Creationists claim to read Genesis literally. This indeed is one of the proclamations made in the IEAC Reaffirmation Statement which says in its background that the various signatories “accept the creation record as literal in its details”. This is a fine sounding declaration. We thought we would align Genesis 1 in the KJV with the old earth creation model promoted by The Lampstand Magazine (a promoter of the Reaffirmation Statement). Lots of words had to be deleted or added. Be warned you might be upset. The intention is not to upset but rather demonstrate the old earth creation view is NOT a literal reading. Neither is the young earth creationist view, as should also be evidence from the below. Continue reading
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” Gen 2:24 KJV
The inspired author adds this explanatory comment to Genesis 2 which teaches marriage as a Divine institution. Christ directly refers back to this passage in Mark 10:6-8 when addressing the question of marriage and divorce. The Pharisees were trying to entrap Christ on the subject and the Lord points to the Garden as the intention and plan of God. This points to the historicity of Adam and Eve. Continue reading
“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” Gen1:16 KJV
This verse also demonstrates extreme care should be taken when arguing for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. The language is at best phenomenal (ie incorrect due to the limitations of a human observer) not literal – the moon is not a great light except for its reflective capacity.
One difficulty for literalists in Genesis 1 is that light appeared and day/night was established prior to the creation of the sun on day 4. Attempts are made to explain this away by interpreting the word made (H6213 Asah) to mean ‘appoint’ (eg A Perry in the Testimony). However, this is not in line with the meaning of the word: Continue reading
“Let there be lights in the firmament of Heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years…” Gen1:14 KJV
This verse also demonstrates extreme care should be taken when arguing for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. A YEC brother would have no concern as they usually believe the whole planet is but 6,000 odd years old. However, for an OEC brother, the verse indicates the sun and moon didn’t have their existing function of regulating times and seasons before 6,000 years ago. This is hard to reconcile with what the OEC brother sees as evidence of past life and creations where the sun and the moon clearly operated to provide the same function they do in the world we know. Continue reading
Based on the above, the gap theory is not supported in the Hebrew of Gen1:1-2, has no basis in the words used of God creating and conflicts with other passages in Scripture. The passages used to justify the position are not strong. While an OEC believer would describe their understanding as literal, the YEC (and EC) brother has very strong grounds for rejecting that assessment. Continue reading
In Gen1:2 we are told the earth/world “was without form and void”. This situation was then addressed through the miracles which follow.
These words are found together in Isa34:11 which is speaking of the effect of judgment on the nations. Similarly in Jer4:23 the effect of God’s judgments on Jerusalem are described in these terms. Does the use of the words in the context of judgment support the idea that the formless and void in Gen1:2 was as a result of judgment (in contrast to the Hebrew construction, the context and other direct Scriptures)? No. You could expound that God would undo the miracle and blessings of creation and take them backwards to that first condition but to use these later judgment passages to expound Gen 1:2 is not sound exposition. Continue reading
There are a number of Hebrew words used for creating and making in Genesis1. Some argue there is a clear distinction in these words which supports a gap theory. The suggestion is that one word (bara) means to create from nothing whereas the other means to reform/build from existing material. Continue reading
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Gen 1:1-2 KJV
The gap theory translates the word “was” in verse 2 as “had become”. In doing so the suggestion is the earth was not created without form and void in v1 but became so due to judgment on a previous creation or some other unknown reason. Is this consistent with the Hebrew? The word translated “was” has a wide variety of meanings and determining the correct tense is beyond my limited skills. Hence, as we all do, I have to go to the work of others.
The LXX translators, closer in time to the original Hebrew than us, followed a similar pattern saying “But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished”. Continue reading
One pro Gap position suggests Gen 1:1 is a summary statement of the whole chapter. While we read heavens and earth as meaning the universe and the planet, possibly the verse should be understood as meaning the sky and the land since the terms heaven and earth are used later in chapter 1. We can test this suggestion by reviewing the chapter and context.
