The Bible’s Viewpoint
What Does Genesis Really Say?
“SCIENTIFIC CREATIONISTS” say that according to the Bible book of Genesis, the universe was created by God less than ten thousand years ago. They also say that the earth and its life-forms were created in six literal 24-hour days.
On the other hand, evolutionary thinking views Genesis as a myth. It teaches that the universe and the earth, with all its living things, are the product of a chance evolutionary process that spanned billions of years.
However, there are many who are uncomfortable with both of these theories. Parts of the scientific-creationist theory seem to contradict common sense and also go against the evidence we can see for ourselves throughout nature. Yet, the idea that life in all its wonderful complexity is merely the product of blind evolutionary forces seems hard for many to accept. Are these two views, then, the only alternatives?
No. There is a third view. It is what the Bible book of Genesis itself really says. Let us consider this third alternative.
The Genesis Explanation
The opening words of Genesis tell us: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Do these words of Genesis say that this happened about ten thousand years ago? No, it gives no time period. “The beginning” could therefore have been billions of years ago.
However, right at “the beginning,” the Bible puts an intelligent being, the Creator, in control of the creative work. Although many scientists are uncomfortable with this idea, it harmonizes with the conclusions of astronomers that the universe did have a beginning, that it is very well ordered, and that it is governed by definite laws. An orderly arrangement based on law can come only from an intelligent mind. While science has explained many of these laws to us, Genesis alone introduces us to the Lawgiver.
The account in Genesis then goes on to outline the famous six “days” of creation. These days, though, were not the time during which the material of the earth and the universe was created. That had already happened “in the beginning.” The six days of creation were, rather, the periods of time during which the primordial, inhospitable earth was slowly made fit for habitation.
Was each one of those six days a literal 24-hour day? That is not what Genesis says. The word “day” in the Hebrew language (the language in which Genesis was written) can mean long periods of time, even thousands of years. (Compare Psalm 90:4; Genesis 2:4.) For example, “the seventh day” in which we now live is thousands of years long. (Genesis 2:2, 3) Hence, the evidence shows that the entire period of six days should be viewed as tens of thousands of years long.
“According to Their Kinds”
The order of the six creative epochs shows a procession of water, earth, light, atmosphere, plants, fish, birds, animals, and finally humans. (Genesis 1:3-27) This order of development is generally in agreement with the order uncovered by scientists.
But a noteworthy statement appears repeatedly in the account in Genesis chapter 1. For example, regarding the fifth creative day, Genesis 1:21 tells us: “And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds.” Regarding the sixth day, Ge 1 verse 24 reads: “Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds, domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth according to its kind.”
Hence, it was the kinds of animals that were created, not every individual species. But the various “kinds” were created separately and are not descended from one another. Within each “kind,” there could be great variety, as we see in the cat “kind” or the dog “kind” or the human “kind.” But genetic factors put there by the Creator would always keep these “kinds” separate from one another. That is why a cat and a dog cannot mate and start another form of life.
True, this contradicts the evolution theory. But it does not contradict any observed facts. While animals produce much variety within their “kind,” no one has ever documented that one “kind” of animal has reproduced or evolved into a different “kind.”
But what of the structural similarities that exist between certain kinds of animals? These are understandable when we consider that all of them are the product of one Creator and that they were designed from the same materials of the earth to live in a similar environment.
Additionally, Genesis provides an answer to a problem that scientists cannot solve: From where did life come? Scientists try to answer this question with various theories, but in truth they cannot. And the hard fact that has been proved repeatedly in scientific laboratories is that life can come only from already existing life, and from the same “kind” of life.
Genesis also tells us that life is older than the universe and that all other life in heaven and on earth issued from the original Source of life, the almighty Creator, who says that his name is Jehovah. Science cannot come up with a better explanation, one that harmonizes with all the scientific facts that we can observe.—Psalm 36:9; 83:18; Isaiah 42:8; Revelation 4:11.
The Beginning of Man
The final creative work on earth, according to Genesis, was man himself: “And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Scientists too consider man a latecomer compared with other life-forms.
