In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth

Title: In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth . . .

Text: Genesis 1:1

Date: February 7th, 2010

I’ve started teaching through the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, because it’s foundational for everything else that follows in the Christian faith. Without Genesis the rest of the Bible doesn’t make sense, which is why so many people are clueless as to what Christianity teaches or what it means – they don’t know or understand the Book of Genesis.  Today, I’d like to deal with the important subject of creation vs. evolution. Genesis gives us a creation account in the first few chapters, so as far as the Bible is concerned, God created everything that exists. That is contrary to what Charles Darwin explained in his famous book “The Origins of the Species.” What he argued and what the modern day theory of evolution also advocates is that everything evolved naturally without the need of a Creator, without needing to be created. The theory of evolution says that the universe, the world, all of life including plants, animals and humans, everything, developed naturally without the need for any supernatural design or creation. Evolution says the planet earth formed naturally through the right combination of matter, energy, time and chance. Evolution also says that all life formed naturally through the process of natural selection – random mutations plus any of the advantages or disadvantages these mutations caused with respect to the environment. Under the theory of evolution there is no need for a Creator to start or supervise the natural process. As one evolutionist said, “Evolution put God out of work.” Contrary to the theory of evolution, the Bible teaches that everything was created, and that means there needs to be a Creator. The Bible is very clear that God created the universe, the world and all life on it. So then the contrasts couldn’t be sharper. Either life is the product of a totally random and purposeless process that naturally formed by itself, or life is the product of a loving Creator with design and purpose. The implications are profound, because one essentially advocates atheism and the other promotes belief in God. I agree with historian Paul Johnson who says, “The existence or non-existence of God is the most important question we humans are ever called to answer. If God does exist, and if in consequence we are called to another life when this one ends, a momentous set of consequences follows, which should affect every day, every moment almost, of our earthly existence. Our life then becomes a mere preparation for eternity and must be conducted throughout with our future in view. If, on the other hand, God does not exist, another momentous set of consequences follows. This life then becomes the only one we have, we have no duties or obligations except to our own interests and pleasures. There are no commands to follow except what society imposes upon us, and even these we may evade if we can get away with it. In a Godless world, there is no obvious basis for altruism of any kind, moral anarchy takes over and the rule of the self prevails.” So then we see the question of evolution or creation is profound. The answer we give will influence our entire life. I’ll argue that the Bible describes God as Creator and therefore creation is true and evolution is false. Not only does the Bible teach this but so also does reason and evidence, contrary to what is often taught in secular classrooms. Let’s look at Genesis 1:1 closer.

First, evolution is false because the Bible teaches that God created. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Someone once said, “If the very first verse of the Bible is true, then evolution is false.” And so it’s true. If the Bible – the very first verse – is true, then evolution is false. In order for evolution to be true, that is, if everything came about through random processes of material/energy, time and chance, if that is true, then the Bible and the whole Christian faith must be false. Why? Because the Bible specifically teaches that God created everything – the heavens and the earth, that is, everything outside of the earth and everything on the earth — and theory of evolution teaches that no creator is necessary, only natural random processes. So either a Creator is necessary or not. Now as Christians we view the Bible as the source of revelation from God. We trust that source of revelation because it teaches us not only about creation but also about human nature and about salvation. Or in other words, the Bible explains how we as humans got here — creation, how things started off good – the Garden of Eden, how things went bad – the Fall, and finally how God initiated a solution to the problem – salvation. We trust the Bible because it explains everything from start to finish in a better way than anything else. For example, human nature. Why is it that people seem to universally have a natural tendency to do bad. A baby doesn’t need to be trained to be bad, but it does need to be trained to be good. Why is that? The Bible explains this with the Fall, the first sin of Adam and Eve our original parents, and the passing on from generation to generation of a sin nature. This one profound point of biblical teaching about human nature has profound implications for society and government. Why is it necessary to separate powers? Why, for example, in our democratic form of government, is it important to separate the judicial, legislature and executive branches? The answer is explained in the Bible. Because of the human sinful tendency power needs to be separated, checked and balanced, not permitted to become too highly concentrated in order to avoid overpowering evil. As one writer put it, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So here is a living example of how profound the Bible teaches on human nature. We have come to trust the Bible in this and in many other instances. So when we come to the subject of creation, we naturally trust the Bible – since it’s proven itself so trustworthy in many other areas – we trust it to speak accurately upon matters we can’t personally or directly verify, such as to the question how everything can to be. As Christians, we trust the Bible over the speculations and guesses of even the most educated scientists. When the Bible speaks about origins, or how things came to be, we trust its account over the philosophical speculations of secular theories. But there’s more.

