For the most part, I have never really given a lot of thought to the Creation account of Genesis 1 and 2 beyond a fairly literal interpretation of what we read in those chapters. Creation itself is an established fact in Scripture and easily points to the work of an Intelligent Designer. Moreover, Exodus 20:11 repeats the idea that God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them, in six days and rested on the 7th. My reasoning has been that since God is so powerful anyway, it surely is possible that He was able to create everything in the space of six days. Besides, when it comes to biblical interpretation, we should, for the most part, take the reading of Scripture at face value. If God would have meant something else about the way in which Creation took place, would that not be clear in the text?
Not long ago, I had the privilege of touring the Museum of Natural History in New York City. I think it was there that I first felt compelled to think again about the nature of our world and its creation. The few hours that we spent there merely scratched the surface of all there was to see and consider. The magnitude and magnificence of God’s creation as displayed there is overwhelming. I was especially impressed by the geological exhibit that so ably demonstrated the large variety of rock and mineral formation that there is on the earth. One could spend several days examining all the different kinds of stone and how they came to be.
And then there were the dinosaurs. In my Bible education, I don’t recall hearing a good explanation about where these amazing animals fit into the whole scheme of things. For the most part, my own understanding and explanation of phenomena related to geology and the dinosaur has to do with the idea of the flood spoken of in Genesis 6 – 9. I’ve always considered that the geology of our times as well as the existence of fossils were the result of the force of nature in the large volume of water that deluged the earth at that time. And the dinosaurs became extinct after the flood because conditions on the earth at that time couldn’t sustain their unusual appetites. Yet it seems strange that the Bible doesn’t seem to have much to say about these great creatures.
So I’ve been prayerfully reconsidering this matter of the creation. I’ve been looking for some good biblical scholarship that takes the Genesis account of creation seriously while also giving an explanation of it that fits with the evidence that seems to point to large amounts of time for the development of the earth as we know it today. In some rather rapid reading and research, I came to the conclusion that there are well-informed biblical Christians who have found ways to reconcile the biblical account of Genesis with well-established scientific evidence for a much older earth than I imagined.
I discovered there is a classic paper written on this subject by Dr. Joshua Zorn called, The Testimony of a Formerly Young Earth Missionary. It is actually a humble testimony of an earnest Christian who sincerely tried to reconcile what he came to appreciate as reality and the biblical account. In the course of time he found that a literal rendering was being forced upon the text against the better judgment of scientific evidence. This came to a head for him when it was discovered that the idea of human foot prints next to dinosaur tracks in the sediment of the Paluxy River in Texas was actually spurious.
I liked the tone of Zorn’s paper, and the good solid support that he had accumulated for his position such as the views of the early church fathers concerning Genesis. In the paper, he refers to the work of Dr. Hugh Ross, a Canadian, who has established the organization called, Reasons to Believe, through which he successfully debates the idea that the Hebrew word for day (“yom”) can actually be interpreted as “a long period of time.” Dr. Ross demonstrates his quiet debating skills in a variety of YouTube videos that can easily be accessed by the reader. It is interesting to note for example that it wasn’t until the 4th day that God created the sun and the moon (and the stars) to define day and night. And, as Ross points out, in the text there is no definition of the 7th day in terms of morning and evening. In his view, we are now living in the 7th day of God’s rest. Yet it is important to point out that this conclusion doesn’t mean that the development of life on earth was by some kind of natural evolution. Christians don’t have to concede natural selection simply because there were large amounts of time involved in the creation of our world. But conceding an old earth point-of-view could give the Christian message more credibility among unbelievers.
One of the side effects of this study has shown me that Christians often demonstrate an air of arrogant dogmatism when it comes to defending their faith that is not only possibly ignorant but also quite offensive. If we hope to be successful in defending a strong biblical faith, it is supremely important that we are humble enough to acknowledge our lack of knowledge, listen to honest and well-qualified students of the natural world, and measure our response carefully and prayerfully. Christ’s cause and His wonderful purposes are not advanced when we do not open our hearts and minds to all that God is saying through the Scriptures.
Much more could be said regarding this matter, but at the least, for me it is an introduction into a deeper understanding and appreciation for the value of seeking ways to reconcile Scripture with good science. Though they speak to different aspects of our lives and use different language they should not be considered mutually exclusive.