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Creation Myths

Michelangelo's creation

In these current times many Christians have rejected the biblical account of creation and have instead turned to science as their guide in matters of absolute truth. In particular, Creationism: the belief that the biblical account of creation is true and God created in six literal days, has undergone serious misrepresentation. The aim of this brief article is to outline some of the common myths that often surround the sound teachings of Creationism, and then through challenging questions I hope to highlight the dangers of rejecting the biblical account of creation.

Common Myths

  • Myth 1: The biblical writers and early Church Fathers could not have known what we know today.

    In terms of human knowledge this is entirely true. However, no one would dare to argue that Scriptures are the inspiration of man. From beginning to end God has spoken with truths that could not have been discerned with human understanding. Are we suggesting that God was incapable of expressing Himself properly, He did not anticipate how His words would be misunderstood by future generations, or that the writers were mistaken in what they wrote? It can be seen that any argument which questions what is written is either questioning the ability of God to convey Himself in truth or begs the question: if one part is mistaken then how can we be confident about any other part of Scripture?

  • Myth 2: The Hebrew word used for "day" could mean millions of years.

    The verse found in 2 Peter 3:8 is often cited: "But don't forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The general argument is that this verse demonstrates how with God each of the six days mentioned in the account of creation could represent a period of a thousand, or thousands, or millions of years. However, if the strength of the argument lies in the idea conveyed: God does not number the days as we do, then we must be willing to embrace the full verse. It does not just say that one day is like a thousand years, it also says that one thousand years is like a day. In other words, we could flip the argument on its head and use the verse to demonstrate how a thousand, or thousands, or millions of years are like a day to God and what would naturally take incredible lengths of time to be accomplished could be done in one day by God. The reality is that neither are valid arguments as they both misrepresent the proper meaning of the passage: The entire context of this passage from Peter's letter is in reference to the second coming of Christ.

    Returning to the actual account of creation given in Genesis, it is quite true that the Hebrew word for day, yom, like the English word can refer to a period of time rather than a literal day. However, whenever the Hebrew word appears with a number it always refers to a literal twenty-four hour period of time. For example, "God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." (Genesis 1:5) Aside from any other arguments, God has included the phrase, "there was evening and there was morning". Let there be no doubt, these verses refer to a literal day.

  • Myth 3: The sun was not created until the fourth day so how can there be morning and evening?

    A day is not defined by the "rising and setting of the sun", rather the rotation of the earth about its own axis. The fact that there was morning and evening is further testimony to the way in which God provided light even before the sun was created. In fact, it is a wonderful reminder that our existence does not depend on anything in the material universe, rather on the constant and necessary intervention of God.

  • Myth 4: The first couple of chapters of Genesis are written in poetry so they should not be taken literally.

    Unlike English, for which defining poetry can be quite a challenge, the Hebrew language has clear rules to make a distinction between what writers call the narrative and poetic form. In any language sentences are generally made up of a subject (the thing which is doing something), a verb (what the thing is doing), and an object (the thing which is being done to). For example, "the boy (object) watched (verb) the cat (object)." In Hebrew the order in the narrative would be: verb, subject, object (VSO): "watched the boy the cat." But in poetic form the order is always: subject, verb, object (SVO).

    If we look at Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew translates: "In beginning created (V) God (S) the heavens and the earth (O)." This is the same throughout the entire account of creation. So it is clearly written in the narrative and the writer intended to convey fact.

  • Myth 5: Ignoring the point about the literal day we cannot ignore the fact that the pattern of evolution matches the biblical account.

    This is one of the most common myths perpetuated, often by Christians who wish to avoid conflict and the risk of being ridiculed by scientists and other secular scholars. However, evolution and the biblical account do not coincide and conflict is unavoidable.

    Vegetation (plants and trees) was created on the third day, before the sun was created. This would immediately cause conflict because you would have to argue with an evolutionist that it was God who ensured that the process of photosynthesis continued before He made the sun on the "fourth day", which was supposedly millions of years later.

    Evolution teaches that reptiles evolved from sea creatures, which in turn evolved into mammals and birds. However, God created the sea dwelling creatures, birds of the sky, and flying insects on the fifth day and all the land dwelling creatures on the sixth day. But this is the least of the problems. Without the aid of pollinating insects and birds and mammals, who eat berries and carry seeds away from the parent plants, how would the proliferation of plants be explained? Quite simply, the symbiotic coexistence of plants and land creatures is a necessary principle found in the most basic evolutionary models. The biblical account is in direct conflict with all of this and no amount of cleverness will marry the biblical chronology with the stages of evolution.

Now we have considered five of the most common myths it is time to turn on the offensive and present three challenging question that must be answered if the biblical account is to be rejected...

Challenging Questions

  • Challenge 1: At what point do we accept the Bible to be true?

    There are no clear markers found in the Bible which we can use to read sections as being absolutely true and other markers which indicate that the following section should be taken less seriously. If we choose to reject the first few chapters of Genesis as being fanciful then why stop there? Next we have to question the accuracy of the biblical account of a worldwide flood, which appears in Genesis 6-8. So perhaps we should remove the entire book of Genesis? But why stop there? What about the biblical account of God's people fleeing from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea? It looks like the book of Exodus needs to be removed from our Bible too. Ultimately can we have any confidence in the actual resurrection of Christ? What about the second coming of Christ? And what about the creation of the new Heaven and the new earth found in revelation? Will that take millions of years too? Either we believe that the Bible represents nothing more than a useful manual for life or we accept it as the true and unerring Word of God in its entirety.

  • Challenge 2: What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

    If we believe that we have evolved from a lower life form over millions of years then we must accept that God was waiting patiently for us to "evolve" to a stage when He could eventually shout from the Heavens, "Finally my creation has reached the stage where I am pleased to declare man to be in my image!" What would happen if we evolve any further? Would you be happy telling an evolutionist that the process of evolution for man has stopped? Does this mean that lower life forms are partial images of God?

    These suggestions are as outrageous as it is blasphemous! On the sixth day of creation we read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27)

  • Challenge 3: What hope does the future hold?

    As Christians we believe that it was through the deliberate act of sin that death entered the world. However, if we are to accept the evolutionary model then we must be willing to accept that millions of years of suffering and death existed before man sinned. What does that say about sin? What difference did it make? Was God lying when He said, "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die," (Genesis 2:17) or "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23)? We look forward with hope to the day when in the new Heaven and the new earth everything will be restored: "He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4).

    The following picture was produced by the excellent ministry, Answers In Genesis, which I believe summarises this challenge perfectly.

    Death before creation

It seems incredible that anyone who has taken a moment to marvel at the miracle of creation itself would doubt the ability of this same creator God to achieve all this in six literal days. Do we think that giving Him a longer period of time is either necessary or would make it more believable? Surely the act of creation itself is sufficient evidence that God is so much greater than anything we could possibly imagine or comprehend. The real question becomes an issue of whether or not we dare to challenge the veracity of God Himself, or accept the Word of God as being true.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4