Science and Scripture; Geology and Genesis
by Gaines Johnson
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Over the centuries, countless theologians and laymen have sought to reconcile the words of the Genesis Creation account with the observed reality on the ground. Their quests have resulted in numerous and sundry interpretations to explain the "meaning" of the seven days of Genesis. A brief review of the major theories shows the great diversity of opinion and belief on the matter. Nearly all of these theories arise from trying to read something INTO the Bible that is just not there, or from dealing with only the things of the physical realm.
Armed with only the observations of current and historical geologic processes and other empirical data, and assuming natural history has been a continuum across billions of years, the present secular paradigms of geological and evolutionary theory are about the best belief system that the educated carnal mind of man could be expected to conceive and accept from the available physical evidence.
Secular scientists are confident to point out scientific inaccuracies of the Bible because they have been led to view the Bible through the distorted lenses of traditional Biblical interpretation. What these scientists have successfully contradicted is traditionally-held Biblical truth; specifically, that all things were created out of nothing only about six thousand years ago, as espoused by the Young Earth Creationists who have seized center stage in the current debate. Still, without the input of Biblical Authority, current theories are incomplete and many questions and mysteries remain unresolved, especially in relation to the origins of mankind.
Theology is the study about the things of God and Geology is the study of the Earth and its physical characteristics. And at the very beginning of the Bible the reader is confronted with a mysterious statement about the Earth's characteristics. When the wording of the Holy Bible is concisely parsed and taken at face value, it reveals that the planet Earth was already here, but in a ruined and desolate state, before the six days work of Genesis even began:
"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."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)
A further comparison of Scripture with Scripture reveals that what God made in those six days was a new heavens and Earth - a regeneration made from the ruins of what had existed before the present world of Man:
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
(2 Pet 3:5-7 KJV)
When you strip away the traditional appeals, and get down to the solid core of what the Bible actually and truly says, Scripture compared to Scripture, there is no scientific evidence in existence today to refute what it actually says: all life, indeed an entire ancient world order, had already perished from the face of the Earth long before the seven days of Genesis. The rightly-divided Scriptures reveal that the seven days of Genesis are a REGENERATION of the heavens and earth, and that life on this planet has not been an actual continuum. Both the Bible and scientific data are most certainly in agreement on one very key point: This planet Earth is very, very old, and if God authored both the Word and Earth's geologic record, no real contradiction in fact can possibly exist. The fault MUST be interpretive, on both sides.
Divine creative intervention by a Holy God is not factored into the world's accepted origins model, because God can't be observed or quantified in a physical system or seen under a microscope, although the results of His work can be observed and quantified. For these reasons there is an unbridgeable gap between secular Empirical Science and the Christian faith in respect to both Creation and Noah's flood. Empirical Science is the pursuit of quantifiable facts and repeatable observations and is limited to the physical sphere of reality. From this purely physical perspective, the geological evidence appears to indicate that this planet and the life on it are the result of natural processes over time, and that the existence of all life forms and extinction must be credited to a natural process of random mutations and selection by nature itself. In such a paradigm of interpretation, the researcher's faith is in a theory or synthesis of theories which seems to best fit the observations.
The Christian, on the other hand, must also deal with spiritual things, which are just as real as physical things, but can only been seen through the agency of faith by the illumination of the Word of God. A true born-again Christian (who is also a scientist) cannot be fully objective in an empirical perspective in dealing with the question of origins. The acceptance of God's words on matters of original sin and supernatural agency hold us accountable to a higher interpretive system; a system which has no place of welcome in the institutional physical sciences of the world. No amount of compromise will be acceptable to either the Naturalists or Creationist extremes of each respective school. That being said, please do not misunderstand. A lot of good knowledge emerges from the practice of good science and the scientific method, and there are a lot of good Christians who are scientists. But when it comes to matters of origins and the things of God, natural science (without God) is as much out of its depth in providing the full truth as the Young Earth Creationist is who ignores solid scientific data.
"Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein.
Behind the scenes, however, the real driving issue between Naturalists and Creationists is not the existence of God. The real issue is whether all things were created by the Hebrew God of the Holy Bible and according to a designed purpose and specific time scale. The authority of the Bible and the moral issue of personal accountability to God are the hidden root of all contention in that debate.
Those who have a well-grounded faith in the Scriptures and a good knowledge of the geological evidence (not just theories) are in the better position to attain to a more perfect understanding of how Godís Word says all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It is only when we accept God and His words as the final authority in ALL matters that we are able to perceive the complete picture and resolve the "6,000 years problem" at the heart of the controversy.
