind”.

Although there are similarities between the biological kinds, they are distinctly different: “Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another” (1 Cor. 15:39). So there are profound differences between humans and animals. With regard to plants, “to each kind of seed He (God) gives its own body” (1 Cor. 15:38). This suggests that the differences between kinds are due to differences at a cellular level; each has a unique genetic code.

So, the Bible teaches that there were distinct “kinds” of biological life from the beginning. Life on earth didn’t begin with a single cell that became more complex with time. Instead, each kind would have contained a diversity that enabled genetic variations to occur and be favored by natural selection. This means that each original “kind” was like a tree that started out as a trunk and branched out over time as its variability became evident. So the collection of the kinds is like a forest, which I call the forest of life. The forest of life is a better illustration of how life has changed over time than the tree of life. The kinds don’t change from one to another, but there is some variety within each kind.

The contrast between evolution and creation is clear. Evolutionists believe in the tree of life—that all living things are descended from one common ancestor. That is, they believe in change from one kind of creature to another. Creationists believe in the forest of life—variation within the original created kind, but not one kind changing into another.

We need to remember that life had a common Creator, not a common ancestor. From the beginning, life was made to reproduce itself according to its kinds—it’s like a forest, not a tree.

Writtten, July 2007


What do you see?

The basic truth about our world

When we look around each day, what do we see? We see the visible world, our natural or man-made environment. The Bible says that people can know about God from what they see: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom 1:20NIV).

A Creation

According to this verse, some things are visible and some are invisible and we can understand something about the invisible from what is visible. Of course, many creatures can see, but people have complex brains that can help them understand more about what they see.

Paul wrote that the physical world “has been made”; it is a creation. This means that it is not just a product of the forces of nature and it didn’t make itself. The Bible says, “the universe was formed at God’s command” (Heb. 11:3).

Nature is orderly; particularly living things. Ecosystems and the web of life have distinct patterns. From this order of the physical world, Paul says that we can understand that it is a creation. We know that people can create things like clothes, tools, toys, buildings, roads, cars, music, stories, movies, art work and craft work. These are creations. The steps involved in a creation are: it begins with a concept or idea, which is followed by a design and then production. All creations have a creator. This is very basic logic that all can understand (Rom. 1:19).

A Divine Creator

Then Paul names the creator, as “God”. A creation such as a work of art, a musical composition, a song, or a novel reveals something about its creator. What can we learn about God from what He has made?

First, the creator is always more intelligent than the creation. As people are a part of creation, the Creator is more intelligent than us. As the genetic code of living creatures is extremely complex, I think that God is much more intelligent than we can imagine.

Second, the creator controls the energy and power evident in the creation. Therefore, God controls the energy and power evident in the universe such as in an electrical thunderstorm, a tsunami, and the explosion of a star. The Creator is more powerful than we can imagine.

Third, there are supreme laws of nature that we must respect. For example, if we don’t respect the law of gravity and step off a cliff we will die. Likewise, there are laws of electricity which can be fatal if we don’t respect them. These laws rule, we can’t disregard them and live. Gravity rules objects that have no support and electricity rules the flow of electrons in conductors. As the laws of nature rule in the creation, so the Creator rules over the creation.

Fourth, as people have a personality, with a mind, a will, emotions and the ability to communicate, it’s logical that the Creator is also a personal being. That’s why the Bible refers to God as “Him”, not “it—He is more than a force or influence.

So God reigns and rules over the creation and is an extremely intelligent and powerful personality. Paul describes this as His “eternal power and divine nature”. These are some of His invisible qualities which we should understand from what has been made.

No Excuse

As everyone can see or sense the creation and be aware of its laws and characteristics, we can all know that it was made by a Creator. Therefore, Paul claims that there is no excuse for not knowing that God created the world. This fact should be obvious (Rom. 1:19). It doesn’t need any education, just common sense. Why don’t more people see this more clearly? It’s because the truth of the divine Creator is suppressed by the ungodly, which is wicked and foolish (Rom. 1:18, 21-23). So what was once attributed to “God” is now attributed to “Nature”, and God is only used as a swear word. They imitate God be claiming to know everything and they worship ideas and images that have been created by humanity.

Our response

As God rules over all His creation, we should respect and worship Him (Rom. 1:21). As we are part of His creation, we should thank God for all He has done for us. Surely Christians should be characterised by worship and thankfulness towards God.

Written, June 2007


What is intelligent design?

Implications of the complexity of life

Western society is becoming increasingly godless and anti-Christian. In fact many see no need for a God because they think that modern science and knowledge has explained everything that used to be attributed to God. In particular, the theory of evolution has helped to displace God.

The Theory Of Biological Evolution

The word “evolution” is commonly used to describe “any process of formation or growth or development” and the theory of biological evolution is an explanation of how life began and changed over time to be what it is today. According to this theory a big bang or explosion took place in space that set into action the events of evolution. Then stars and planets were formed and life began on earth when non-living molecules changed into single-cell organisms. These simple creatures eventually turned into more complex creatures and finally into humans. It is assumed that all this happened over billions of years.

The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, just as we share a common grandmother with our cousins. The causes of evolution are said to be variations in genetic makeup due to random mutations that are sorted by the environment in a process called natural selection whereby those with advantageous characteristics are more likely to pass them on to the next generation.

This is a dominant paradigm today, which is used to explain many aspects of life by attributing them to evolution. Evolutionists assume this theory is true. It is a materialist and naturalist viewpoint; as it only allows material and natural causes.

Interpreting The Evidence

When we look into what happened in the past, we are like a detective trying to solve the cause of a fire or of a death. They investigate, whether it was due to natural causes or due to human causes such as a criminal act. All that is observable is the current evidence. When detectives seek the cause of a crime, they use assumptions to interpret the evidence. Their findings are only as good as the accuracy of both their investigation of the evidence and the assumptions they make.

Intelligent causes are studied in forensic science, archaeology, and in extraterrestrial intelligence. Are such causes applicable to the origin of terrestrial life? How can we recognise an intelligent cause? Was a rock an Aboriginal tool or eroded by natural processes? Let’s look at two examples from extraterrestrial intelligence. Because of a belief in evolution, some people believe that life would have evolved elsewhere in the universe and we should be able to communicate with it. The Pioneer space probes in the 1970s had a message for any life forms that they might meet travelling across the galaxy. A plaque was bolted to the outside of the spacecrafts which depicted a man and woman, a map of our solar system, and other symbols that may help intelligent beings interpret the message and understand something about us. Someone who saw the plaque would recognise that it had an intelligent cause, because it couldn’t have been made by natural processes alone.