Second, evolution is false because the Bible teaches that God was active in creation. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Chapters one and two of the Book of Genesis describe the activity of God in bringing about the Creation. It doesn’t describe God as a passive agent but rather an active agent. It describes God as speaking, “And God said . . .” It describes God as doing things, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good,” Genesis 1:31. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing,” Genesis 2:2. So the Creation account in the Bible describes God as actively involved in the activity of creation. Evolution, on the other hand, leaves no room for God’s activity in explaining how everything came to be. For example, consider the common evolutionary explanation for the origins of men and women. According to the theory of evolution, no supernatural deity or divine intervention is needed to produce a man or a woman; only time and chance. According to the theory, men and women came from lower primates. The only thing separating man from an ape is genetic mutations and time. Over time, according to the theory, lower primates reproduced but in doing so every once in a while some slight genetic variation or mutation resulted making the offspring more or less suited to survive in their environment. The offspring more genetically favored survived, the ones less genetically favored perished over time, and so on. Thus, men and women today are simply the natural product of superior genes brought about by favorable mutations over time. Now if that is really the process that brought about present day man and woman where does God fit into the whole equation? He doesn’t. Like enlightenment thinker Laplace once said, “God? I have no need of that hypothesis any longer.” That’s the conclusion one must hold if one holds consistently to the theory of evolution. The Bible describes God as present and active in his creation. According to the Bible, God neither creates everything all-at-once nor does he create things in some long drawn-out, indistinguishable process that is impossible to differentiate. Now God certainly could have created everything all-at-once. A few weeks back I outlined the possible ways God could have created. With his omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence he could have snapped his fingers and everything could have appeared fully formed all at once. But that’s not how the Bible describes it. He also could have created everything as the theory of evolution explains, through a long, gradual, drawn-out process of imperceptible changes over long periods of time. He could have remained passive and hidden on the sidelines and let the whole thing play itself out like someone winding up a player piano and letting it play. But that’s not how he did it either, according to the Bible. Some Christians have tried to argue that’s how God did it, using evolution as the means, but that’s not what the Bible describes. No. Evolution is false because it’s not the process the Bible outlines.

Third, evolution is false because of a lack of evidence in the fossil record. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible describes creation as a process of God directly intervening into nature and bringing about something that wouldn’t have naturally occurred, not everything blending into other things like evolution teaches. According to the theory of evolution the fossil record should show evidence of gradual, slow, transitioning from one thing to another over long periods of time. For example, according to evolution, there should be a long, steady, gradual fossil record of lower primates to modern man. But the actual fossil record shows no such thing. In fact, in every instance, in respect to every separate thing, the fossil record shows no such gradual development, but rather abrupt changes. In other words, the actual fossil record, as opposed to the theoretical philosophical speculations of how evolution should work, but the actual hard evidence shows something much more in-line with the actual creation accounts of the Bible than with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Of course, over one hundred years ago when Darwin formulated the theory, he assumed that the fossil record would eventually confirm his thinking by actually producing a gradual, step-by-step record of what he was explaining; it never has produced that confirmation. In fact, just the opposite. The actual fossil record indicates dramatic, abrupt changes – the very opposite of what Darwin postulated. In order to compensate for the lack of fossil record and in order to attempt to save the theory of evolution itself, scientists have come up with a variation theory of evolution that involves sudden change not slow, gradual change; it’s called “punctuated equilibrium.” But if the fossil record had confirmed the original theory of evolution, the one still widely taught in public school and colleges, then why the need to modify it to account for the fact that the earth evidence doesn’t confirm the slow, gradual change over time of living things into other living things? According to the Bible, the way things really came about is through a combination of natural processes and divine intervention. The Bible doesn’t teach that no natural processes were involved, it just teaches that God was also involved in ways that superceded nature. For example, in the case of the creation of man and women, the Bible describes that God gave them a soul or spirit; that was a supernatural act. Without God’s direct intervention in the creation of man and women there could be no morally responsible, spiritually aware humans as we know humans to be today. As Christians we don’t totally dismiss change over time or disbelieve all natural development in plant, animal or human life. We just believe that the development is limited, that mutations can’t slide into totally different kinds of life, that God has set fixed limits to the amount of natural change that can occur. Micro evolution or small-scale change occurs, which can also be observed; but macro evolution or large-scale change, which cannot be observed, cannot occur without God’s direct intervention. But if God is intervening, then it’s not evolution, it’s creation.

Now what does all of this have to do with me and my life, you and your life today? Plenty. Just like the Paul Johnson quote said earlier, if there is no God, if evolution is true, if everything came about through natural processes without the need for any supernatural power beyond it, then certain consequences flow from that. But, as the quote also mentions, if there is a God and everything came about because of his plan and purpose, then a totally different set of consequences result. We watch the news on television of violence and crime and death and we wonder how people can act so immorally and without conscience, but if you’ve been taught as a child that you are only the product of a blind, natural process; if you have been told in not so many words that God is unnecessary because the theory of evolution explains everything, is it any wonder why people are more and more turning away from moral values and personal responsibility? If evolution is true, if everything can be explained by material energy plus time plus chance, if there is no room for God anymore because the theory of evolution explained him away, then what’s to keep people from moral anarchy? If there is no Divine Judge of the world to whom we must all eventually give an account, what is to check the darker and selfish impulses in us all? Atheists have tried to come up with compelling ethical systems involving no deity but they have failed. There is no known civilization that could long sustain and restrain itself morally without a belief in God in some form. So the relevance of the creation vs. evolution debate has a profound impact on us all. As Christians we don’t have to feel uncomfortable talking to people committed to the theory of evolution. What we have to remember is that an evolutionist must answer questions put to them in an intelligent way. It isn’t enough to simply state that evolution explains everything – which is a common thing – we must demand that people who claim it explains everything to actually show how it explains everything. Why isn’t the fossil record reflecting the theory? With the rise of the Intelligent Design movement within science, there are now scientists who are beginning to demand better answer of evolutionists, with respect for example, in explaining the complexity of the human eye. How can such a complex thing as the eye form gradually, piece-by-piece over long periods of time, as Darwin said it must? Much of the advantages of the eye come from it working all together as a complete unit, so then, how could it have developed little-by-little under Darwin’s theory? We need to make the evolutionist explain himself, if he can. As Christians we know that all things cannot be accounted for by mere material causes. According to the Bible, God created. We have good reasons to sticking to the biblical account and also conforming our lives to all the other teachings of the Bible. After all, as Augustine once said, “All truth is God’s truth.”

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