The Bible will ALWAYS have an answer, although we may not immediately see it. For example, it was not until a few centuries ago that the Geological sciences had progressed to the point where the previously-accepted 6,000 year age of the Earth, which was dogma in both the institutions of Church and science, began to be questioned by what was observed in the geological record. Some theologians of the day who were honest enough to realize the truth of those emerging observations and were steadfast, faithful, and committed to defending the Scriptures, were inspired to observe the possibility of a time "Gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in the creation narrative. That "Gap" had always been there, ever since the day Moses penned the book, but not many eyes were open to seeing or understanding it until the times were right. It was already there when the Scottish theologian, Thomas Chalmers, first noticed and began to preach it in the early 19th century. Up until then, the real age of the Earth was not a burning issue. But when the proper time came, the Word of God once again proved itself timely and relevant to the level of scientific understanding of the day. This is "Progressive Revelation."
The full truth about Creation for a faithful Bible Believer must fit all the observations and verses, not just some of them. The full truth is only revealed by a prayerful examination of the EXACT wording of the scriptures, through the Spirit of Truth, and faith in those words combined with some common sense and reasoning (Isaiah 1:18). It also takes courage and trust in the Lord's words and His wisdom, not yours, to see how it all fits together; and, when necessary, standing against the majority position in such matters.
Remember, in order to effectively witness to the lost, we must be able to demonstrate to the unsaved scientist or intellectual that one does not have to give up his/her brain to believe in Jesus and the Bible; to tell them that God published so that they would not perish. (Let the reader understand the play on the metaphor.) If you can deal with the facts on their turf and show them you know what you are talking about, then you have a better chance to convince them of their need for Jesus. An honest interpretation of the Scriptures, and unprejudiced consideration of the geologic data, will enable the Bible Believer to effectively witness.
Taking the literal words of the Holy Bible on face value is the more prudent route, and doing so requires consideration of both the things that can been seen AND the invisible things of God. The truth that those words reveal is not hard to understand, but for a great many they are certainly very hard to believe. In order to grasp the full truth, it is crucial to have an understanding of how physical things and spiritual things are actually very closely interrelated.
The world we have all been born into consists of physical things which can been seen, touched, tasted, tested, and comprehended by the mind of man. That is the physical aspect of reality; it is observable and quantifiable. On the other hand, the Bible reveals to mankind that there is a spiritual component of reality that requires the Spirit of God to observe and fully comprehend (see Romans 8:7). Although the physical and spiritual realms seem to be two different things, this is not exactly so. The forces of the spiritual realm directly determine the behavior and function of the things in the physical realm:
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
(Ephesians 2:2 KJV)
The substance known as "air" is a physical thing composed of various gases (mostly Nitrogen and Oxygen). Satan, the Devil, is the prince of the power of the air. He is a spiritual being of very ancient origin who currently has control over the physical things of this present world (under God's permissive will, of course).
Men and women are a synergy of flesh and spirit. Air is necessary for the life of the flesh, and the life of the flesh is in the blood. The flesh is composed of various physical elements from the Earth and functions through physical electrochemical processes. The spirit of man directs the workings of his flesh (mind over matter). According to the Scriptures, mankind's flesh is under the influence of the spiritual power of Death.
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not."
(Romans 7:18 KJV)
Both the spirit and the mind of the unsaved are under that malignant control (I'm not going to MIND God, so it does not MATTER). If they are saved, their Flesh and Spirit are in constant conflict, and will be until the day they die (unless the Lord returns before they die). This corruption in nature is not limited to people, or just to the Earth. The Bible tells us it permeates the entire physical universe.
"Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight."
(Job 25:5 KJV)
"Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight."
(Job 15:15 KJV)
If these things be true, the bottom line is that all present physical life forms in the universe are generated by a process driven by Death, because all nature feeds on Death. You kill and eat dead things in order to live and procreate other life forms; then things kill and eat you. Mankind is not at the top of the proverbial Food Chain; worms, viruses and bacteria are. The physical life cycle of this present world is a violent and insatiable downward spiral towards total corruption and entropy. It is not "evolving," but "devolving" into more and more corruption. To be "one with nature" so to speak is to be one with the spirit of Death, not Holiness. As can be seen from these verses, there is much more to understanding the Biblical meaning of "Death" than is apparent on the surface.
"Dead [things] are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof."
(Job 26:5 KJV)
"Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling."
(Psalms 49:14 KJV)
Death has both a physical and spiritual component. Understanding why this is so is crucial to understanding many things in the Scriptures, especially the Genesis creation narrative.
Since the entire course of physical nature is affected and influenced by spiritual forces, we must therefore conclude that the correct interpretation of the Genesis account is revealed in the dualistic context of both the physical AND spiritual realms, not just the realm of matter. THAT is the fundamental flaw in the myriad past and present interpretations of the seven days of Genesis, and what has been missing from most previous interpretations of Genesis.