Then there is the SETI project. This Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is looking for radio signals being transmitted by beings that are assumed to be located outside our solar system. The regular radio pulses emitted by pulsars were briefly thought to be potential intelligent signals; the first pulsar to be discovered was originally designated “LGM-1”, for “Little Green Men”. However, they were quickly determined to be of natural origin. Nevertheless, scientists are still analysing signals from space for signs of intelligence.

The Theory Of Intelligent Design

The view that nature shows signs of having been designed by a pre-existing intelligence has been around, since the time of ancient Greece. The most famous version of the design argument was William Paley’s “watchmaker” thesis that went like this:

“In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever. … But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think the answer which I had before given would be sufficient. To the contrary, the fine coordination of all its parts would force us to conclude that … the watch must have had a maker … who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.”[1]

Paley argued that we can draw the same conclusion about many natural objects, such as the eye. Just as a watch’s parts are all perfectly adapted for the purpose of telling time, the parts of an eye are all perfectly adapted for the purpose of seeing and so was evidence of an intelligent designer, which he inferred was the God of the Bible.

Since the 1980s, advances in biology have convinced some scientists that the theory of biological evolution, which is based on natural random processes, was inadequate to account for the sheer complexity of living things, and these could not have been built up in a step-by-step process over time. Called intelligent design (ID), this new approach claims “that intelligent causes are necessary to explain the complex, information-rich structures of biology” and “some biological systems are so complex that they only function when all of their components are present, so that the system could not have evolved from a simpler assemblage that did not contain the full machinery”. ID argues that design rather than random mutations is the primary source of genetic variation. ID research studies whether the “apparent design” in nature is the product of an intelligent cause or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations.

It is interested to note that biochemists use design terminology when they encounter the purpose, function and apparent meaning that pervades living systems. Intention and purpose, which can only be generated by intelligence, is implicitly recognized in this language: the genetic “code,” the “blue print” of life, “messenger” RNA etc.

Within a living cell there are thousands of biological molecular machines, which contain highly coordinated moving parts. Life is so complex that modern science is unable to create it from non-living matter. Furthermore, living organisms have the unique ability to continually repair and maintain themselves and to reproduce themselves; an ability that cannot be replicated by modern science and technology. Whenever we encounter complex systems – whether integrated circuits or internal combustion engines – and we know how they arose, invariably a designing intelligence played a role.

Of course, materialistic science rules out all evidence of design because it implies a supernatural cause and they only want to deal with naturalistic causes. So, when an evolutionist looks at life, they think it is the result of an evolutionary process, whereas those who follow ID think it is the result of intelligence. ID is often criticised as being a version of Biblical creationism: however, all they share is an intelligent cause.

DNA: The Genetic Code

DNA and proteins are the most important molecules of life. DNA carries the hereditary information in almost all living things (some viruses use RNA instead of DNA). Every cell in our body carries DNA; except for the red blood cells. DNA carries the genetic code which determines how cells make proteins and thereby how to make and maintain a person. The huge task of mapping the human genome was completed in 2003.

DNA functions like a language or software program that uses four symbols to carry messages (or instructions) in strands of DNA. These instructions for the protein structure, coded on the DNA molecule, are copied onto a messenger RNA molecule and taken from the nucleus of the cell to a ribosome where it is used to assemble amino acids into a protein molecule. Because they exhibit clear purpose, the code and messages in DNA necessary for life are powerful evidence for design and against materialism—the sequences of the symbols that make the messages are not dictated by physics, chemistry or any known material cause; and statistical analyses rule out chance, even with a universe trillions and trillions of years old. Genetic instructions don’t write themselves any more than a software program writes itself.

Just as intelligence is needed to explain a bird’s nest or a spider’s web or an orchard, which were designed and built by intelligent creatures, these scientists think intelligence is needed to explain the complicated messages found in DNA. They are skeptical of claims that undirected natural causes such as random mutation and natural selection can alone account for the complexity of life. Instead they think that intelligent causes are required.

Furthermore, the genetic information in the DNA cannot be transcribed without many molecular machines that are themselves encoded in the DNA. As the genetic code can only be transcribed if all the molecular machines were in place from the beginning, the origin of this central aspect of life cannot be explained by the evolutionary model of step-wise development from simple to complex. The proponents of ID refer to this as an example of the “irreducible complexity” of life on earth.

What Does The Bible Say?

Although the Bible is not a book of science, it often refers to the origin of life and the reason for life existing on the earth. Instead, the Bible is a book of history that uses poetic language on occasions.

God created out of nothing

The Bible begins with, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1TNIV). The Hebrew verb bara used in this verse means “to create out of nothing”. Its subject in the Bible is always God. According to the Bible, God created: the heavens, earth, the great creatures of the sea, every living and moving thing with which the water teems, every winged bird, the heavens, earth, mankind, and the world (Gen. 1:1, 21, 27; 5:1-2; 2:4; Deut. 4:32; Is. 42:5; 45:18; Mk. 13:19; Eph. 3:9). Creating something out of nothing is beyond the realm of materialistic science.

So God created everything (Is. 44:24; Ecc. 11:5; Jer. 10:16; Jn. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 4:11). “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Heb. 3:4). “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11).

Three other Hebrew verbs are used in the Bible with bara: asah means “to do or make”; yasar is a technical potter’s word “to mould into shape”; and kun means “to set up, establish”. All these verbs are mentioned in Isaiah 45:18: “For this is what the LORD says—He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited”.

Creation: How and Why

Gen. 1:3 says “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”. “God said” is mentioned 10 times in Genesis 1. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth … For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps. 33:6, 9). Also, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Heb. 11:3).

So something was created out of nothing at God’s command. These were miracles that can’t be explained by the laws of nature, which would have become operational when creation was completed (Gen. 2:2). As God created these laws, He is not subject to them. In fact, “God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding” (Jer. 10:12).

One of the purposes of the creation is that it would bring praise to God, the Creator (Ps. 148).

Evidence of a Creator

A creation provides information about its creator. This has been expressed in poetic language: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:1-4). Because the universe was made by God; it is “the work of His hands”. As a creator is always greater than their creation and the universe is so vast and complex, it shows that God has greater power than we can imagine.

The Bible says that people can know about God from what they see: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).

As everyone can see or sense the creation and be aware of its laws and characteristics, we can all know that it was made by a Creator. Therefore, Paul claims that there is no excuse for not knowing that God created the world. This fact should be obvious (Rom. 1:19). It doesn’t need education or indoctrination, just common sense. Why don’t more people see more clearly? It’s because the truth of the divine Creator is suppressed, which is wicked and foolish (Rom. 1:18, 21-22). Such people are like the Sadducees who were told “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’” (Mt. 22:29).

