Creation and Evolution: The Biblical Explanation
Earlier we examined the weaknesses of the theory of evolution as an explanation for the bewildering complexity of the forms of life we see around us. Now we turn to the Bible itself to see what the Creator God says about His creation.
We should keep in mind that God does not usually explain all there is to know about a subject in one place in the Bible. His Word is not organized so we can turn to one passage and read all of His revelation about a particular truth.
God's truths are not revealed all at once. Although He often provides a broad outline of a truth early in the Scriptures, we find that He later fills in many of the details elsewhere in the Bible. The Bible itself speaks of this principle when it talks of "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, [and who] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . ." (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The nature of revelation
The biblical prophets did not always understand the significance of the prophecies they recorded under God's inspiration (Daniel 12:8-9). Their knowledge of the particular truth they received was sometimes incomplete.
"Of this salvation," writes the apostle Peter, "the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ [which] was in them was indicating when [it] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12).
The prophets obviously had only partial information about eternal truths revealed to them. This is also the case with the account of creation in Genesis 1. God would reveal additional details later. Many Bible readers, however, mistakenly assume everything the Bible has to say about creation is explained there. Yet the Bible adds details later that clarify the Genesis 1 account.
Consider, for example, that Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It might seem as if this verse describes the beginning of everything, but God later reveals details of events and conditions that took place earlier.
The apostle John, writing under God's inspiration, takes us back to a time before events described in Genesis 1. "In the beginning," he states, "was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3, emphasis added throughout).
Here the Bible reveals that, before the creation of the heavens and the earth described in Genesis 1, the Word was with God, and God made everything through the Word. None of this is revealed in the Genesis account, yet these details help us understand who God was in the beginning and at the time of the earth's creation. We see that John gives us more information that helps us understand what happened "in the beginning" in Genesis 1. (To better understand who and what God is, and how the creation proves His existence, please request your free copy of Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?)
Similarly, Genesis 1:2 describes the earth as being "without form, and void." This sketchy description offers no explanation for why the earth was in this condition. However, God reveals more details in other parts of His Word. We have to compile and consider all pertinent scriptures on a subject to gain a complete understanding.
For example, in another passage God explains that angels were present at the creation of the earth. The book of Genesis doesn't mention this, but it is an important truth. We find this detail recorded in the book of Job, where God asks Job: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . Who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted with joy?" (Job 38:4, 6-7). The "morning stars" and "sons of God"-the angels-exulted as they saw the earth miraculously come into being.
The angelic revolt
A key to understanding why the earth was "without form and void" involves what happened to some of these angels. Again, nothing of this angelic story is described in Genesis. But, later in His Word, God reveals there was a great angel, Lucifer, who rebelled against Him. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'" (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Here God explains that Lucifer had a throne, representing a position of leadership and authority. He rose from somewhere below to try to overthrow God, but was "cut down to the ground."
Where was this place where Lucifer had his throne? Jesus Christ, whom we saw earlier was the "Word" alongside God at the creation, reveals more details. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven," He said (Luke 10:18). Lucifer, who became Satan, was cast down from heaven-to the earth!
The Bible explains that Satan retains his authority over this planet. Notice what Satan told Christ: "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, 'All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish'" (Luke 4:5-6).
Christ resisted this temptation but did not dispute the assertion of Satan's present authority. The Bible shows in many places that Satan has authority over the earth. He is even called "the god of this age" in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
It is no accident that in Genesis 3, shortly after God created Adam and Eve, Satan appeared on the scene. The earth was-and still is-his domain. He had been cast down to earth before man's creation took place. As noted in the account of the temptation of Christ, Satan had received authority over the earth. He then rebelled against God in a battle in which he was cast down to the earth, as Christ recounted.
The earth is Satan's realm. The book of Job records God asking Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan's reply was, "From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it" (Job 1:7).
How earth became waste and empty
In Genesis we do not see details of the awe-inspiring initial creation, the creation long before Adam and Eve about which angels sang for joy. We do not read how that creation came to be in chaos-"without form and void."