Creationism can not be defended in a purely physical context. It is only when this dualistic precept is understood and accepted that it becomes possible to begin to more perfectly understand and interpret what the Spirit is saying in the Genesis narrative (see Gen 1:1-2:1 to review the verses).
In order to fully comprehend exactly what is being stated in the Genesis Creation narrative and why, we must look back in time through the Scriptures to the very beginning; to the time of Genesis 1:1, when the "sons of God" rejoiced over the initial creation of the heaven and the earth:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
(Job 38:4-7 KJV)
Where did Satan and the Angels come from? Who are these "sons of God" spoken of here and in Genesis 6:1-2? They certainly were not men, as they were here before the Earth was created. Who are the "devils" spoken of in the Gospels? The perceptive student will immediately see from the wording of the above verse that these angelic beings were also created creatures, and were created BEFORE the Lord God began the work of the original creation of the heavens and Earth. How these created beings fit into the overall story is only revealed by the Spirit through the Scriptures. Many of those answers are found in the story of the Pre-Adamite World and the Origin of Satan; the nature of the world which existed at his beginning, his rebellion, and the unleashing of Death across the original creation in the ancient past as a result of his rebellion against God.
Going back to matters of natural geologic history, the Bible does not give a specific number of years for the age of the planet earth as it does for the present "world" on the face of the planet, approximately 6,000 years. Neither does it provide much direct knowledge about what transpired on the earth from the time it was originally created in the ancient past (Gen 1:1) until it is seen again in darkness and ruin (Gen 1:2), prior to the six-day regeneration event by the direct intervention of the Spirit of God (Gen 1:3-2:1). God has chosen to preserve for us the geologic record and His Words to assist us in our search for those answers. The Bible only tells us WHY it became void and without form and provides much insight into the sequence of past events leading up to it. It is only a matter of knowing where to find it in the Bible. Fortunately, much of what happened at the very end of the Pre-Adamite world can be observed in the geology of the Pleistocene.
Could the Pre-Adamite race of hominids that was on this earth before Adam, and whose physical structure was so similar to modern man, actually have been the physical remains of the fallen "sons of God" who took on flesh and bone to dwell in the world of the old physical creation? The Bible tells us that they did something similar both before and after the days of Noah:
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown."
(Genesis 6:4 KJV)
If this is true, then it would go a long way in explaining the real truth about the ancient remains of Neanderthal and other ancient hominids, which the Evolutionists claim are the ancestors of modern man. Without the knowledge (or acceptance) of the Biblical time gap (Gap Theory), the logical assumption would be that they were our ancestors. But, DNA analysis of Neanderthal remains suggests no biological connection between those remains and modern living humans. The missing link is still missing. Those creatures, which had a physical likeness similar to man, were not the ancestors of man. They may have been fallen angels or the mutated offspring of angels breeding with biologics. This makes perfect sense, because everywhere in the Bible where angels appear in our present world, they appear as men (consider the following):
"And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the angel."
(Revelation 21:17 KJV)
"Yea, whiles I [was] speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation."
(Daniel 9:21 KJV)
If the "good" angels appear as men, does it not make sense that the "bad" ones would also? We therefore conclude that when God told Adam and Eve to "replenish" the earth (Genesis 1:28), that which Adam and Eve (true man) replaced was the fleshly race of the "sons of God" who inhabited the face of the old world and perished along with everything else by the time of Genesis 1:2, where the earth is found without form and void.
Taking the literal wording of the Bible and the face value of the available "scientific evidence" presented, this appears to be the only possible interpretation which meets BOTH the literal wording of the Scriptures and the scientific data.
The fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, is credited with this nugget of deductive reasoning:
"When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"
Although the originator of the principle was fictional, the principle itself is a very sound one in the search for truth.
We realize, of course, that appealing to scientific evidence to support the Bibleís Genesis narrative does not meet the acceptable standards of scientific empirical evidence, because in our interpretation of the available scientific evidence we elevate the Word of God to a position equal to, yea more than equal to, the prevailing body of scientific thought and opinion on matters of origins. As Christians, we place our faith in the authority of the God of the Holy Bible over the wisdom of men in all matters, be it scientific or religious.
As Christians, as Creationists, and as Bible Believers, we are in agreement with the doctrine that the Lord God "made" the present "world" complete with the heavens and earth, in six, literal 24-hour days, about 6,000 years ago, just as the Bible states in Exodus 20:11 (see also Heb.1:2). But that fundamental doctrine of the faith, in itself, is not the end of all Biblical truth. Neither Exodus 20:11 nor Romans 5:12 contradicts or invalidates the empirical geologic data that reveal that this planet Earth is also very ancient (on the order of hundreds of millions of years) and has a definite fossil history of being and habitation prior to the creative events that begin at Genesis 1:3.
