It has become fashionable amongst Christians to see the Genesis account of creation as not literal.
The reason is mainly an attempt to find common ground between so-called “science” and the Bible.
The problem with “science”
There is a proper way and an improper way of “doing” science. There are a few good, and many more bad scientists in the world today. (By science I mean all the major branches of science that study one aspect or the other of the physical world – what Christians call creation.)
The right way to practice science is to look at all the evidence with an open mind and to come to conclusions in the light if the evidence. If science is practiced on that basis it will inevitably lead to the conclusions that there has to be a Creator (God) and that the earth and everything in it was created by God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalms 19:1). “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:20).
The problem is that the vast majority of scientists today begin with the assumption that there is no God. Based on that pre-conceived conclusion, they examine the evidence. Any evidence that points to God is rejected and any evidence that denies that there is a God is retained. This evidence is then manipulated into a theory and in time the theory becomes fact. (Lenin said a lie told often enough becomes the truth.) Evolution, for example, is a theory which has never been proven, because there are a bunch of holes (or missing links) in the theory. But over the years the “theory” has been dropped and everyone now speaks about Evolution as a “fact”. This “fact” is then used as a base for further speculation and more theories. The reality is that these “scientists” do not practice science, but practice theology – because they begin with a theological premise – that there is no God.
The truth is that science has not been able to prove evolution, the “big bang” or that the earth is millions of years old. Every one of these theories can be disproved scientifically – without any reference to the Bible. Scientists who are truly objective must become believers as a result of their studies because there is overwhelming evidence for God and creation on both the macro level (the universe) and the micro level (molecules). But most scientists are unbelievers because they are more interested in proving their atheistic theories than the truth.
The problem for many Christians lies in the claims of the Bible that the earth was created in six days and the “evidence” from science that the earth is billions of years old.
Reconciling Science and the Bible
Atheistic scientists are a real problem. But, there is a bigger problem than scientists who do not believe in God. It is Christians who believe science, rather than the Bible. As a result they try to reconcile science’s theories with the Bible and come up with many new ideas such as
- Theistic evolution God used the “big bang” and evolution to create. They thus are able to “reconcile” the Bible with “science”.
- The gap theory There was a previous creation which was destroyed and the present creation is a re-creation. This is an effort to explain the “oldness” of the earth, dinosaurs etc.
- Seven long days This theory speculates that the earth was not created in six 24-hour days but seven periods of millions of years. This is also an effort to reconcile the age of the earth, according to science, with the Bible.
- The fact is that all these theories are based on the premise that science is 100% correct and the Bible is flawed, limited or incomplete. Those Christians who teach these theories argue that they do not reject God as the Creator but are simply offering an alternative explanation as to the method God used in the process of creation.
It is not the purpose of this article to discuss the age of the earth. God may have created the earth mature just as he created man mature but there are also many real problems with the techniques employed to date the age of the earth. But we are dealing with a far more fundamental issue here.
The fact is that no man or scientist witnessed the world coming into existence. There is no movie or any other record that shows how it happened. But there is one witness who was present – God. We must therefore accept God’s testimony since He was the only One present when it all happened.
“Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. (Romans 3:4).
People like to mock those who believe that the Bible is literal as “stupid fundamentalists” and love to portray them as ignorant and uneducated.
The fact is that it is the one who says there is no God who is the fool (Psalm 141) and it is the fool who ignores the clear evidence that God exists and that He created all things. Only the fool rejects the testimony of an omniscient, omnipotent God for the theories and weak arguments of foolish men.
We do not believe blindly
We do not believe blindly, we can prove our faith by clear and irrefutable evidence. We can also disprove every other theory with clear, logical arguments and scientific evidence, apart from the Bible. But at the end of the day it is a matter of faith – either believe the testimony of a God who was not only present at the beginning, but is the Creator, or the witness of men who have very limited insight.
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.” (1 John 59)
The danger of reading in a non-literal way
There are many preachers, teachers and pastors who feel that it does not matter whether we read the six days of creation as six literal, 24-hour days or as six periods of time of millions of years. But it does matter.
It matters because if Genesis chapter 1 is not literal, then the rest of the Bible is not literal either. If your theology allows you to take liberties with how you interpret Genesis 1 then you will also take liberties with the rest of Scripture. Then maybe Jesus was not literally born of a virgin, did not literally die, or literally rise from the dead! No, the Bible says God created in six 24-hour days and the same Bible says that Jesus was born of a virgin, died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day. And it is all literal, real, and the undeniable, and the infallible testimony of a God who cannot lie.
Thus men change “the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 15) into “it was a period of millions of years”. It is this same mindset which then denies a literal seven years of Great Tribulation, a literal thousand years of peace and a literal heaven and a literal hell. If you allow the devil to drive a wedge between the Word and truth in Genesis, he will drive that wedge home until nothing means what God intended it to mean. But the Bible says what it means and means what it says.