Reading Genesis 1: Part 1

By Will Barlow

What have we seen so far?

Genesis was written to a group of ancient people coming out of slavery

The questions that they were asking of the text are different than the questions that we ask

How can we read Genesis 1?

Does Genesis 1 begin with a continuous narrative or is there an initial creation in verse 1 followed by a “re-creation” or “reconstitution”?

  • “Gap” theory says the latter
  • Most other views take the former

How can we read Genesis 1?

How do we read the word day? Is a day a literal 24-hour period of time? Or is it something else?

  • YEC and “gap” theory view the word “day” as a literal 24 hour period
  • Most other views either don’t require a day to be a specific length of time or say it is a longer period of time

How can we read Genesis 1?

Is Genesis 1 meant to be a description of creation itself? Or is it meant to describe how God ascribed function to already existing systems?

  • “Modified gap” theory and Walton’s “Temple” theory both focus on Genesis 1 describing function, not creation
  • Most other views take Genesis 1 to be describing creation

How can we read Genesis 1?

How importantly should we weigh the scientific evidence?

  • Walton’s “Temple” theory does not care about modern science
  • The mainline YEC view has an alternate view of the scientific evidence
  • All other views rely on the scientific evidence

Many views of Genesis 1

Perhaps the easiest way to divide them is:

  • Young-earth views
  • Old-earth views
  • Views compatible with either

Young-Earth Views

  • Mainline YEC view - Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, Institute for Creation Research (ICR)
  • The “Appearance of Age” view

Old-Earth Views

  • “Day-Age” and modified “Day-Age”— Hugh Ross, Gerald Schroeder
  • “Theistic Evolution” — Francis Collins
  • Gap and modified gap — Scofield Bible

Views Compatible with Either

  • The “God’s Temple” interpretation — John Walton
  • Any non-literal interpretation that does not involve evolution

Young-Earth Creationism

Genesis 1:1-3   In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Genesis 1:4-5   And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Positives of Young-Earth Creationism

  • You can read Genesis 1 without importing any other ideas as a complete narrative
  • Then, using the genealogies from other parts of the Bible, you get roughly 6,000 years of history
  • Nothing in the Bible absolutely contradicts it

Negatives of Young-Earth Creationism

Some of the strongest arguments against YEC come from science. However:

  • AIG and ICR have answers to basically any scientific question
  • Both do a great job of attacking science at the weakest spot — assumptions and counterexamples

Young-Earth Creationism

Biblical questions about YEC:

  • Would the original audience have cared about the age of the Earth?
  • Are we sure that the genealogies are without gaps?
  • Is Genesis 1 about creation or function?
  • Is there really enough time for Satan to rebel (if you hold this view)?

Scientific challenges to YEC:

  • Basically all scientists view the Universe as old and the Earth as old
    • Faraway stars appear to age the Universe at 13 billion years
    • There is no reason to believe that the speed of light has changed over time

Appearance of Age View

This view accepts the scientific evidence and says that “God made the Universe appear old to test us.”

  • I believe that God gave us our heads to think with.
  • God does test us, but He is not a deceiver.

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