Friday, October 24, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: Day Four

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
(Gen 1:14-19)

Day 4 marks the creation of the heavenly bodies – the sun, moon, and stars. We have seen already that God created light on Day 1. The presence of light clearly demarcated day and night so that the passage of days could be measured until now. Here, God creates the permanent lights to replace the temporary one He had created earlier.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Interestingly, the Bible reveals the motive for creating these heavenly bodies. In this passage, I can identify at least 4 purposes:

1) And let them be for signs: Exactly what is meant by “signs” is not made clear in this passage. I've heard some pastors talk about the gospel message being present in the signs of the zodiac but I'm very skeptical of the claim. I've heard all the details and feel they're simply a stretch. It reminds me a little of Nostradamus, where his quatrains are just vague enough that they can seem to explain some future event.

Still others talk about signs like the star of Bethlehem which announced the birth of Jesus. I've written before how that “star,” as described in the Bible, did not behave in a way any astronomical body would. I suspect that was more likely an angel.

I suspect it most likely means God will use the heavens to reveal His power. Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Simply put, the vastness of space and number of stars gives us a glimpse of the power of God. Also, there are the miracles like Joshua's Long Day (Joshua 10:11-13) and the turning back of the sun (Isaiah 38:8). In both cases, we see the authority of God is above the movement of the planets.

2) And for seasons: We see that God purposefully created the seasons. We know that He gave the plants and tree to Adam for food. We see perhaps too that God intended Adam to farm. Of course, it was not initially the burden that it would become after the curse. When God cursed Adam, He warned him that he would plow but now the ground would produce thorns and He would have to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.

Because there are seasons, we know that by this time, the earth was certainly in motion, making its elliptical orbit around the sun; the earth must also have already been tilted on its axis. Both of these factors determine the seasons.

3) and for days, and years: Many of our denominations of time are derived from natural phenomenon. One rotation of the earth on its axis is a day; one orbit of the sun is a year; one orbit around the earth by the moon is a month. Even the start of each season is clearly identified by a solstice or equinox. We see from these passages that it is God who ordained how long a day would be or how long makes a year.

By the way, there is no natural phenomenon that accounts for a seven day week. Many believe the seven day week – which is recognized by so many cultures – is a legacy of the original seven day week established by God during the creation.

4) And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: One obvious blessing from the sun is that it not only gives us heat but it also gives light. God could have created us to live and see in the darkness but He ordained it to be otherwise and so gave us the sun and moon to give light upon the earth.

In the Bible, light is often used metaphorically to represent knowledge or enlightenment. The Bible is a lamp for our feet (Psalm 119:105). Jesus also said that believers walk in the light while the lost love darkness because their deeds are evil (John 3).

One criticism often made of the Bible is that it seems to say in this passage that the moon “gives” light. First, it doesn't say exactly that. It does refer to the moon as the “lesser light” that rules the night but does not describe a method by which the moon gives light. But moreover, it is an acceptable and common use of the language to say the moon gives light. I remind you of the well known poem, “'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below.”

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:

So, after having given us the purpose of the sun and moon, the Bible then says God creates them with very little description as to how. There is no description like the plants seeming to come forth from the ground or the land rising out of the sea as with earlier creative acts. It only says that God wanted there to be these lights and so He made them.

An interesting fact about the sun and moon is their difference in size. The sun's diameter is about 400 times larger than the moon's but the sun is also 400 times further away. The result is that both objects appear to be almost exactly the same size when viewed from earth. It is incredible to think this is just an accidental coincidence; Such a coincidence is far more likely to be a product of design.

he made the stars also.

The earth is not some insignificant speck in the vast cosmos; rather, God created the universe with the earth in mind. The enormity of the universe and the innumerable number of stars gives us a glimpse of God's omnipotence. However, the earth is the indisputable center of God's attention. The sun and moon, which affect the earth most directly, are given the most description in this passage. The stars receive barely a mention.

