This is part 6 of a series that examines the evidence for a universe created
by an Intelligent Designer. I would say that this Designer/Creator is the God of
the Bible, but the evidence for this second bit will need to come later. To
start at the beginning of this series,
What are some of the alternatives to reading Genesis 1 as other than
containing God's work over six contiguous twenty-four hour days?
The Formless and Void Earth
Genesis 1 starts with a summary statement, "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth." It then goes on to say, "The earth was formless and
void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was
moving over the surface of the waters." When did this happen? Was it part of day
1 or before day 1? Note the next phrase, "Then God said,..." This phrase marks
the beginning of all the other days, and it is not illogical to say that Genesis
1:3 marks the beginning of the seven days, leaving an indeterminate time for God
to brood and plan. This is really only a small point and does not do much to
address other issues about what happened on which days, but it is important to
keep in mind that a history of the universe is possible before the first day
without any violation, and indeed with the support of the literary structure.
This "brooding" fascinates me. When I read it, I think of Proverbs 8:22-31:
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
From everlasting, I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest
times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there
were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled,
before the hills I was brought forth; while He had not yet made the earth and
the fields, nor the first dust of the world. When He established the heavens,
I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made
firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set
for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command,
when He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him as a
master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him,
rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.
It is worth noting that there is no fixed chronology in the above song. Note
the repeated references to springs, skies, earth, and heavens. It is like the
whole is just to wonderful to take in all at once.
Some have noted that the arrangement of Genesis 1 contains a parallelism that
is usually associated with
Hebrew poetry. I have noted this in the table below:
|Day 1: Light and Darkness Separated
||Day 4: Light and Darkness filled with the heavenly bodies.
|Day 2: The sky separates heavens and the waters
||Day 5: The sky is filled with birds and the waters with
|Day 3: The dry land and vegetation appear
||Day 6: The dry land is filled with animals
The first half brings order to the formlessness of the earth and the second
half fills its void. This is the important connection with Genesis 1:2, "and the
earth was formless and void." It again demonstrates that the earth was there
prior to the beginning of the first day. The first day was the beginning of the
shaping. We can also conclude that Genesis 1 is geocentric in its perspective.
It tells us about the fashioning of the earth and may not have that much to say
about the rest of the heavens. It is the earth that was formless and void, and
it is the earth that is shaped and filled.
Poetry may or may not have to conform to the way things actually happened.
Look at Proverbs 8:22-31 again. That is a song of wisdom and exhibits no concern
for chronology or the correct sequence of one event following another.
If Genesis begins with a Song of Creation, the repeated pattern of "there was
morning evening and there was morning, one day." becomes a poetic device. I can
hear some reasonable objections rising here, but read very closely, "one day,"
"a second day," "a third day," etc. The absence of the definite article can mean
that chronology is given second place to structure. A man could list his
children, "Arnold, one of my children; Judah, a second child; and Sarah, a third
child" Or he might say, "Sarah, the first child; Arnold; the second child; and
Jude the third child." The first lists the sons, followed by the daughters. The
second lists the children in birth order.
We need to know how dramatically different Genesis 1 is compared to the
creation accounts of Israel's neighbors. They are full of battles with sea
monsters restraining creation and gods who do battle and slay them. God fashions
the world by the Word of his mouth. Genesis 1's Song of Creation takes on and
defeats other ancient songs of creation. The poem serves as a polemic against
the mythology of its day.
Mapping the Six Days to Science
Hugh Ross' Reasons to Believe
website is the best resource to explore this avenue. He takes the concept,
established above, that Genesis 1 tells about the shaping of the earth from the
earth's point of view. He then refines and further says that the viewpoint is
from the surface of the earth, and then maps the Genesis days to these
- God Created the Heavens and the Earth: Big Bang, formation of the Solar
- The Spirit of God brooding over the surface of the waters: Design and
creation of single celled organisms
- Age 1: The cloud cover begins to decrease, allowing the light of the sun
and moon to diffuse through.
- Age 2: God created a stable water cycle of evaporation and condensation.
- Age 3: God creates the mountains and continents. God creates the plants to
grow on them. Oxygen levels increase in the atmosphere.
- Age 4: The increased oxygen creates the ozone layer and God disperses the
now unneeded cloud cover and lets the sun, moon, and stars shine through.
- Age 5: God creates the fishes in the waters.
- Age 6: God creates the animals and finally He creates man.
For Hugh Ross, the creative activity of God is direct and special. There is
no evolution here. At one point in time, there were no sea creatures, and then
there were sea creatures fully formed. It is interesting that the fossil record
supports this concept. It especially explains what is known as the Cambrian
Explosion at which time all modern phyla and then some suddenly appear in the
fossil record. There was nothing before. For Hugh Ross and others that is
evidence of the God's actions in Age 6.
It is somewhat remarkable that, although the picture is contrived, the
day/ages map as smoothly as they do. One must acknowledge, on the one hand,
that Moses did not have the above notions in mind as he wrote. On the other
hand, there is nothing essentially wrong with the understanding shifting to
accommodate discoveries impossible during the times of Moses. Rather we can give
praise for a creation account that has the ability to move into the realms of
Final Words on This Topic
There are other ways of dealing with Genesis 1 and science. I have
highlighted the ones with which I am the most familiar. None of them are
perfect. They all have problems. And really, even the six-by-twenty-four is not
perfect, even if current cosmology supported it. As I wrote in the fifth post of
this series, the sixth day packs in a lot of activity. It is one thing to have
God do all that creating. It is another thing to force Adam to do and feel so
much in such a short amount of time.
I hope that those of you who read this conclude that I have been fair to the
material and have maintained integrity in handling the Scriptures. I have just
recently read where the second generation of creation-scientists are instituting
a peer review system and endeavoring to pay attention to those all important
details. This can mean nothing but good, and I am glad to hear such things. I
await their work.
In the meantime, I plan to steer my blogging course back to more direct
Scriptural themes. If I might borrow from Francis Schaeffer, I have been writing
about the God Who is There. But He is There and He is not Silent.
I will steer my course once more to His written Word: the special revelation
that communicates His desire to have us for His own. Our universe was not wound
up like a top and left to spin wherever. No, He continues to create and interact
with His creation day in and age out.
Thursday: After 6 days on Creation and Science, I am taking a day to rest.
<>< Test Everything. Cling to what is good. ><>