THE CASE FOR RECENT CREATION
The Bible teaches that in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, (Ex. 20:11). Until modern times, nearly all Christians regarded these as literal twenty-four hour days. Today, however, many Christian leaders deny a brief, recent creation. By means of exotic interpretations of Genesis 1-2, they seek to harmonize the Bible with the supposed “facts” of science, thereby making Scripture teach what it does not: theistic evolution or progressive creation. (1) In this article I argue that such accommodation is neither wise nor necessary, since recent creation is both important and reasonable to believe.
Why It’s Important
Theologically and pastorally, the doctrine of recent creation turns out to be surprisingly important.
First, recent creation preserves the perspicuity of Scripture. Whether friend or foe, all agree that the Bible plainly teaches a recent good creation later marred by Adam’s sin. Therefore, accommodationist views do not really help unbelievers. Understanding full well that Christians are merely twisting the Scriptures to align them with prevailing scientific opinion, they are inclined to dismiss Genesis as mere myth. Meanwhile, accommodation troubles believers: if God cannot speak clearly about creation, about what else has He spoken in indecipherable myths and poems? Only if recent creation is true does the Bible speak clearly, and therefore authoritatively, to all.
Secondly, recent creation preserves the glory of God. How powerful is God if He evolved the cosmos, or created it piecemeal, rather than simply speaking it into existence, (Psalm 33:8-9)? How wise, if He designed the cosmos as a home for man, but waited 15 billion years to situate him in it, (Is. 45:18)? And how good, if for aeons He riddled it with natural evil — decay, biological trial and error, violence, bloodshed, sickness, suffering, death and extinction — and then told us He did not, (Psalm 145:9, Gen. 1:31)? Intuitively, we expect a wise, powerful, and good creator. Only recent creation gives us one.
Thirdly, recent creation preserves the infrastructure of biblical cosmology and redemption. This is most important. Fundamentally, the Bible is a story of two men and two worlds. Through the sin of the first man a great host of spiritual and physical enemies enters a good universe that is henceforth cursed, (Genesis 1:31, 3:1ff, Romans 5:12, 8:20). Through the righteousness of the last man, that same host is driven out, leaving (for all who are in Him by faith) a universe that is henceforth (and forever) filled with the glory of God, (Romans 5, 8:21, Rev. 21).
Accommodationist views shatter this simple, highly supernatural picture, raising many troubling questions. If God created natural evil before Adam, will He yet again create it after Christ? If He used natural, evolutionary processes to create, might He not also use natural, evolutionary processes to redeem? Perhaps the Bible really is an archaic religious poem, hinting darkly at a mystery revealed only in modern times by (secular) science: salvation by theistic or pantheistic evolution. Against all such heresy recent creation stands impassable, a mighty bulwark for the true biblical worldview.
We see, then, that recent creation is important. But is it really reasonable for modern man to believe it?
Why It’s Reasonable
Recent creation is the plain teaching of Genesis 1. There, the writer defines a creation-day in terms of “evening and morning,” thereby purposely associating it with a solar day. Similarly, he repeatedly uses the word “day” with numbers — and whenever the OT does (410 times), the days are literal. Note also that this chapter stands at the head of a lengthy historical narrative: like all the rest of Genesis (a book loaded with genealogies, or histories, of this and that) it is clearly intended as history, not poetry. Thus, both text and context support the traditional view. (2) Exegetically, is it really reasonable to look for another?
Moreover, recent creation is the faith of all the other biblical authors, including Christ and His apostles. (3) Especially impressive are the Lord’s words concerning marriage: “From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female,” (Mark 10:6). In Jesus’ mind, Adam and Eve were no cosmic latecomers. His assumptions are clear: at the beginning of the entire universe, God made man and woman to become one flesh, and has ever since.
Since recent creation is the teaching of the whole Bible, it is further supported by all the evidences for the Bible’s divine inspiration. These are many and weighty: the Bible’s Christ-centered unity, its hundreds of fulfilled types and prophecies, its historical accuracy, its life-changing power, its civilizing influence, the testimony of the risen Christ, and the witness of the Spirit of truth. With so much evidence for an inspired Bible, it is actually quite unreasonable not to believe its testimony about recent creation.
Finally, recent creation is confirmed, but not proven, by miscellaneous scientific evidences. This distinction is important. The origin of the universe, life, and man are unique events, hidden in the unobservable past. Therefore, being shut up to the human present, natural science cannot see, reveal, or prove them. God, however, can, since He was there. He can tell us (something of) what He saw, help us to understand it, and assure us (prove to us) that it is true. Always remember: certain knowledge about the beginning comes only by revelation from God.
