What was the context of Genesis 1 and how should it affect how we understand the first chapter of the Bible and creation?
(This will be the first in a series of posts about God and Creation.)
It’s logically possible that God created everything a few seconds ago.
You would already have breath in your lungs. The light of the sun would have been created already on its way to earth, and you’d have been created with memories already intact. Take five seconds — twice your possible age — to ponder this!
How does it make you feel that the universe could have been created with the appearance of age?
What’s interesting is that the young earth view of creation — where the universe is 5,000 to 10,000 years old — has some of the same concerns that the “five seconds ago” view does.
You see, we have stars that are millions of light years away, so the light that reaches us from these stars left millions of years ago. Unless, they were created with the appearance of age, so their light was already on its way to earth. Of Course, God could certainly have placed the stars and light in their places.
However, for other reasons, I think that the light is actually reaching us millions of years after it has left the stars. In other words, I think the universe is old, not young.
For starters, this is the most straightforward conclusion. The majority of the physical evidence points to an old universe. - The age of stars and their distance away from us. - The age of the universe — 13.8 billions years. - The expansion of the universe. - The size of the universe — 93 billion light-years in diameter. - Gravity Waves
What About The Bible?
We have more than the natural world to tell us about reality. We also have the Bible, which, as God’s revelation to us, communicates truth in areas we couldn’t know about otherwise. So, what does the Bible have to say about all of this?
There are two creation stories in the bible… and they are very different. Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 put the events of creation into different orders. Genesis 1 uses “days” to mark God’s creative actions, Genesis 2 does not. Genesis 1 has man created last, and Genesis 2 has him created first. There are numerous other differences too.
Most “young earth” Christians base their beliefs on Genesis 1, not 2. But Why? I’ve never heard a compelling reason for choosing one over the other. If you’re saying that Genesis 1 describes events as they literally happened, then Genesis 2 cannot be literally true in the same way.
I don’t think either is entirely comprised of literal events, though I believe both communicate literal truth. For example, when Jesus said, “I am the door”, he didn’t mean he was a literal door — the kind with hinges. But it is literally true that Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, non-literal language can communicate literal truth.
Some Questions To Think About
- Why should we interpret Genesis 1 literally, when we don’t interpret everything else this way?
- Would it bother you if the universe were created with the appearance of age?
- Does the Bible even speak to the age of the earth?
- What was the context in which Genesis 1 was written?
- What is the significance of the earth being young or of it being old?
- How would ancient Israel have understood Genesis 1 and 2?
We’ll examine these questions in the weeks to come, but for now, think on those questions. For some people, the age of the earth is a very contentious issue, but this should not be so. As Christians, we can disagree about this and still show each other grace. But, we should all strive for better and more complete understanding of the God who created us and his creation.