The text, though, does offer clues. Notice that the New International Version has a marginal notation regarding the translation of Genesis 1:2: "Now the earth was [or possibly became] formless and empty . . ."
Does God reveal elsewhere in his Word how the earth came to be in this disorderly state, "formless and empty"? He gives us some telling hints in the book of Isaiah. "For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18).
The term in vain here is the same word translated "without form" in Genesis 1:2. Yet here Isaiah records God as saying He did not originally create the earth in this condition. Other scriptures, such as Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, describe similar devastation on the earth using the same words translated "without form, and void" in Genesis 1:2. There is no doubt that these words describe the earth as being empty, void, a wasteland.
The Genesis account simply does not provide all the details. But the Bible as a whole fills in other parts of the story. The missing pieces are given in other scriptures, which tell us of Satan's rebellion against God. They describe his attempt to overthrow God, and, as a result of a great supernatural battle, that he was cast down again.
We see what appears to be a parallel situation in Revelation 12:7-9, which apparently describes an attempt by Satan to overthrow God shortly before Christ's return. "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Yet God has allowed Satan to retain authority over this present world. Satan even offered Christ the opportunity to share rulership over the earth under him.
You can see that, when we examine all the Scriptures, we find a great deal more information that illuminates and explains the Genesis account.
Earth renewed and restored
Consider another section of Scripture in which God inspired David to understand more about His Creation. "O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions . . . You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:24, 30).
The surface of the earth needed a renewal when God created the present life forms we see around us. So what does the fossil record depict? It shows a series of fossilized life forms in layered deposits scattered in the earth's crust. Man as we know him, made in God's image with enormous creative and spiritual abilities, has left written records that take us back a little more than 5,000 years.
This is a tiny span compared with what most scientists consider the age of the earth and stars to be based on their research. Man, in an incredibly short time, built the pyramids-which to this day defy imitation. Man has traveled to the moon and sent spacecraft to explore our solar system and beyond. Such achievements show the enormous difference in the earth before and after Adam.
How long did the angels exist before man was created? The Bible doesn't reveal the answer. How long did it take Lucifer to persuade as many as a third of the angels to rebel with him? (Revelation 12:4). Remember, angels are spirit beings for whom aging is of no consequence (Luke 20:36). Whatever length of time this might be, perhaps millions or billions of years, the angels were created and lived before the creation of Adam and Eve and the days of the renewal of the earth described in Genesis.
Why did God create angels? "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). God "has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to the angels" (Hebrews 2:5). God created angels to serve mankind. God is working out His plan of salvation on earth. The creation waits for the glorious moment when man inherits what God the Father planned from the start.
"For I consider," writes Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility [waste], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God" (Romans 8:18-21). (For more details, be sure to request your free booklets What Is Your Destiny? and The Gospel of the Kingdom)
The Bible explanation
Can the Bible explain the fossil record, evidence pointing to an ancient earth and divine creation at the same time? Yes, it can. We don't know the details of what happened before man's time. But Christ has assured us that when He returns "there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light" (Mark 4:22).
Instead of wandering through the confused, chaotic maze of the theory of evolution like so many, we should look to God's Word for assurance. It is there-directly from our Creator-that we find the truth of man's origin.
Perhaps the following quote from George Sim Johnston best sums up that truth: "The book of Genesis has held up well under the scrutiny of modern geology and archaeology. Twentieth-century physics, moreover, describes the beginning of the universe in virtually the same cosmological terms as Genesis. Space, time and matter came out of nothing in a single burst of light entirely hospitable to carbon-based life. A growing number of chemists and biologists agree that life had its origin from clay templates (see Genesis 2:7) . . . I would say all this is a curious development for Darwinists" (Reader's Digest, May 1991, p. 31).
But these things aren't a "curious development" to those who faithfully believe, as Christ did, in "every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). They know that such truths have been recorded for mankind in the Bible for thousands of years.
It is to the Bible that we should turn for our moral standards, to discover our one true source of salvation and, perhaps most of all, for our belief in the invisible Creator God. Then we should not doubt the real origin of the species mentioned in the creation epic, that rock-solid book of beginnings, Genesis.
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