Questions and answers about Genesis
The Bible gives a selective history of the earth from its creation to its demise. Many question this. Did you know that there are answers to your questions? Here’s the answers to some questions that were asked recently.
This post is based on questions and answers after a presentation by Dr Mark Harwood of Creation Ministries International (CMI).
1. Who created God?
This question is often raised as the atheist’s number one objection to Christianity. When Moses came to the burning bush, he asked God, who will I say sent me (Ex. 3:13-14)? And the answer God gave was very important, He said, tell them the “I am” sent you. The “I am” means that He has always existed, is existing, and always will exist. It’s present continuous tense. So what God is saying to Moses is that I have always been.
Anything which has a beginning must have been made. There is a scientific law called the law of cause and effect: everything that has a beginning has a maker. So, when we look at the world around us, we see that it must have had a beginning. And scientists recognize that. And the reason we know it had a beginning is because this world is running down. It’s due to the second law of thermodynamics. But it hasn’t yet run down. If it was infinitely old, it would have run down by now. So, it must have had a beginning. If the universe had a beginning, it must have been made. So, there must have been a creator. Now you can just look at the world around you and conclude that, you don’t need to open your Bible. But God didn’t have a beginning, so He was not ever made. He’s eternal; He always has been. So, I don’t worship something that has been created. I worship the Creator of all things. So, to ask, “who made God?” is like asking who is the bachelor’s wife? Of course, a bachelor doesn’t have a wife. So, to ask, “Who made God?” fails to realize that God is self-existent and eternal. He had no maker. He has no beginning.
2. How could the first three days of creation be 24 hours when the sun wasn’t created until day 4?
On the first day God created the heavens and the earth, so the earth is there. It says that He created the light and separated the day from the night. So, what that tells us is that we have light coming from one direction. So, you have a dark side of the earth and a light side. And it tells us that the earth is rotating because it says that there was evening and there was morning, one day. So, in the Hebrew language that is a cardinal number, not an ordinal number. It’s not saying the first day. It means one day. It defines what a day is, one cycle of the rotating earth. Then the second day comes. It says, second, that is an ordinal number. And that is followed by the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th days. So, all we need for a day is a rotating earth and a unidirectional source of light. And that’s what we have on day one.
On day 4, God creates the physical sun in the same orientation so that the cycle of day and night is maintained unbroken. We know it is unbroken because in Exodus 20:11 it says in the context of the commandment to keep the Sabbath day, “For 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”. So, there must have been a clear 6-day pattern for that instruction to the Israelites to have made any sense. So, you don’t need the sun, just a unidirectional source of light and the rotating earth and you get the three days and God makes the sun on the 4th day.
3. Did Pangea exist?
Geologists look at the shape of the continents and the tectonic plates they are on, and they can kind of fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle into one large landmass. They assume that over millions of years, the continents broke apart from a single landmass called Pangea and moved to their present positions. Today they look at the rate these continental plates are moving (called continental drift). And so, they wind the clock backwards using the uniformitarian principle and so they say it must have taken millions of years to have migrated to where they are now. Interestingly, on day 3 of creation; “And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:9-1). That implies that there was one large landmass and one ocean. Whatever shape we don’t know.
But when the flood came it’s likely that there was a catastrophic process of fracturing of the earth’s crust and those plates massively in the course of the year-long flood. So, it wasn’t continent drift, but continental sprint! We would say that most of the movement would have happened in the year of the flood and what we see now is the aftermath – the slow gradual movement. We can’t wind the clock back and see it all because we didn’t observe it. And there are lots of challenges to that model. But it seems to make a lot of sense and it is not inconsistent with what Genesis implies, that there was one landmass. So, I think that Pangea probably did exist. By the way, Pangea is the name that geologists give it today.
4. Why did a perfect Creator allow imperfection to enter into what was good and perfect?
That’s a good question. People say that God could have stopped Adam and Eve from eating the fruit and rebelling against Him. But God made us in His image, which means we are relational people. God was looking for us to love Him of our own free will and volition (choice). About 47.5 years ago my wife and I got married. But she didn’t have to do that. She expressed her love for me, and I expressed my love for her by choosing each other to the exclusion of everyone else. So there had to be an opportunity for Adam and Eve to choose to remain in relationship with God. Because they had that nature, that opportunity was there. Sadly, they chose badly. And that was where they broke relationship with God and death and suffering therefore came into the world.