Strengths And Weaknesses Of ID

As Christians can use archaeological research to show the truthfulness of the Bible, they can also use ID to illustrate the biblical description of creation. Design and other arguments from science can be used for pre-evangelism by exposing the fallacy of the evolutionary assumptions that blind the eyes of people today to the truth of the Word of God. It shows that material causes alone cannot explain the complexity of life.

However, ID allows for evolution in the sense that living things are related by common ancestry. This is because it only challenges “chance” as the cause of evolution, not whether evolution has occurred at all. Also, as nature does not reveal the identity of the designer, the theory of ID allows for any “designer” including aliens from outer space and New Age gods. It is like an “unknown god” (Acts 17:23). By leaving out the Biblical Fall into sin, the designer must be cruel and wasteful. The Fall was a major event in history, which changed everything. The world we see today has been corrupted by sin, it is not the original world that God designed.

As for the theory of biological evolution, ID does not explain the origin of life, but only deals with the arrangements of pre-existing materials. Where did all the matter, energy and information come from? Of course, the Bible says God “created” and “made” everything.

Lessons For Us

Let’s realise the importance of our paradigm of the origin and diversity of life. We all make assumptions. Naturalistic assumptions lead to believing that the complexity of life is due to natural processes and explaining life by evolution, whereas, Biblical assumptions lead to believing that the complexity of life is due to the Creator and explaining life by creation by God. We should base our thinking on God’s word; that’s where the real Designer is revealed.

In the beginning God created everything. He is the source of all the matter, energy and information in the universe. Life had a common Designer and Creator, not a common ancestor.

ID can be a tool to help show some of the problems with the theory of evolution. The complexity and design of life points to an intelligent Designer. It can be used in evangelism when we point out that the God of the Bible was the Designer and Creator and we add the history of the fall into sin.

If God is the Creator and Sustainer of everything, this means He has a plan and is directing human history. As His creatures, we are accountable to Him. Paul mentioned two categories of people; those who are wise and those who are fools (Rom. 1:22). Fools do not recognise the Creator; while the wise realise that the Creator came to earth to reconcile them with God. Don’t be a fool; but be wise and trust God’s promises for our future and be included in His plan for the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).


[1] “Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity” 1809

Written, September 2007


Dinosaurs in the Bible?

Dinosaurs capture the imag­ination of both young and old. They are big, fast, powerful, and sometimes deadly. These mysteries of the ancient world have entertained us all the way from the old Flint-stones cartoon series (currently being revived as a movie), to Bar­ney, the current children’s TV favorite, to Jurassic Park, the block buster movie of a few years ago. But don’t let the current dinosaur-mania, and the idea of evolution that seems to undergird it, either undermine your faith in the God of the Bible or brainwash your children.

What are dinosaurs?

The word “dinosaur’ was coined in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen, who studied the bones of the Igua­nadon and the Megalosaurus. He named this new order of animal the “dinosaur” which means “ter­rible, huge lizard.” The bones studied were fossils of creatures that lived in the past. A fossil is formed when minerals replace parts of the body and turn it into rock. Dinosaurs were amazing creatures. When did they live? What happened to them?

Any facts that we have con­cerning dinosaurs are gathered from fossil remains found in sedimentary rocks. When we consider fossils, we are dealing with evi­dence of past events, much like stu­dents of ancient history or forensic science do. We seek likely explana­tions of the past, which can be tested, but not proven conclusively. We need a witness, just like in a court case. And we have one, God, who was there in the beginning! He is the witness who knows everything, is reliable and has given us the Bible. In the book of Job, He asks, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?” (Job 38:4 NIV).

Dinosaurs in Genesis

The King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611, over 200 years before the word “dinosaur” was coined. For this reason, it does not occur specifically in the Bible, and the influence of evolution probably stopped translators from using it in more modern transla­tions today. There are five events recorded in the Bible that have affected every person on the plan­et: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and the life of Jesus Christ. Three of these shed light on the subject of dinosaurs.

The Creation: Dinosaurs were created on the sixth day with all the other land animals. Adam was also created then, so they lived together. This wasn’t a problem, as they were all plant eaters. Adam and Eve “ruled” over them and Adam named them. God saw that it was “very good” – the Garden of Eden was paradise on earth for both man and dinosaurs! (Gen. 1:25-30; 2:19,20).

The Fall: Adam and Eve’s rebel­lion against God resulted in a dif­ferent world. After their sin, several things came in: suffering, conflict, decay and death. Romans 5:12 says, “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Death affected all creation. Romans 8:21-22 says that all creation is wait­ing to be “liberated from its bondage to decay … We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of child­birth up to the present time.”

The Flood: The earth was full of violence: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become.” He was grieved, and decided to “wipe … from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 6:6-7). This state­ment includes dinosaurs, as does Genesis 6:19-21: “Bring into the ark … two of every kind … of ani­mal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground … to be kept alive.”

Then Genesis 7:11 says that “all springs of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of heaven were opened.” This would have led to erosion and the transport of sediments. It was a worldwide flood, not just a regional one. The ark was needed to save Noah’s family and the animals that were in the ark with him. Except for those in the ark, God destroyed the whole world as punishment for man’s sin and the evil that resulted from it. The flood was a catastrophe involving tremendous amounts of water and upheavals of the earth.

What would we expect to find after the flood? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth. And what do we find? Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth! Sedimentary rock – such as sandstone (from sand), shale (from mud and clay), and con­glomerate (a mixture of both) – covers three quarters of the earth. Fossils required a quick burial –resulting from something such as a catastrophic flood – in mud or

sand that turned into rock. These fossil graveyards are everywhere. They provide us with fossil fuels such as oil – which supplies our world’s entire petro-chemical industry, and coal – a fossil fuel used Worldwide for heat, the pro­duction of electricity and many industrial uses.

Dinosaurs in Job

Except for Genesis 1-11, Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Its main character probably lived about 2,000 BC – after the flood, but before large cities were built again. The book shows that Job’s faith was very strong, despite the suffering he went through. In Chapters 38-42, Job is made to realize the vastness of God’s power as revealed in His creation of the physical and biological world. This realization made Job feel insignificant enough to say, “I know that you can do anything, and that no one can stop you” (Job 42:2). We don’t control the uni­verse – God does. The climax of God’s response to Job is a descrip­tion of the two largest creatures He had created – the behemoth and the leviathan.

The behemoth (Job 40:15-24) was the greatest of land animals. It ate plants; it was strong, powerful, unbothered by raging rivers, and beyond being captured. The leviathan (Job 41), another gigantic beast, lived in the water. It was a creature without fear; it terrified the mighty; it couldn’t be subdued; and the mere sight of it was over­powering. It had fearsome teeth, a flaming mouth and smoking nos­trils. The leviathan is referred to as a dragon in the King James Version and a sea monster in the New Inter­national Version (Isa. 27:1).