However, this scripture does contradict the belief of most scientific creationists that man has an immortal soul separate and distinct from his body. This soul is said to depart from the body after death. Yet, Genesis, as well as many other portions of the Scriptures, shows that man does not have a soul as something immaterial residing in him. Rather, he is a soul. At death man passes into nonexistence, awaiting a resurrection. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:12, 13) The Bible likens death to a sleep from which one can be awakened in the resurrection.—John 11:11, 43, 44.
The statement at Genesis 2:7 also contradicts the theory of evolution in another way. It clearly shows that man was created directly by God and that he did not descend from animals.
Is the Genesis statement believable? Well, science has not produced any proof that man descended from animals. There is no proof that the apelike fossils dug up in Africa and elsewhere were in any way ancestors of man. Indeed, if they were alive today, they would likely be placed in zoos with other apelike creatures. Any fossils very closely related in bone structure and size to humans were likely just a branch of the human family.
Also, man’s relationship to the “dust from the ground,” as Genesis puts it, is indisputable. All the chemicals that make up the human body are found in the “dust from the ground.” In fact, man relies on this “dust” for his continued existence. He sustains and regenerates his body with food made of nutrients that are found in the “dust from the ground,” processed through the plants and animals that he eats.
Savage—Or Son of God?
Another description of the creation of man is found at Genesis 1:26. There God says: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) Since the Bible tells us that God is a spirit, the phrase “in our image” must be understood to mean possessing God’s qualities.
This statement explains, in a way that evolution never could, why man is so different from the animals. Only man can control the animals and the vegetation around him. Only man has a moral sense and a conscience. Only man has a wide freedom of choice and such a developed intelligence. Only man has the ability to conceive of the existence of God and the gift of speech with which to speak to Him. The Journal of Semitic Studies says: “Human speech is a secret; it is a divine gift.”
Evolutionists picture earliest humans as brutish and savage. Doubtless, much savagery was committed by some earlier members of the human race. But modern man has also been savage, as the one hundred million slaughtered in this century’s wars testify. To this very day, he behaves savagely! Nevertheless, the Bible shows that the moral and intellectual potential of early man was not inferior to that of modern man. (Compare Genesis 4:20-22; 5:22; 6:9.) This does not contradict observed facts. Take, for example, the paintings by so-called prehistoric humans found on the walls of Lascaux Cave in France. The sensitivity and artistic ability displayed in those paintings evoke much admiration even today.
Real Significance of Genesis
Thus, the early chapters of Genesis 1-3 provide a glimpse of the beginning of things. However, Genesis is not a detailed scientific textbook, nor was it intended to be. The information that it contains has a deeper purpose.
For example, it shows that man’s happiness depended on his continuing to cooperate with his Creator’s purposes. But when man refused to acknowledge this obligation and rebelled against God’s arrangements, he lost his original happiness and made the swift descent into sin and death and the savagery we still see.—Genesis 3:1-18; Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.
The first chapters of Genesis 1-3 show, however, that immediately after man’s rebellion, God took the first step of his long-range purpose to restore humankind to its original happiness. A “seed” would come to counteract the bad effects of man’s sin. (Genesis 3:15) Who that Seed would be is a prominent theme of much of the rest of the Bible. And after recording that the Seed did eventually come in the person of the Messiah, Jesus, the Bible goes on to describe how the arrangements God has made, focusing on Jesus, would eventually reverse the tragic course humans have taken. It also describes how the entire earth will be transformed into a paradise inhabited by perfect humans, a paradise where war, violence, crime, unhappiness, and even sickness and death will never again plague the human family.—Psalm 46:9; Revelation 21:4, 5.
Yes, Genesis is much more than just the story of creation. It sets the stage for all of mankind’s history—past, present, and future. Much of history, and life itself, is incomprehensible if we omit those important first steps. Indeed, we put our future in jeopardy if we ignore what Genesis really says.—1 John 2:15-17.
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The Genesis account of creation does not contradict observed facts
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The facts verify the Genesis account that living things were created “according to their kinds”
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Without the Bible’s account, we cannot explain human history or the purpose of life
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The Bible shows that the entire earth will be made a paradise