5. If radiometric dating methods are inaccurate, why are they so widely used?
Radiometric dating methods are rarely used alone. Newspapers or magazines may quote an age that was dated by potassium-argon (K-Ar) or uranium-lead (U-Pb) dating. But the scientists who do those measurements always compare the result with other things in the field. For example, a geologist who is looking at a layer of rock will look at the layers above and the layers below. And if he knows that the geological community accepts the layer above as being, say, 200 million years old, then the layer under this must be older than 200 million years. If he gets a radiometric date for that layer which is younger than 200 million years, he knows that it is wrong, because you can’t have something younger underneath something that is older than it, because the idea is that it all builds up slowly upwards from the bottom. So, he will discard the obviously wrong results and select one which is older than 200 million years.
When data comes back from a dating laboratory it always scatters and the different dating methods don’t all line up. So, scientists select the data which tells the best story. But unfortunately, they filter it with what they already believe the story to be. So radiometric dating is rarely used in isolation. It is almost always used in comparison with other information. And it helps people do relative ages. But the underlying assumption is the evolutionary one. They are doing it against a backdrop of millions and millions of years.
6. Why are there no human skeletons found in fossil sediments laid down by the flood.
Actually, we are not sure that this is true. Often people will say, why don’t we find human fossils with dinosaur fossils? But you could ask that question of any pairs of animals. Because there is a view that people generally get from the evolutionary story that the fossil record is a neatly arranged progression that goes from so-called primitive creatures (trilobites, clams, and marine fossils) all the way up to the higher order animals at the top. Now there is a broad trend, that’s true, but in reality, the fossil record is a jumbled mess and there are many examples of that. In Tasmania there is a place called Fossil Bluff near Wynyard on the northern coastline where the fossil remains of a possum are found in the same strata as the fossil remains of a whale. But possums and whales don’t live in the same ecosystem! And there are many other examples of that. Fish fossils with a horse for instance.
In the flood, the waters are progressively inundating the land masses. The higher order creatures can, generally, escape to higher ground. But marine creatures haven’t got anywhere to go. Clams don’t run very fast! If you have a lot of sediment being dumped into the oceans it’s going to cover over the marine creatures very early on. The higher order animals will be later in the fossil record. Finally, you’ll have the larger vertebrates, like human beings at the top. Now when the flood begins to subside, the Bible says that the mountains rose up and the valleys sank down (Ps. 104:8). The first thing that happens is that all the water starts to flow off the continents in huge sheets. First of all, cutting (planing) flat surfaces (plateaus) like the center of Australia, the Canadian prairies, and the Russian steppes, which are water formed. But what water does today is to form gullies and canyons. It doesn’t leave large flat surfaces – they are a mystery today. But not if you think of it in terms of the flood. But those layers that are being cut first are those which were deposited last. Which would have included most of the vertebrate fossils.
The fossil record is about 95% marine. Only a very small proportion are vertebrate fossils. But there was a lot of mixing due to the turbulent nature of the flood. People have tried to estimate the population of the earth around the time of the flood and estimated that today you would expect to find about one human fossil per 70 cubic kilometers of the earth’s crust. So, the chances of finding those are extremely low. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
Despite all that, maybe some of the fossils that have been found were in fact flood deposited. There is still lots of debate about it. One of the challenges we have is that the amount of tax-funded resource that goes into the secular research organizations looking at the fossil record from an evolutionary perspective vastly exceeds the amount of money going into the creationist research. And often creationists cannot get access to the raw data. We rely upon what is published, but unfortunately a lot of the published material just selects what they want to publish because it tells the story that they genuinely believe is true. But if you can get to the raw data you can discover more interesting things.
7. We are told that the indigenous people have been in Australia for about 65,000 years. But according to the Bible, creation was about 6,000 years ago. Where do the 65,000 years come from?