Some say these creatures are mythical. But if they are, also referred to in the same passage are a lion, horse, ostrich and eagle, which are not mythical. Some say they are just other words for present day animals such as the hippopota­mus, the elephant and the crocodile. If that’s the case, did the Jews have special words for the first two, but not the third? Or are they the now extinct Bra­chiosaurus and the Plesiosaurus dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs surely would have shown God’s power in creation! But then, any creature with life is amazing and demonstrates God’s creative power — even the smallest of things, such as the DNA mole­cule which carries the genetic code. The dinosaur probably became extinct after the flood, because of the much harsher, drier climate and the ice age; because of less vegetation; and possibly because of the impact of humans who continue to cause other ani­mals to become extinct.

Dinosaurs in evolution

Evolutionary ideas about dino­saurs began at the beginning of the last century with Hutton (1795) and Lyell (1830), who taught that “the present is the key to the past.” They attempted to explain the past by present processes alone. So fossils were interpreted in terms of geologic ages, which are based on theoreti­cal “index fossils” and an “evolu­tionary tree.” They say that dinosaurs lived from 200-70 mil­lion years ago inthe Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Ages. The so-called evolutionary tree pre­sents the idea that all life has evolved by natural processes of development alone over millions of years – from molecules to man.

This idea of an evolutionary tree is held by most scientists. It is presented as a fact, not as a theory, which it is, since it can’t be proven. It is taught in schools, uni­versities, museums and the media. Thus everyone is indoctri­nated. But the Bible says they are wrong. And 2 Peter-3:3-7 says the exact opposite of what evolution­ists teach: “In the last days scoffers will come … But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word … the earth was formed … By water also the world … was deluged and destroyed … The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire.”

The scoffers don’t believe that God created the world. They see no need for a Creator God, so there is no authority (Jud. 21:25). They say there are no moral absolutes, no sin, and, therefore, no need for a Savior! They do not believe that God destroyed the whole world by water. They do not believe that God will judge the world by fire. With no author­ity and no sin, there is no judg­ment or accountability – past, pre­sent or future.

Evolution attacks the very foun­dation of the Christian faith. It says that suffering and death existed from the beginning, before Adam and Eve ever sinned. But God is not the source of suffering and death, and He would never refer to a creation based on evolutionary theories as “good.” God’s purpose was the creation and redemption (or rescue) of mankind, not mil­lions of years of evolution! 1 Timo­thy 6:20-21 says such “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” cause some to “have wandered from the faith.” Don’t let this happen to you!

You decide

Dinosaurs were massive examples of God’s creation, but now they are dead and gone from the face of the earth, and we see them only as fossils. As such, they are merely symbols of God’s judgment of sin. The real examples of God’s judg­ment on the sin and wickedness of mankind are: the destruction caused by the global flood (be reminded of this every time you see sedimentary rock layers); the burning sulfur rained on Sodom and Gomorrah as God’s judgment on evil (verified by fossil remains); the coming tribulation period; and the coming final judgment and destruction by fire (both prophe­sied in the Bible).

Romans 6:23 is God’s provision for us: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eter­nal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Don’t let dinosaurmania and the idea of evolution either under­mine your faith inthe God of the Bible or brainwash your children. Remember that Jurassic Park is just a fictitious, money-making movie with a comment on genetic engi­neering. The Bible tells the real story about the creation, existence and extinction of dinosaurs.

Published, December 1995

Also see: Year of the dragon


The Big Stretch: Creating the stars and galaxies

When I was on vacation in South Australia there were two explosions – one in a restaurant and another in an explosives factory. The debris was scattered across the neighborhood, killing several people. It reminded me of the evolutionists’ idea that the universe was formed from a “big bang.”

According to the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1 NIV). The Hebrew word for “heavens” (samayim) can also refer to the atmosphere (Gen. 8:2); or the sun, moon and stars (Gen. 1:15-17); or God’s dwelling place (Ps. 2:4). At least eleven times, the Bible says that God “stretched out” or “stretches out” the heavens. The context of two of these passages may be the atmosphere (Jer. 10:12; 51:15), for another two it is the stars and galaxies (Job. 9:8; Isa. 45:12), while the remainder relate to either of these alternatives (Ps. 104:2; Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 48:13; 51:13; Zech. 12:1). The theme of all these passages is the greatness of God as Creator of the universe (Isa. 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Zech. 12:1).

The events of creation were supernatural acts of God (Ps. 33:6,9; 102:25). As these events were outside human experience, the Old Testament writers used figurative language as there was no other way to describe them in the Hebrew language. They wrote that God “stretches out the heavens like a tent” (Ps. 104:2), and “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy (or curtain), and spreads them out like a tent to live in” (Isa. 40:22). The Hebrew word natah means to stretch, spread out or extend in every direction. It represents what one does in pitching a tent by unrolling the canvas and “stretching it out.” For example, Abram “pitched (natah) his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east” (Gen. 12:8). As a simile of God’s creation of the heavens, in the six days of creation (Ex. 20:11), God stretched out the heavens like a tent.

The stellar heavens are mentioned on the fourth day of creation: “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky (samayim) to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness” (Gen. 1:14-18).

When we apply this image to the creation of the stars and galaxies we see that God stretched out the heavens (universe) to a vast size to make room for all the stars and galaxies. Vast size and the assumption that the speed of light is constant give the universe an apparent old age. This is like the rest of creation which seems to have been created in a mature form. For example, on the sixth day of creation, God created Adam and Eve as mature adults. They were a unique creation; no other people were created in this manner. Likewise, if the original heavenly bodies were created in a mature form, on the seventh day they would have had an apparent old age.

So God created the stars and the galaxies with a “big stretch” not a “big bang.” The next time you stretch something out, like a tent, remember that in the beginning God stretched out the universe and that the vast expanse of stars and galaxies “declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).

Published, June 2008


I have heard that the Garden of Eden was located in Iraq. Is this true? How do we know?

Genesis presents a summary of the early history of our world. Its writing was inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is not a myth or an allegory or a metaphorical story. In the more detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 we learn that they lived in the Garden of Eden.

The only clues in the Bible of the geographical location of the Garden of Eden are that it was “in the east” (Gen. 2:8 TNIV), and that the river in the garden separated into four rivers named: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates (Gen. 2:8-14). Also, the first three of these rivers flowed through regions named Havilah, Cush and Ashur, respectively.

Garden of Eden

As Moses probably compiled the book of Genesis from ancient documents and oral accounts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we don’t know the reference point used for the statement “in the east.” Some think that Israel/Palestine is the reference point. Also, as we don’t know today of a river that separates into the four rivers named above, the topography of the earth was probably different in those days. The Bible suggests that the continents were once together (Gen. 1:9-10). However, today the continents are separated by oceans, and sedimentary layers with fossil sea shells have been found at the top of many Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest.