I can't let this pass without mentioning the distant starlight problem. Out of our ignorance, we question how the light from millions of lights years away (in distance) can reach us in a single day or even a few thousand years (of time). The fact that we haven't yet found a completely satisfactory answer to the question is not necessarily evidence that it didn't happen. We see the light from the stars so we know it has had time to reach us. Therefore, we can continue seeking answers to understand how.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness:

Critics of the Bible will often pounce on this verse as an excuse to ridicule the Bible. Some ancient philosophers (it would be a stretch to call any person of antiquity a “scientist”) believed there was a dome over the earth and the heavenly bodies were literally lights inside the dome. This just wasn't Christian or Jewish philosophers but many other cultures this as well. This passage in one sense could understood to support that idea. However, it doesn't literally say it. There are at least two other ways we might understand this passage.

First, we ordinarily refer to the sun, moon, and/or stars as being “in the sky.” It would be odd to describe them otherwise. I have used similar wording on this very blog many times and no one has ever accused me of believing in a dome around the earth. For the Bible to say that God that put them “in the sky” need not mean anything more than we mean by the same term.

Secondly, the word “firmament” in the KJV is a little esoteric. Other translations have “heavens.” The Bible attests there are three, distinct heavens: the first heaven is the sky/atmosphere around the earth. The second heaven is outer space. The third heaven is the abode of God. The word “firmament” in the KJV could include either the 1st or 2nd heavens. The same passage in the NASB can be read and understood without the ambiguity or controversy we find in the KJV.

and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.


Prior to now, days were marked by the temporary light created on Day 1. Now, God has created the sun and the meaning of a “day” is clearly defined as one passing of evening and morning. Once again, we see that the days of the creation week are ordinary days.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: Day Three

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
(Gen 1:9-13)

The creative acts of this day can be divided into two major categories: the creation of the dry land and the creation of vegetation. A lot could be said about each category, though, so we'll break it down verse by verse.

v. 9a, And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place,

One stunning detail mentioned in this verse is that all the waters were “gathered unto one place.” Such wording strongly suggests there was initially only one ocean and, therefore, could only be one continent. Modern scientists, of course, have recently come to this same conclusion via scientific inquiry. In the 1920's, scientists began to suggest all the modern continents were once joined in a single super-continent dubbed, Pangea. More recent theories speculate there may have also been other super-continents.

Of course, the Bible does not need to be affirmed by science. Indeed, I feel the opposite is true – the clear wording of the Bible seems to affirm that the scientific theory of Pangea is correct. At the initial creation, there was a single continent.

What is not clear from the text is the initial ratio of land to sea. If I consider only the text and nothing else, I would probably guess that it was about 50/50. When I further consider that God intended the land to be man's domain and the He wanted the earth filled with people, I might then suggest there was probably more land than sea. After the Flood, when subterranean waters had been released, we are left with the present ratio of mostly water. The oft repeated criticism of “where did the flood water go” is a canard; it's still here.

v. 9b, and let the dry land appear

We're not sure exactly how the land “appeared.” There seems to be a sense of the land rising and the water running off it into the one place. Alternatively, God could have miraculously parted the water and created the dry land in the gap. If the land has risen out of the sea, we might even see signs of erosion as the waters rolled off and were gathered together.

This would have been the primordial earth. Since there has not been any living thing before this point, there cannot be any fossils found in the rocks. Later though, it may have happened that burrowing insects and other creatures were trapped in this rock and became fossilized.

v. 10, And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

This is certainly mere speculation by me but I noticed that God did not pronounce the division of the waters to be “good” at the end of Day two. However, He said that the creation was good twice on Day 3. Perhaps that could mean that the division of the waters and creation of the air (Day 2) and the creation of the land (Day 3) were sort of a single continuous act that lasted all of Day 2 and just now ended on Day 3. It's just a thought.

Old earth creationists should take note that the Bible clearly states the sea existed first and land was created afterward. This is directly the opposite of secular theories on the creation of the earth which says the earth was initially hot rock and oceans came later.

v. 11, And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

Here God creates the plant life. There seems to be three classifications of plants which are distinguished by the seed:

  1. Grass. The seed is not mentioned here because the seed is not obvious. This group probably includes flowers as well.
  2. Herbs, where the seed is obvious as in wheat or corn.
  3. Trees, which yield fruit which carries the seed in itself.