Clearly, these accounts are not consistent. Once again, we go back to Bible history to understand what happened. After the flood of Noah comes the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9). God had commanded people to spread out across the earth after the flood (Gen. 9:1, 7). Unfortunately, we continued to be disobedient and the Bible says we gathered together in one place and there we started to build a great city with a huge tower to make a name for ourselves. The Bible says that God came down and confused the languages of the people. Imagine what that would be like. At that point in time there was only one language spoken. Adam and Eve had a language which they taught to their children, which they taught to their children, and so on. So, everyone spoke the same language and understood exactly what everybody said. But one day you try to speak to someone you spoke with yesterday, but today you can’t communicate because they are babbling away oddly! What is going on? Now you would very quickly realize this was very serious. Something profound has happened. I can imagine terrible fear and confusion. Maybe even violence would break out. And in the middle of it all I discover someone who can talk to me. And we would get together and say, what’s happening? And small groups of common language would form up and we would flee away from the tower.
Now something interesting happens when people in small population groups start to reproduce. In a large population, recessive genes can’t express their characteristics very freely – they get swapped by the dominant ones. But in a small population they can. And so, things like different facial features can emerge and get locked in by natural selection (which by the way is not evolution). And in particular, skin color. So, you have all these things like, eye shape, nose shape, hair color, and skin color. And these different groups take on different physical attributes fairly quickly after they spread away from the tower of Babel depending on what parts of the earth they go to, with different languages. That’s the origin of all the ethnic groups including the Australian Aboriginal. So, they spread away from the tower of Babel. The Australian Aboriginals probably migrated across India towards Indonesia. In fact, in Sri Lanka there is a group of people called the Vedda people who look just like Australian Aboriginals. And amazingly there are words in their vocabulary which are shared by Australian Aboriginal people. So, people spread out across the earth.
Now there is one other mechanism that assists migration across the earth. There would have been a lot of volcanic eruptions happening during the flood. Immediately after the flood this would cause warm oceans and volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere blocking out the sun to give a cold landmass. The warm oceans cause lots of evaporation which precipitates down as ice and snow and sleet. This triggers an ice age. Now the evolutionists believe there were multiple ice ages, but they don’t have a mechanism for them. Although theories abound, no one really knows what causes ice ages. And the secular geologists are actually stumped. But the flood of Noah triggers an ice age. It would have lasted for several centuries. The ice didn’t cover the whole of the earth, unlike what some Disney movies depict. There would be large expanses around the polar ice cap extending to the middle latitudes. But the equatorial regions would still be free of ice.
All that precipitation and ice would have lowered the level of the oceans. If we lower the sea level by 100 meters, land bridges appear like across the Bering Strait, across the Indonesian archipelago. England is linked to Europe. Papua New Guinea and Tasmania are linked to Australia. You could virtually walk from the Middle East to Tasmania, to Ireland, to North America and all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. After several centuries the ocean levels rose again and those land bridges were broken. In the meantime, animals (after the flood) and people (after the Tower of Babel) would have had ready migration routes all around the world. So as the oceans rose when the ice age ended, those land bridges would be cut to be left with the distribution of animals and people you see today.
So, the Australian Aboriginals would have arrived in Australia 500-1000 years after the Tower of Babel depending on how quickly they made that migration. So, they would have been in Australia for perhaps no more than 3,000 years. Interestingly, when Europeans arrived in Australia anecdotal evidence suggests there would have been 300,000 to one million Aboriginal people here. No more. And if you do the population statistics – if they had been here for about 3,000 years at a reasonably conservative growth rate (because it was a tough country to live in), you get about one million people as the upper limit for the population of Aboriginal people. So Biblical history is consistent with this evidence. Now if they had been here for 60,000 years, the whole of Australia would be packed with Aboriginal people. But it wasn’t. So once again, observations are consistent with the Bible’s record of history and not the assumptions of deep time.
This post is based on questions and answers after a presentation on “Genesis and the gospel” by Dr Mark Harwood of Creation Ministries International (CMI).
Posted, August 2021
Also see: The dangers of theistic evolution