Although the Bible doesn’t describe when the continents moved apart, it is likely that the earth’s landscape was changed significantly by the catastrophic global flood survived only by Noah’s family. “Every creature that has the breath of life in it” perished in this disaster and everything that existed before the flood was “deluged and destroyed” (Gen. 7:17; 8:21; 2 Pet. 3:5–6). Not only did it rain for 40 days, but “all the springs (fountains) of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of heaven were opened” (Gen. 7:11-12). The springs (or fountains) of the great deep may have been oceanic or subterranean water. This immense flood is the most likely source of the thickest layers of sedimentary rock on earth.

The abating flood waters may have been associated with the uplift of mountains and the sinking of valleys (Ps. 104:6-8). When the mountains rose, the flood waters eroded the land and flowed into the seas (Job 38:8-11). As there are many volcanic rocks interspersed between fossil layers, there may have also been volcanic eruptions at this time. For example, Mt. Ararat in Turkey is a volcanic cone near the junction of the Eurasian, African and Arabian crustal plates. Catastrophic plate collisions may have pushed up creating mountains at this time. If this is so, then God used the tectonic forces associated with the flood and its aftermath to alter the earth’s topography. It was a new start for our planet. (See the parallels between Gen. 1:28-30 and 9:1-5).

After the flood, Noah’s family moved to the Shinar plain (Sumeria/ Babylonia) where we find rivers today called Tigris and Euphrates. Because they flow above flood-deposited layers of rock containing billions of fossils, these are not the same rivers that flowed from the Garden of Eden. They were probably named after the original pre-flood rivers, just as settlers from the British Isles to America and Australasia gave familiar names to many places in their “new world.”

As the Garden of Eden was destroyed in the flood and covered by thick sediment and maybe even water, there is no such place today, and its location on the globe can’t be established with certainty. So, although it may have been located in Iraq, or somewhere nearby, in the days of Adam and Eve, we don’t know where Eden is today.

Published, February 2011


What Happens If We Reject The Creator? Part 2

In part one we considered how God reveals Himself as the Creator and how two civilizations rejected this. In part two, the conclusion, we will look at the consequences of this rejection, and what we should do.

Idolatry
Paul described those who reject God’s revelation of Himself in the universe He made: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles … They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:21-25).

If we reject the concept of a Creator, we choose something else to be our god. We worship a part of creation such as something in the physical world, a human idea or a philosophy. We live for this and act as though there is no Creator. Such people become foolish and ignorant – their mind is affected. They follow false philosophies and speculations and choose to believe lies. An idol is a lie, a false representation of God. Meanwhile, they claim to be wise. What arrogance!

Idolatry is linked with demons: “The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God” (Dt. 32:17; Ps. 106:37; 1 Cor. 10:19-21; Rev. 9:20). Remember that Eve was deceived by Satan and thereby disobeyed God. Likewise, it seems as though people are deceived by demons to reject the Creator and follow idols instead.

God lets them go their own way
Next Paul described God’s response: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another … Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Rom. 1:24-28).

Note that the phrase “God gave them over” is mentioned three times in this passage (vv. 24, 26, 28). God let these people go their own way into sexual immorality (fornication, adultery, prostitution, and pornography), homosexuality, and a life of depravity driven by their evil minds. The latter includes wickedness and evil such as: greed, envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice; being gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful; disobedient to parents; senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless (vv. 29-32). This kind of behavior suppresses the truth (v. 18).

This describes a loss of law and order and knowing what is right and wrong. The Bible gives an example: when Israel had no king, everyone did what they thought was right (Jud. 21:25). You see, it destroys the foundation of society and of morality. Without a Creator there is no stable basis for right and wrong. If we reject the concept of a Creator, we also reject the possibility of being accountable for our behavior, and we reject the Bible as a guide on how to live. This means that each person decides for him/herself what is right and wrong. As we live in a “cause and effect” universe, such actions have consequences – the Bible says we harvest what we plant (Gal. 6:7-9).

So what happens if we reject the Creator? We turn to idolatry and indulge in sinful behavior that deserves God’s judgment (Rom. 1:18; 2 Ki. 22:17). Now let’s look at what we should do with this information.

Remember your Creator
The first thing we can do is “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come” (Eccl. 12:1). Here King Solomon reminded us that life is brief, and we need to do the important things before we get old and it’s too late. Don’t think you can reject the Creator now, and then change your mind later. That’s rare, because those who follow this way don’t even think about God (Rom. 1:28).

If we know that God is the great Creator, then like Paul, we should tell others about Him. This is important for all ages, particularly the young, as they are more receptive to the message. Local churches should support youth evangelism because that’s where many are added to God’s Kingdom.

History repeats itself, because people seldom learn from other people’s experience. We live in a society that is becoming more pagan, like Canaan and Athens was. We need to see the dangers of idolatry, sexual immorality and wickedness in society. We need to distinguish between the Creator and the creation.

For example, John worshiped an angel who gave him a message, but was told to “worship God” instead (Rev. 19:9-10). Even though the angel said “These are the true words of God,” John confused the messenger with the source of the message. He had to be reminded to worship God and not angels. Likewise, we need to worship the Creator and not created things.

Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife!” She became attracted to the evil in Sodom (Lk. 17:32). We should not become attracted to the evil of the world. Instead, we should remember Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead (2 Tim. 2:8). After all, He is the Creator even though “the world did not recognize Him” (Jn. 1:10). We can do this by reading the Bible, by prayer and by participating in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11: 24-25). Of course, we can also admire the beauty of God’s creation in a garden, a sunset, the night sky, at the beach, in the mountains and on the plains.

Start at the beginning
The second thing we can do is make sure that we use the story of creation when speaking to those who are not familiar with the Bible. If they need to be introduced to the Bible, start at the beginning with the creation of the world and the origin of sin. Actually there were three beginnings: Adam and Eve’s, Noah’s, and Jesus’, who brings a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). Tell them about the first beginning before you tell them about the third. Otherwise, it’s like starting midway through a story.

People nowadays are not familiar with the Bible or the concept of a Creator. They have lost the knowledge of the Creator. If we want to bring them to trust Christ as their Savior, we need to go back to the beginning of the Bible and help them realize that God created the universe and that Adam and Eve rebelled against Him. Since that time, we have all inherited a rebellious nature. It is important to deal with this, as it is impossible to accept the Savior while rejecting the Creator.