Certainly this single sentence is not intended to be a scientific treaty on the classification of every type of plant. Something like grapes, for example, aren't trees but do yield fruit whose seed is in itself. Instead, it's likely intended to be a broad generalization that says God created all kinds plants.

One thing not mentioned here is marine plants. Did God create those here or on Day 5 with the other marine life? Also, what about things like mushrooms? I believe the wording of the text is such that it could include all non-animal, terrestrial creatures. Personally, I would include marine plants as being created on Day 5.

v. 12, And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

The plants seem to appear out of the ground at God's command – not as sprouts but as fully mature plants already yielding seed and ready to be eaten. We will see later that God intends all His living creatures to eat only plants.

We also see in this passage the introduction of the term “kind.” The herb and tree, for example, yield seeds “after their kind.” This is an important concept in creationism. Creatures are grouped not according to their “species” (a man made classification) but belong to created kinds. They also reproduce according to their kind. There may be many kinds of apple trees (red delicious, golden delicious, gala, granny smith, etc) but an apple tree will never produce bananas. There are variations within the kind (we call these “species”) but creatures only reproduce their own kind.

v. 13, And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Old earth creationists should again take note. Plants can survive overnight in the dark (it happens every day). It's difficult to believe, though, that vegetation can prosper millions of years without bright sunlight if the days represent long ages (the sun isn't created till Day 4). Also, evolution theorizes that life began in the sea and plants came much later. The Bible is clear that plant life came before marine life – exactly the opposite of evolutionary theory. Finally, how could the plants have survived millions of years waiting for bees and birds to come along and aid in pollination?


The events described here occurred in a single evening and morning. An ordinary day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: Day Two


And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
(Gen 1:6-8)

Surprisingly little details are given for the events of Day 2. There seems to be at least two acts that occur (possibly distinct from each other).

1) God divides the waters into the “waters which were under” and the “waters which were above.”

2) God creates an expanse (“firmament” in the KJV) between the waters under and the waters above.

Since the details surrounding these events are so scant, we can only speculate about what these creative acts might have included. However, we must be careful to not hold out our speculation as doctrine. Some things that have been theorized seem reasonable. Some are musings. We can employ science here but we are limited since we are dealing with a unique event that wasn't observed. We can trust the clear text of the Bible but our scientific theories are suspect.

We know that God will soon be creating living things on the earth so it would not be unreasonable to suppose that He is preparing the planet to support them.  The “expanse” or “firmament” is the space occupied by plants and terrestrial creatures (including us). Therefore, God possibly created the atmosphere here with its composite of various gases.

We are certain that water existed on the first day. Since water is hydrogen and oxygen (H2O), then we can say those elements were created on Day 1. If God is creating breathable air on Day 2, it is likely similar to the air we breath now. Besides oxygen, the air would have contained nitrogen, argon, carbon (as in CO2), neon, etc. So the elements of the periodic table are being created ex nihilo in the order that God has chosen to introduce them in the creation and not necessarily in the order of simple to complex as predicted by the Big Bang. More will be introduced as God creates the dry land and living creatures.

The firmament is also where weather occurs. In Genesis 2:5 we are told that it did not rain on the earth during the creation week but perhaps here God is creating clouds (we'll talk in a moment about the waters above the firmament). At the very least, God likely created the mechanisms that would govern weather in the future – things like air pressure (a necessary consequence of having created air), evaporation, etc.

The biggest controversy surrounding Day 2 is over what is meant by the “the waters above” the firmament. There are at least 3 mainstream theories:

The Mundane Explanation

The waters above could simply be clouds and the firmament is the expanse between the earth and the clouds. Such a reading fits the text well and needs little additional explanation.  It should be noted that such a belief would imply that the Bible accurately described clouds as being made of water well ahead of scientific discovery.

The Canopy Theory

Some creationists believe the waters above represent a type of canopy, either of dense clouds or ice. By the way, I've often heard the canopy itself referred to as the “firmament” but the text is clear that the firmament is the expanse between the waters. Proponents of this theory believe the canopy collapsed at the time of Noah and was the source of much of the Flood waters.

