Chapter OneIn The Beginning
Long before a man called Adam walked with God in the gardens of Eden, longer still before the flood of Noah covered the face of the earth, in a time called "the beginning," God created the heavens and the earth. A grand and beautiful design, the earth as conceived by the Creator was an exquisite home for the creatures He had fashioned. The earth itself was a magnificent garden where life flourished in a dazzling display of variety. The ground trembled with the footsteps of the largest creatures (those we now call dinosaurs). Animals filled the trees, the skies and the oceans. From eternity God had planned this creation, and it was perfect in every way. God created men and they began to settle in villages, cities and nations. Angels, a part of this new creation, were given dominion over the earth, to rule with the authority of their Creator. It was the archangel Lucifer who ruled over the nations in all the splendor of the greatest of God's creations. Every creature fashioned by the hand of God acted in perfect obedience to the will of their Creator. Angels and men knew God as a friend and drew their life from Him. There was no sickness or disease, no hunger or death, for there was no sin--
--Until Lucifer, the closest to the throne of God, the archangel who "walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire," let the seed of pride find fertile ground in his heart. Pride led to rebellion, and rebellion to judgment. Lucifer and the nations following him were placed under a curse, and the earth itself was judged for their sin.
All of this happened before Genesis 1:2.
Not the Traditional View
Granted, this is not the traditional view of creation. Many may find it puzzling, perhaps even disturbing. Most of us who have been raised in the church have accepted the first two chapters of Genesis as a continuous, uninterrupted account of the origin of the earth and man. After all, many may argue, doesn't the book of Genesis make it perfectly clear that, in the beginning, God created the earth as a lifeless, shapeless, chaotic mass? Isn't it apparent, from the second verse of chapter one, that floods covered the earth while God's Spirit hovered over what would become a beautiful new planet? Doesn't Scripture plainly record the six days of creation and all that was involved in forming the earth during that first week?
Before answering any of these questions, it must be made clear that nothing will be presented in this book that is out of harmony with God's Word. Every argument will be backed up by biblical evidence, and no new ideas will be submitted without the support of at least two or three clear scriptural references. With that in mind, let's take a look at what the Scriptures have to say about the earth's origins.
The Clash With Science
It is generally acknowledged, based on chronologies found in the Old Testament, that Adam was created about 6,000 years ago, or about 4,000 B.C. Since Darwin published On the Origin of Species in the mid-1800's, those who have held to a literal interpretation of the Bible have struggled to counter the claims of science for a creation date stretching billions of years into the past. Most of the scientific evidence accumulated during the past century has supported these claims of an old earth. Some argue that scientists are basing their findings on previously-held assumptions relating to the earth's antiquity, that they are merely seeing what they want to see. In other words, they believe the evolutionary model which requires an earth millions, perhaps billions of years old, and interpret any evidence they find based on those assumptions. While there may be some merit to this, the fact remains that at best it is very difficult to explain much of the scientific evidence accumulated during the past century in light of a 6,000-year-old earth.
Unfortunately, this leaves the Christian with a dilemma. On the one hand, science claims the earth is billions of years old. On the other hand, biblical chronologies suggest that the earth is only about 6,000 years old. Faced with this tension between science and faith, the believer has two alternatives. One must either accept the scientific evidence and view the biblical creation account as mythology, or be forced to hold fast to a literal interpretation of the Scriptures and reject what science has to offer.
Neither of these alternatives are acceptable. The first violates basic exegetical principles. Nowhere in Scripture are we led to believe that either the recorded chronologies or the creation account are myths or allegories. Both the context and the language itself point to a literal interpretation. In fact, New Testament writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, viewed the creation account as a literal event which took place at a specific point in history.
The second alternative requires the believer to "stick his head in the sand" and ignore the accumulated scientific evidence pointing to an old earth. As the weight of the evidence grows, the Christian must close his eyes all the more tightly to keep his faith intact. Not only is this unacceptable, it is unnecessary, as we'll soon see. Maybe you haven't thought deeply about the subject because you were afraid that to do so might shake the foundation upon which your faith is built. Perhaps you've already been challenged in this area as a Christian in a secular society. If you're a parent, you may have been forced to wrestle with these issues as your children grapple with the evolutionary model being taught in our public schools.
Challenging the Common Assumption
Whether one accepts the scientific evidence or holds to a literal interpretation of the Bible, there is one point on which both camps agree: the Scriptures, literally interpreted, point to a creation date 6,000 years ago. This assumption is taken for granted in the debate between the two sides. It's accepted without question.
We don't agree. The entire premise of this book is that you can take the Genesis account very literally and not have any difficulty reconciling faith and science. We're going to challenge assumptions that both believers and nonbelievers have made for years. This isn't a two-sided issue, although that's traditionally the way it has been presented. Those who have sought answers to the question of the earth's origins have been puzzled by the apparent contradictions. There's a reason for that--a piece of the puzzle has been missing. Well, perhaps "misplaced" is a better word. You see, it's been there all along but we haven't known where to find it. The piece fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and we're going to take a look at it in the following chapters.