The message for today
What would Paul say if he could speak to us today? He might say something like this: “Surely humanity has advanced significantly in the past 2,000 years. Yes, knowledge has increased and technology has advanced. But unfortunately, the Creator is still an ‘unknown God’ to many people. Many today are devoted to the products of our increased knowledge, and believe that there is no need for a Creator. Unfortunately, although we have gained knowledge, we have lost wisdom, and the Bible calls this ignorance and foolishness. So my message given at Athens (Acts 17:16-34) is still relevant today.”

What happens if we reject the Creator? We follow idols and wicked ways. This leads to God’s judgment. Let’s turn this around by remembering the Creator and starting at the beginning when we bring God’s message in the Bible to others.

Published: June 2004

See part 1 of this series:
- What happens if we reject the Creator?: Part 1


What Happens If We Reject The Creator? Part 1

Did you know that our view of the physical world can strongly influence our thoughts, our behavior and our future?

From its first verse, the Bible clearly teaches that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This message is the foundation of the Christian faith, and is repeated throughout the Bible. In Job, the oldest book of the Bible, God says, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” and “Everything under heaven belongs to Me” (Job 38:4; 41:11 NIV). Paul wrote, “All things were created by Him” (Col. 1:16). And the last book of the Bible says God, “created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it” (Rev. 10:6).

The Bible tells us how God communicated to mankind and how people have responded since the beginning of recorded history. Our key reference for this article is Romans 1:18-32. Read it now.

The Universe: A Revelation Of God
Paul summarized how God has revealed Himself to humanity through the physical world. Regarding wicked people, he wrote: “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20).

People have no excuse for not knowing God; it should be instinctive. They have no excuse for rejecting the Creator. Instinct is a programmed response that is essential for life. Our two pet rabbits have dug a burrow in the ground without ever being taught to do so by another rabbit. Some of our body functions that are instinctive are: our heart beat, blood circulation, digestion and breathing. A breakdown of any of these systems is life threatening. The same applies to our knowledge of the Creator.

God reveals Himself to us through His creation. We all see this every day – in people, plants, animals, earth, sun, moon and stars. They are evidence of a great Creator. God is the only Creator of energy, matter and life; He is the ruler of the universe. By looking at the beauty and complexity of creation – whether on the large scale of stars and galaxies, or the small scale of atoms and molecules – anyone can know there is a God.

King David expressed this well in a song of praise: “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak: night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or a word: their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world” (Ps. 19:1-4 nlt).

The existence of the physical world is a message of God’s creatorial power. This is called God’s general revelation of Himself. It is available to everyone no matter where or when they lived and it doesn’t depend on knowing the Bible. People in ancient times would have also heard by word of mouth, as Adam and Eve would have passed on the account of God’s great creation to their descendants. So people originally knew God the Creator, but this knowledge was lost over time.

Moses compiled the record of the early history of our earth in the book of Genesis. He recorded man’s failures including: Adam and Eve’s disobedience, Cain’s murder of Abel, Lamech’s violence, the prevalence of evil before the great flood, the behavior that caused Canaan to be cursed, Nimrod building Babylon in rebellion against God, and building the tower of Babel as a monument to man’s greatness (Gen 3:6; 4:8,23; 6:5; 9:24; 10:8-12; 11:2-4). These were all symptoms of man forgetting the Creator.

The Canaanites
Then we read that Abraham travelled from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. Clearly both these civilizations rejected all evidence of the Creator. Ur, the capital of the Second Sumerian State, was a center of pagan idolatry where people worshiped many gods (Gen. 11:31; Josh. 24:2). They also kept careful records of the movements of the planets and stars and had a form of astrology in which they associated the planets and stars with their gods and goddesses. After Ur was destroyed it was replaced by Babylon as the dominant city in the Middle East.

The Canaanites also worshiped idols. They explained nature by reference to their gods and goddesses – such as Baal, the god of the rain and storms, and Asherah, the goddess of the sea and fertility. They had a pantheon of gods under the control of El, the creator of created things, and his counterpart Asherah, the mother goddess. Kings were regarded as divine, and former kings were invoked as saviors.

Canaanite religion was the most sexually depraved of any in the ancient world; male and female prostitution and sexual fertility rites were common (Dt. 23:17,18). Drunkenness and immorality were prevalent during their religious celebrations. The Canaanites also mutilated their bodies (Dt. 14:1-2). Led by Joshua, the Hebrews came out of the desert to invade Canaan in 1440 bc. At this time many tribal groups lived in the area.

The Hebrews were forbidden to worship the Canaanite gods. Instead, they were to destroy their objects of worship, destroy the Canaanites, and not intermarry with them (Ex. 23:23-24; 34:11-16; Dt. 7:1-5; 20:17-18). However, we know they disobeyed God: Judah’s first mistake was in marrying a Canaanite woman (Gen. 38:2). This led to the idolatry and evil practices that were later removed by King Josiah (2 Ki. 23:4-25). These included: shrines and articles made for idols such as Baal, Asherah and all the starry hosts; pagan priests “who burnt incense to Baal, to the sun, and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts”; male shrine-prostitutes; child sacrifices; horses and chariots dedicated to the sun; spirit mediums and seance leaders; and household gods.

Clearly the Canaanites rejected the Creator and turned to idolatry and wickedness. As a result they were judged by God when Josiah was king.

The Athenians
When Paul visited Athens, “he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16). Athens was a great cultural, educational and religious center – the most important university city in the ancient world. It contained several temples to honor the goddess Athena, and its citizens would have also worshiped their emperor.

The Acropolis in Athens was decorated with buildings and sculptures such as the Parthenon and the immense statue of Athena which was over 10 meters (33 ft.) high. The Athenians worshiped the great Greek gods and their Roman equivalents including Zeus (Jupiter), Hera (Juno), Poseidon (Neptune), Demeter (Ceres), Apollo (no Roman equivalent), Artemis (Diana), Ares (Mars), Aphrodite (Venus), Hermes (Mercury), Athena (Minerva), Hephaestos (Vulcan), Hestia (Vesta) and Dionysus (Bacchus) .

Paul spoke with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. The Epicureans lived for pleasure, while the Stoics were pantheists who avoided expressing their emotions. The Greeks were well known for their philosophers – such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – so it’s not surprising that a favorite activity in Athens was to discuss “the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21).

When Paul preached in Athens his topic was “An Unknown God.” He knew the Athenians were “very religious,” so he introduced them to “The God who made the world and everything in it” – the very source of life (Acts 24-25). Like the ancient Canaanites, the Athenians had lost the knowledge of the Creator. They forgot that design demands a designer, and a complex world requires an intelligent Creator – nature didn’t create itself.

In Athens Paul declared that all nations who live on earth come from a common ancestor, Adam. Then he pointed out how the Greeks were worshiping something of their own creation – idols made of gold, silver and stone. What ignorance! God isn’t like anything that humans have thought up and made. The truth according to the Bible is that God made us; we don’t make Him with our hands or our minds.