This interpretation of the text carries a few difficulties. Such a canopy, for example, would obstruct our view of the stars described on Day 4. Of course, some old earth creationists suggest the sun and stars were created earlier and could not be seen. The sun could only be perceived as diffused light (described on Day 1) and it was not until Day 4 that the clouds were cleared and the sun, moon, and stars could be seen clearly.

There are also some scientific difficulties with a canopy. Of course, I never let prevailing scientific opinion trump the clear meaning of the words of the Bible. The Bible does not explicitly state there was a canopy and there is no other reference to it later in the Bible. I haven't seen a compelling argument for the existence of such a thing. I don't endorse this interpretation but I can't entirely reject it either. Perhaps clouds were more dense prior to the Flood – though not necessarily a solid dome of ice.

While most creationists do reject this idea, there are a few staunch proponents of this theory and have built elaborate models around it. Perhaps the most notable proponent is Carl Baugh who has made some dubious, scientific claims about the affects of such a canopy – things like how it was the canopy that allowed antediluvian people to live for hundreds of years.

Humphreys' Model

In his “white hole cosmology,” Russell Humphreys has proposed that, when God divided the waters, He used the “waters above” as the raw material to create the rest of the universe. This position would mean that the initial earth was huge and most of it was stripped away to form everything else. Again, the Bible doesn't explicitly say this happened so I cannot say dogmatically his view is correct. It could fit the text, though, and Humphreys has made several successful predictions with this model.

Of course, it's possible for a little of each of these theories to be true. The “waters above” must mean something and since we cannot determine a precise meaning from the text, we should be careful not to wed ourselves to any particular theory as though it were scripture.

The passage ends with the usual demarcation; it was evening and morning. All the things done by God in this passage, whatever they may include, were all accomplished in a single, ordinary day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: Day One

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
(Gen 1:1-5)

When some people think of the first day of the Creation Week, they only think of God creating day and night. We can see here there is actually a lot more going on. Let's break it down, verse by verse:

v. 1a, In the beginning...

First we can see that God created, “in the beginning.” The beginning of what? The answer is obvious but we seldom stop to think about the implication. This is the beginning of not only the universe but it is the beginning of time. So one of the first creative acts was God creating time. The things we ordinarily use to mark the passing of time will come later but God started the clock ticking here.

v. 1b, ...God created the heaven and the earth.

The term “heaven” can have several meanings depending on its context. It sometimes refers to the sky and other times to the abode of God. Here, I believe “heaven” clearly refers to space. Before God created everything, He needed a place to put it. Space isn't something that always existed and God simply put the earth and stars into it. Space itself was created. Before this moment there was no space.

Immediately after creating space (or perhaps simultaneously with it), God creates the earth. We know that the sun, moon, and stars are created later so, at this moment, the earth is the only matter in the entire universe.

We can see from this short, simple verse the very profound and fundamental creative act of God. He began the creation in a very logical and orderly way. He created time, space, and matter.

v. 2a, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The Hebrew word translated here as “without form” is tôhû (תּהוּ) which is a seldom used word – not just in the Bible but in Hebrew in general. We're not entirely sure what is meant by the term and Brown-Driver-Briggs says the primary meaning is hard to grasp (that is, it's hard to grasp the meaning; not that it means “hard to grasp”). The Greek word used in the Septuagint literally means, “unseen,” possibly a reference to the fact that it was dark.

Certainly the earth lacked any features. There were no mountains, no valleys, and certainly no living things. There was not even land. The wording here creates a distinct impression namely that the earth then was empty and did not resemble the present earth in any way.

We see from last sentence that the earth initially was only water. Since water can only exist at temperatures less than 100°C (212°F), perhaps we could assume that the initial creation was a “cool” event.

We also learn from this verse that God was actively involved in the creation. Yes, He spoke and it happened but He did not speak from a distance; He was there, hovering over the face of the waters. This is not a case of God nudging the universe in a certain direction and then letting physical laws take over.

v. 3, And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

For some reason, many people seem to think the creation of light marked the beginning of the creation. We have seen that much has already happened before this point. The first day began in darkness and now it is light so the day is about ½ over.