When we look at the Hebrew there is nothing particularly to affirm or deny the suggestion. The word ‘heaven’ has a wide range of uses from the universe through to the sky and air. Similarly, the word for ‘earth’ is extremely broad. So we must go to the context of Gen1 and see how the expressions are used.
- Used in v1
- V6 the firmament is defined as heaven (with waters above and below it)
- V14 the sun, moon & stars are set/placed in the firmament of heaven
- V15 the lights are in the firmament of heaven
- V17 the lights are set in the firmament of heaven
- V20 the birds fly across the face of the firmament of heaven
- V26 & 29 God puts the fowls of heaven (the air) under man’s dominion
It is hard to see how the word ‘Heaven’ in v1 can be defined as other than the universe for the OEC reader. The heavens in Gen1 is where the stars are. Therefore Gen 1:1 must be including the creation of the stars/universe rather than just the local atmosphere.
- Used in v1
- V2 the earth was without form and void
- V10 the dry land appeared and is named earth
- V11 & 12 the earth brings forth grass and fruit trees
- V14 & 17 the sun etc give light to the earth
- V24 onwards referenced in passing with the fowls and animals
‘The earth’ is not therefore just the dry land in contrast to the sea. V10-12 may suggest dry land however the earth was initially under water. The usage in v2 is more akin to what we would call the planet/world – a use found in Scripture (eg “the earth is the Lord’s” Psa24v1) and this is consistent with the light of the sun and moon falling on the planet, versus just dry land in v14 and 17.
Consequently, the wording and context of Genesis 1 speak against reading a gap into Gen1 and putting the creation of the universe and planet into some separate earlier event.
Other passages in Scripture pose more challenges to this reading of Gen 1:1-2. They provide further evidence of how we should literally understand the record.
Exod 20:11 is quoted in these discussions to support a literal 6 day reading of Gen1. The passage raises problems for the OEC viewpoint:
“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
So Moses takes Gen1:1 and includes it within the 6 days of activity which follow. This is consistent with the actual reading of Gen1:3. God made the heaven and the earth in Gen1:1. It was all in darkness v2. Then God created light & divided it from the darkness v3-4. The evening and the morning were day 1 v5. I suggest the natural reading of Gen 1 is the evening/darkness was identified in v2 and the morning came with the creation of light in v3. Hence Moses words in Exod20 reconcile with Gen 1 and the heavens and earth being created as part of the 6 days.
The same form of words is repeated by Moses in Exod 31:17, ie this is not just a one verse problem (and it is also in Neh9:6). Similarly, Psa33:6 (used by OEC brethren to demand instant creation and deny natural processes) says
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”
The OEC believer suggests dry land existed before Genesis 1, as did the sun moon and stars. However, the simple and consistent testimony of Scripture contradicts this attempt to reconcile with science. Once again in Psa33 the language naturally includes the stars within the operation of Day4 and therefore undermines an old earth model.
Consequently, I suggest viewing v1 as a summary heading of what follows is not readily supported given the use of the two words in the chapter and the commentary on Genesis 1 by other Scriptures. Ie the OEC understanding of a gap is not consistent with the context of Gen1 and other related scriptures.
The idea of a gap between Gen1:1 and verse 2 is a comparatively recent understanding of Scripture but, until recently at least, was the default Christadelphian view. Thomas Chalmers, a Church of Scotland minister, (died in 1847) is credited as the man who popularised the idea of the gap, although the idea may have originated early in the 17th century. At the time geology was uncovering abundant evidence showing the planet was older than 6,000 years. This contradicted the traditional (and plain) reading of Genesis 1. In response, theologians and ministers proposed there was a time gap between v1 &2. The idea was that the heavens and earth were created long ages ago and anything older than 6,000 years was relating to previous life which was wiped out and everything remade as per the rest of Genesis 1. Consequently, it is reasonable to say the idea is not a traditional one, nor did it arise from the work of our community. The OEC position quite simply was informed by the science of the 1700 & the 1800s and is an attempt to match Scripture and science. Continue reading