Then Paul urged them to turn to the true Creator God in order to escape His coming judgment. He gives a clue on how this is possible by mentioning that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.

Published: May 2004

See Part 2 of this article:
- What happens if we reject the Creator?: Part 2


The Idol Of Evolution: Part 2

Evaluating a common belief

In part one we applied three tests to determine that evolution is inconsistent with the Bible. In part two we will look more closely at the error of evolution and the truth of creation.

Did God Use Evolution?
It is clear that the theory of evolution, as taught in schools and universities and applied across the world, has no need for a Creator or God. But what about the possibility that God used evolution to create life after all? Can an evolutionary model be accommodated with the Bible? When we apply the three tests, this possibility may appear to pass the Jesus test. But the second question in the gospel test presents a challenge: Does it acknowledge our sinfulness?

The Bible teaches that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, and that it brought death to mankind (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Adam was told “to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19). This was the origin of decay and death in our world. It affected all of God’s creation, so that it was “subjected to frustration,” is “in bondage to decay,” and is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:20-22). This is suggested in God’s words to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you,” and “It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (Gen. 3:17-18). The implication is that before this time in history there was no decay or death. This is consistent with the statement that the creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31).

In contrast, the evolutionary explanation of life assumes death has existed from the beginning of life, long before mankind was present. In fact, the theory of evolution relies on the death of many generations and claims that this is supported by fossils.

I can see no way of fitting the origin of sin and death as described in the Bible into the evolutionary explanation for life or vice versa, without disregarding essential parts of either. The Bible teaches that death is a consequence of mankind’s sin, whereas according to evolution death is merely a characteristic of the natural world.

The Bible and the theory of evolution also differ concerning the last point in the gospel test, the restoration of all things. Scripture states that Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets” (Acts 3:21). Although this may refer to the restoration of the nation of Israel (Acts 1:6), it is also consistent with the liberation from decay that all creation anticipates; a return to a time of no more sin or death, like it was before Adam and Eve sinned (Isa. 25:8; Rom. 8:21; 1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 21:4). Christ called this the “renewal of all things” (Mt. 19:28). It has also been described as “paradise,” a word that is linked via the tree of life to the garden of Eden and to heaven (Gen. 2:9; Rev. 2:7; 22:2).

On the other hand, according to the theory of evolution there was no paradise at the beginning of time. This is inconsistent with a “restoration” or “renewal” to paradise at the end of time. So one can believe in either “evolution” or “paradise” but not both, because they are contradictory.

So to believe that God used evolution is inconsistent with either the Bible or the evolutionary model. It usually results in compromising the Christian faith and leads to a “different gospel,” where the words of “sin” and “Savior” have a different meaning from the Bible (Gal. 1:6-9). The Bible warns that those who add to or take away from the true gospel will be eternally condemned (Gal. 1:8-9).

Some debate as to whether Genesis 1 and 2 are literal or symbolic. This is answered best by comparing them with what the rest of the Bible says about the topics raised in these chapters. Scripture should be used to interpret Scripture whenever possible.

Adam is included in Joseph’s genealogy (Lk. 3:38) and is referred to as a real man like Moses, Enoch and Christ (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22,45; 1 Tim. 2:13,14; Jude 14), while Eve is also mentioned as a real woman in the New Testament (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13). The description of the creation of Eve in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12 and 1 Timothy 2:13 is consistent with Genesis 2:21-23. The Bible teaches that sin and death came through one man, Adam; just as salvation came through one man, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:12,15-19; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). The origin of marriage described in Genesis 2:24 is quoted in Mark 10:7-8 and Ephesians 5:31. Peter’s description of creation in 2 Peter 3:5 is consistent with Genesis 1:6-9. These examples show that the New Testament writers treated the events and people in Genesis 1 and 2 as being true history and not poetic or metaphoric.

A Modern Idol
As shown above, the naturalistic view of origins is in conflict with the Bible and it undermines Christianity. As such it is a “deceptive philosophy” that is “falsely called knowledge” (Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20-21). Unfortunately it has deceived many and has caused many minds to be led astray (2 Cor. 11:3). It is a modern myth and false worldview that is based on false assumptions.

The consequence of rejecting the truth of the gospel is to believe a lie, such as evolution, and worship part of God’s creation (Rom. 1:18-25). An idol is a false god or a false idea that lacks substance (Gal. 4:8-9). Although we may not worship images as was done in Athens, idolatry is prevalent today and the idea of evolution is a major idol of our times (Acts 17:22-23). Idolatry and the widely-held theory of evolution are both substitutes for the concept of the Creator God. Christians are warned to “Keep yourselves from idols” and “flee from idolatry” because they enslave us (1 Cor. 10:14; Gal. 4:8-9; 1 Jn. 5:21).

Furthermore, the leading evolutionists are particularly opposed to Christianity. In fact, evolution functions as a rallying point against Christianity. In view of the above, if we could be addressed by two New Testament figures, Paul and Christ, I could imagine Paul saying, “People of 2001, I see you are devoted to the theory of evolution,” and Christ warning, “Be on your guard against the cancer of evolution” (Acts 17:22; Mt. 16:6).

The Evolution Of Words
The English word “evolve” is derived from a Latin word that means to unroll or to unfold. In this sense it means to grow or mature, which involves no change in genetic information. However, the wide acceptance of the evolutionary explanation of the origin of life has led to the use of the word “evolution” to replace words such as “change” and “development.” For example, “the evolution of the airplane.” This is an example of a change in the meaning of a word over time.

Another word that has changed its meaning is “science” which comes from the Latin word for “knowledge.” The meaning of “science” has changed over time, from dealing with things that are observable and testable, to mean “naturalism” – a mechanistic view of the world. As a consequence, some science is only loosely based on what is observable and testable, and claims are often made in the name of “science” that go far beyond the available evidence. This has led to aspects of modern science becoming increasingly tenuous and speculative by including conjecture and dubious hypotheses.

Although we live in a “cause and effect” universe, ultimate causes, such as origins, are outside the realm of reliable science. Science can only reliably deal with the present world, and some aspects of the past and the future. It can’t reliably deal with the distant past, such as origins, or the long-term future, such as ultimate destinies, as it cannot directly observe these. All scientists should be wary of their assumptions, as these can largely determine their findings. They should also be wary of extrapolations outside the range of their observations. The further the extrapolation the less reliable the prediction, because changes made in the assumptions outside the range of observations will change the prediction. This applies in particular to boundary conditions, such as those involving initial conditions or origins. Therefore, scientists can only speculate, imagine and guess about the origin of life.