In a perfect world, all men would receive this revelation and interpret present phenomena (e.g., starlight, fossilized strata, etc.) accordingly. In the real world, however, sinful men often spurn God’s revelation, using uncertain presuppositions and equivocal phenomena to develop ever-changing cosmological opinions–opinions they want the rest of us to receive as revealed truth, (Romans 1:18, 8:7)!
This situation demands great caution. Yes, Christians may reasonably expect present phenomena to confirm biblical cosmology. And as a matter of fact they do, frequently and reassuringly. But even if they did not, believers must never subordinate divine truth to mere human observation, interpretation and speculation. This was the epistemological disaster of the Enlightenment. We dare not repeat it. Our conscience, and our cosmology, must be captive to the Word of God.
Scientific Evidence Favorable to Recent Creation
Happily, it is easy to show that the vast majority of “cosmic chronometers” (i.e., natural phenomena indicating the age of things) confirm recent creation. Unhappily, I can only mention here a few out of several hundred. If the universe is old (and the standard evolutionary scenario true), our own Milky Way, a highly integrated spiral galaxy, should have wound itself up into an amorphous cluster long ago. Solar wind and the Poynting-Robertson effect should have eliminated all the dust particles near the sun. Meteorites in the earth’s crust should be far more abundant. The earth’s molten core should be cool and its decaying magnetic field gone. Atmospheric helium should be 2000 times more abundant. Ocean mineral deposits (e.g., salt) and river sediments should be vastly more abundant. Preserved red blood cells and hemoglobin, recently found in unfossilized dinosaur bones, should be dust. People (and people’s bones) should be piled to the mountaintops! In these and many other such cases, reality speaks up for recent creation.
But what of chronometers that seem to give an old age for things? Observe in the following discussion how these phenomena are either equivocal or actually support the creation model.
Geology: Sedimentary, fossil-bearing strata indicate old age only if the strata were laid down slowly by uniform processes. There is, however, much evidence to indicate that they were laid down suddenly, apparently by a global flood. This includes soft-tissue fossils, polystrate fossils, delicate imprints atop strata, the absence of embedded life and chemical erosion atop strata, upwarped and folded strata, etc. Further evidence for a flood includes vast animal graveyards (even in the arctic regions), marine fossils and pillow lava on mountaintops (pillow lava only forms under water), the Grand Canyon (both layers and cut), and over 200 flood legends.
Radiometric Dating: Accurate dating of rocks (supposedly) formed by radioactive decay is possible only if we know the initial amounts of the parent element, that the rate of decay was constant, and that the system remained closed (i.e., unaffected by water, heat, pressure, etc.). With so many unknowns and variables, it is hardly surprising that radioactive dating gives an uncertain sound. For example, in one study, the potassium/argon method dated Grand Canyon rocks at ten thousand to 117 million years. The rubidium/strontium method put them at 1.27 to 1.39 billion years, and the lead/lead-isochron method at 2.6 billion years! Interestingly, recent creationist research confirms that decay rates of at least some radiogenic elements have indeed slowed drastically, thereby supplying at least a partial explanation of why very young rocks appear to be very old. (4)
Starlight and Time: Starlight from (supposedly) distant galaxies indicates a vast age for the universe only if the stars really are very far away, the light we now see actually emanated from them, space does not significantly affect its speed or trajectory, and “c” (the speed of light) has always been constant. By and large, naturalists make all these assumptions. Biblical theists, however, with an eye to Scriptures, mull other exciting possibilities. For example, perhaps God, on Day Four, created not only the stars, but also cords of light connecting them with the newborn earth (and each other). (5) Perhaps c was very high during the fourth, fifth, and sixth day of creation, but slowed on the seventh, or after Adam’s fall, or gradually over time. Perhaps the physics of space make near objects in a small universe appear far away in a large. Since the Bible does not explicitly endorse any of these hypotheses, it is likely that we will never be sure about which one, or ones, are true. (6) Nevertheless, we can be sure that with God all things are possible — even the creation of a luminous star-laden universe in six literal days.
Summing up, we find that recent creation is both important and reasonable. Let us therefore believe what God has said. This will honor Him, enlarge our enthusiasm for His Word, provide a much-needed bulwark against cosmic evolution, and extend real hope to every seeker after truth.
- See Henry and John Morris, The Modern Creation Trilogy (Master Books), Vol. 1, pp. 35-63.
- Don Batten, ed., The Revised Answers Book (Master Books), pp. 33-56.
- Mt. 24:21, Mk. 2:27, Ro. 1:20, 5:12, 8:19-22, Heb. 9:6, 2 Peter 3:5-6
- Carl Wieland, “Radiometric Dating Breakthroughs,” Creation Magazine, March-May, 2004.
- