WHY I AM NOT A YOUNG EARTH CREATIONIST
Genesis 1 (as well as other “creation” texts in the Bible) is not a historical report designed to explain how God created the universe in a scientific sense.
Genesis 1 is a creative theological meditation on how God, the King of the heavens and earth, formed a good land out of an uninhabitable wilderness to be his Temple, filled it with living things, and appointed human beings to be his priestly representatives and to multiply his blessing throughout the world. When God had finished his work, he rested and began to rule.
This theological meditation reflects both Ancient Near Eastern cosmology and Ancient Near Eastern creation myths and served as:
- A reflection of the way people viewed the natural world at that time,
- A polemic against the gods of the nations, especially Babylon (the one true and living God alone is Creator).
- As we’ll see next, it was Israel’s origin story.
Genesis 1 and the complementary creation story in Genesis 2-3 were shaped to reflect Israel’s history as an introduction to the Torah.
Genesis 1-3 anticipates the entire story of Israel —
- this chosen people who were brought through water and out of the wilderness,
- who entered into a covenant with God the King, and settled in a good land.
- There they disobeyed, and were exiled from that land among their enemies to the east.
- Yet God promised his continued care and a future.
The Hebrew Bible was formed into its final shape after the Babylonian Exile. The early chapters of Genesis (1-11) were fashioned using terms, themes, and myths from Babylonian sources to communicate to the post-exilic community.
After the exile, Israel faced the same choice as the first covenant people, Adam and Eve: God has brought them back to the land. Will they eat from the tree of life and know God’s blessing?
A “clear and natural” reading of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 means reading them in the context they were given and letting them fulfill the purposes for which they were written.
There are actually seven great Creation accounts in Scripture (Gen. 1, Gen. 2-3, Job 38-41, Psalm 104, Proverbs 8, passages in Ecclesiastes, Isaiah 40-66). They are written using different genres and reflecting various traditions. They complement each other and communicate truths appropriate to their contexts within the Bible’s overall narrative.
Let the Bible tell its story.
Genesis 1 and other Bible texts about creation have little to do with what scientists find through observing the natural world.
- The universe is the arena of God’s general revelation. To understand it, we use methods designed for observing and analyzing its natural materials and processes. The focus is entirely on the “stuff” of creation and what it tells us.
- The Bible is the primary source for studying and understanding special revelation about God and his plan for humankind and all creation in Christ. Beginning in Genesis, we find that this is summarized in the prayer, “May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as in heaven.” The fulfillment of that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible should not come into the discussion at all when analyzing the science — it is not about that.
And it is not the job of science to speculate on the supernatural mysteries that may lie in and behind creation — so don’t expect it to.
This is not a matter of choosing to trust the “authority” of science over the “authority” of the Bible. That would suggest the two are designed to speak to the same subjects. They are not.
Let the scientists do science and help us gain an ever-increasing understanding of how the world works.
Let the Bible work faith, hope, and love through Jesus Christ and bring us to God’s new creation.