The Truth
The complexity of life on earth points to an intelligent designer and creator. The Bible says that Christ is the author of life; He made all things and continues to sustain everything (Jn. 1:3; Acts 3:15, Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2-3). Evolution begins with matter, but where did this come from? The only reasonable answer possible for those following this viewpoint is to say that matter has always existed and is eternal. On the other hand, the Bible begins with God who is eternal and has the power to create matter out of nothing and to create the complex design that is evident in life and the universe. After all, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (Heb. 11:3).

The Bible implies that there are clear genetic distinctions between the groups of creatures on earth. God created them “according to their kinds” and “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another” (Gen. 1:21,24-25; 1 Cor. 15:39). It emphasizes that humanity is unique in the sense of being made “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:27). There is no suggestion of all life having a common ancestry.

It is not surprising that not all will accept the biblical account of origins, as Christians are warned that some will “distort the truth” (Acts 20:30), and others suppress and reject the truth in order to promote lies and myths (Rom. 1:18,25; 2:8; 2 Tim. 4:4). We should be alert as “even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Don’t be deceived or accept explanations, ideas or philosophies without checking them against the Scriptures. Seek the truth by asking questions such as those in the three tests outlined in part one of this article. Be a critical thinker, have a discerning mind.

Published: June 2001

See Part 1 of this article:
- The idol of evolution: Part 1


The Idol Of Evolution: Part 1

Evaluating a common belief

Many different opinions and ideas are held by people in the world. We are bombarded by merchandisers and marketers who will sell anything to make a dollar. The Bible does not say “believe everything,” but instead urges us to: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Th. 5:21-22 NIV). We need to be able to separate the good from the bad, the true and valuable from the false and worthless (Jer. 15:19). Our culture has lost these distinctions. Unfortunately, we can’t rely on information and guidance from family, friends, schools, universities, newspapers, magazines, books, movies, radio, television, or the Internet.

If we do, we will end up confused like the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:37-38). We will be influenced by all the messages around us, not knowing the truth, or believing the lies that are marketed as being the truth. For example, let’s look at the theory of evolution, a firmly held belief of many. According to the Bible, is it true, or false, or doesn’t it matter?

True Or False

Children are easily deceived; they are gullible. So are those young in the Christian faith. But the mature are not deceived as they “have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” and we should all have this objective (Heb. 5:14).

The Bible is the source of absolute truth that has stood the test of time much longer than any other document or philosophy. Of course, as is the case of any literature, it requires interpretation as to what is historical and what is metaphorical or symbolic. Besides obvious literary techniques, the most reliable method is to use the whole message of the Bible to interpret any particular passage. Otherwise, an interpretation may not be consistent with the rest of the Bible.

The Bible contains three clear tests for determining whether a belief, teaching or philosophy is true or false. To be true it must pass each of the three tests that get to the core of Christianity. I call them the Jesus test, the gospel test and the fruit test. They may be summarized as:

  • The Jesus test – What does it say about Jesus Christ? Is it consistent with Christ’s unique birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, resurrection, and second coming? (1 Jn. 4:1-3)
  • The gospel test – What is the core belief or hope? Does it acknowledge our sinfulness? Is it consistent with the creation of the universe, the fall into sin, salvation by faith in Christ alone, and the restoration of all things? (Gal. 1:6-9)
  • The fruit test – What attitudes and behaviors does it encourage? Is the divine nature or the sinful nature most evident? (Mt. 7:15-20)

Testing Evolution

Evolution has been proposed as a scientific explanation of the origin of the universe and the origin of life on earth. It involves the idea that life develops continually over time from the simple to the more complex as a result of natural processes. The story of evolution has been summarized this way: “The universe exploded into existence about 15 billion years ago and is still expanding outward. About 4.5 billion years ago, the debris from an exploding star condensed into our solar system. Sometime during the next few hundred million years, single-celled microbes bearing an ingenious molecule called DNA emerged on the earth. These microbes diversified, by means of natural selection and Mendelian genetics, into an extraordinary array of more complex creatures including homo-sapiens.” As these events are claimed to have occurred long ago and are not subject to direct observation or experimental tests, evolution is a philosophical belief based on naturalism which assumes that everything that exists can be explained by physical and chemical processes alone. Evolution is the process that is used to support naturalism. Of course, evolution is also viewed as being a process of continual change within the biological world. So, evolution and naturalism are assumed to be true by those who exclude the possibility of a supernatural God.

Now let’s apply the three tests to the concept of the evolution of life on earth.

  • The Jesus test – As evolution assumes that nature is all there is, it is associated with atheism. In fact, according to its adherents, evolution removes the need for God. For example, the American Association of Biology Teachers says this: “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.” This view of origins has no need for a Creator or the divine, and so is consistent with a belief that Jesus Christ was only a human being and not divine. Secular evolution clearly fails the Jesus test.
  • The gospel test – As evolution assumes there is no God, it is associated with a rejection of absolute standards of right and wrong, and a rejection of the existence of sin in the sense of falling short of God’s standard. If sin does not exist, then neither does punishment for sin, and there is no need of a savior to rescue people from that punishment. The core belief of evolution is that nature has made itself, which means that the Genesis account of origins is not literal truth. In fact, secular evolution fails the gospel test because it rejects all the basic biblical truths, such as divine creation, the existence and source of evil, the need for salvation, and the ultimate destiny of human beings.
  • The fruit test – Because it relies on physical processes alone and denies the possibility of the divine or the unseen spiritual world, evolution supports naturalism and materialism. Also, it views humanity as being self-sufficient and capable of solving all their own difficulties, which is the essence of humanism. Furthermore, evolution can be viewed as a version of pantheism where nature replaces God.The acceptance of the idea of evolution can lead to the following pattern of behavior:Less value on human life – For example, practices such as abortion and euthanasia are more acceptable. Another example from the past is racism; the Australian Aboriginals were considered to be biologically inferior to Europeans. This was justified by biological determinism promoted by evolutionary anthropology.Less value on family life – Marriage is less important and divorce is more acceptable. This is supported by relating human behavior to that of animals.Less value on morals – Truth is now relative and changeable, not absolute. Society replaces Scripture as the guide as to what is right and what is wrong.A “might is right” attitude – This attitude supports the strong, but not the weak. It is the opposite of compassion which involves saving “weak genes.” This comes from the idea of the “survival of the fittest” in a competitive world, which leads to a competitive approach to all aspects of life.As these are opposite to the values of the Bible, it is clear from the above that biological evolution fails all three biblical tests for determining what is true. Therefore, it is false and inconsistent with the overall message of the Bible. It is an idol – the creation story and the religion of many today.

Published: May 2001

See the next article in this series:
- The idol of evolution: Part 2


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