The Bible doesn't mention the source of this light. We know that it cannot be the sun since the sun will not be created until day 4. Some have suggested that God Himself was the light but I am skeptical of that claim; if God were the light, then where was the light just a few minutes earlier? The Bible does attest that in the new creation, there will be no more need of the sun because the Lamb will be the light (Rev 21:23). However, verse 25 tells us that there will neither be any more night so we cannot draw an exact parallel between this light and the light of the Lamb in Revelation. Since the Bible is silent on the source of this light, we cannot be dogmatic in our speculations. Suffice it to say this was a temporary source that God used to mark the passage of days until the sun was created on day 4.

It's interesting that God created a light that specifically is not the sun. Even the ancients understood that the sun gave light so if Genesis were truly the product of human imagination, it's rather incredible to believe someone would think to separate the creation of light from the creation of the sun. Some might argue this is evidence of a divine revelation for Scripture.

v. 4a, And God saw the light, that it was good:

Several times during the creation week, God pauses pauses to reflect on His creation. Each time, He sees that what has been created is “good.” The fact that God continuously affirms that each created thing is “good” flies in the face of theistic evolution (TE). According to TE, the world was created over billions of years of death and destruction. According to this belief, the world has been bad, bad, bad, on its way to finally being, “very good.” The Bible attests over and over that everything was initially “good.”

v. 4b-5a, and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

The presence of night and day indicate that the earth has already begun rotating. Therefore, we can be sure that physical laws – like gravity – have also already been created. Nobel laureate, Dr. Stephen Hawking, once said that because physical laws like gravity exist, then the universe could create itself out of nothing. It's rather laughable that such an intelligent person could make such a contradictory statement. How could there be any physical laws before the universe was created?

Physical laws are only our descriptions of the way matter behaves. Matter exhibits gravity. Just like matter cannot create itself, neither can gravity create itself. Science can only presuppose gravity existed in the creation; secular scientists really have no more explanation for the origin of gravity than they do for the ultimate origin of matter. They can only appeal to poofery.

v. 5b, And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Each day of the six creative days is punctuated by this phrase. Since God created light on the first day, we can know how much time has passed. It was an evening and a morning – an ordinary day. The presence of the term “morning and evening” leave little wiggle room for anyone wishing to reinterpret the word “day.”


God could have created the entire universe in a single moment. God could have stretched the creation out over billions of years. Yet for whatever reason, God chose to create the universe in the way He did – over six ordinary days.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Some Comments on the Creation Week: A short series


A while back, I taught a short series on creation for my Sunday school class. It was supposed to last for the summer and I had planned on covering several topics like the role of creation in evangelism, various ways some Christians reinterpret Genesis in order to fit it with popular scientific theories, and how to answer some of the more common objections people raise against creation. One lesson I had planned was to cover the days of the creation week, giving a short description on what happened each day. However, there were so many questions asked and such interest shown that the single lesson I had planned ended up being stretched over 5 lessons.

It was during that time that I realized that, even though the language of Genesis 1 is straight forward and easy to read, many Christians don't stop to consider the full impact of what is happening on each day – not so much from a spiritual perspective but rather from a physical one. To that end, I thought it would be worthwhile to have a short series of post, each covering one day of the creation week. This isn't meant to be a treaty on the subject. Instead, I hope to simply open a few eyes to the realization that what is being described were real events that literally shaped the world.

Because they were real events, understanding the days of the creation week helps us understand science. Rather than reinterpreting Scripture in order to make it fit with secular views of our origins, we can use the clear meaning of the words in Genesis to gain an appreciation of the physical processes that were occurring.

As I go through this series, I may mention popular reinterpretations of Scripture but they won't be my focus. I've written before about some of the most common ways Christians interpret Genesis in order to reconcile the Bible with science. In this series, I won't spend much time rebutting alternative interpretations but will present the most obvious meaning (as determined by a plain reading of the text) as the correct meaning.

It's my plan to spend a single post addressing each day of the creation week. The only exception to this might be the sixth day, where I may spend an extra post covering some of the events described in Genesis 2. I'm also going to try to post twice per week so this won't be stretched out over months. Please keep checking back. And, of course, comments are encouraged.


God bless!!