Why such a statement is NOT a contradiction of the doctrine of Romans 5:12 is a difficult concept for many of our Brethren to grasp, because they have wrongly vilified ALL science in their zeal to stand for the defense of the Bible against Evolution. Unfortunately, many do so because of insufficient instruction in the Holy Scriptures and the sciences, which would empower them to make well-reasoned determinations by themselves.
Instead of wasting time arguing about better translations and holding up geological anomalies as proof against scientific realities of fact, spend more time learning about some very important Christian doctrines and Spiritual truths which are vanishing from the pulpits of today because of the sin of unbelief.
Learn, and then teach others about the truth of the "Sea" that is above the physical universe (Gen 1:6-10, Rev 4:6, Rev 21:1), what it is, and why it is presently there. Learn about the "Third Heaven." Full understanding of the Spiritual importance of such things is interrelated with a comprehensive knowledge of other equally important scriptural doctrines and precepts.
Study and learn about the dispensations (different times) as revealed in the Holy Bible. Get a firm understanding of the Chronology of the "Worlds" past, present, and future as revealed by your Bible. Learn the extremely important doctrinal differences between the terms "Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 11:12) and "Kingdom of God" (Luke 17:21) as presented in the Scriptures. From the very beginning of time until the end of time, control of the "Kingdom" is the central theme of struggle behind the whole Biblical story. If you don't get this down solid, you won't be able to get the full truth out of Genesis.
Learn all the truth about the 1,000 year literal reign of the Lord Jesus Christ and the regenerated heavens and earth (a new "world") when He returns (Matt 19:28, Isaiah 65:17-25, Revelation 20). Understand the continued existence of Death for surviving mankind (not resurrected saved Saints) who get the victory over the Beast, live through the Great Tribulation, and obtain entrance into that regenerated world (Isaiah 65:20) called the "Kingdom of Heaven." Learn why the Kingdom is here on the Earth during that period of time yet to come, a period which correlates in prophetic type to the seventh day of Genesis (see 2 Peter 3:8). Once you grasp these truths, you will more perfectly understand the full import of the final abolishment of Death after the 1,000 year Kingdom of Heaven on the earth (Rev 20:14) and the change of structure and dimensions of the new heaven and earth which will be created after the final judgment (Rev 21:1). Then the disappearance of the "Sea" in Revelation 21:1, which is between the second and third heavens, and which was first established at the beginning of the days of true man (see Genesis 1:6-10), will make sense. Confused? That is why you need to study and rightly divide the words of truth.
Only when the scriptures are taken as a whole, and interpreted as such, can the full truth be found. You also MUST be a born-again child of God to understand and accept some of these doctrines, because they are spiritually discerned (see 1 Cor. 2:14 and 1 John 2:20). Even for many saved people, some of this material is difficult at first; but as you learn these doctrines, more and more of your Bible will begin to open to you.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
(Proverbs 3:5 KJV)
"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)
All learning takes place on the periphery of what we have previously learned. The more you study the scriptures, the more you learn; and the more you learn and accept, more will be revealed to you:
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? [them that are] weaned from the milk, [and] drawn from the breasts. For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little:"
(Isaiah 28:9-10 KJV)
Claim these spiritual promises by faith, in full assurance that your Holy Bible is still a sure Authority. The Bible is an inexhaustible source of true knowledge and wisdom. A firm grounding in some of the basics of science and logic will complement a prayerful study of the Scriptures and enhance your understanding, and God's Spirit will witness to those things which are true and show which things are not. God is the author and creator of all things, both physical and spiritual. His Scriptures are the Final Authority in all matters, including the science of natural history. What we learn from the geological evidence beneath our feet provides important details to the whole story. That is why it is there; the rocks and fossils, as well as the other things in this world, testify of His workings, glory, and judgment across time and space (see Psalm 19).
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Erudite approach to a thorny issue. The parsing discussed does not agree with how scripture reads. Genesis 1:1 disputes the general thesis from word one. Recommend THE GENESIS RECORD by Dr. Henry Morris.
Erudite approach to a thorny issue. The parsing discussed does not agree with how scripture reads. Genesis 1:1 disputes the general thesis from word one. The observation that scripture and "reality" must agree is incorrect. They do agree. The Word of God tells us what is truth and reality. Our worldly observations (vis-a-vis science) confirm what scripture says (Young Earth, etc.). Where there are disputes, the Bible is still correct and is proved to be so as is now being demonstrated in the "Great Origins Debate (evolution vs Creationism)" in the US. Recommended reading: THE GENESIS RECORD by Dr. Henry M. Morris.
A well written scholarly article with profound spiritual insight apparently wriiten by one with well grounded scriptural knowledge. Highly recommended reading for all ages.
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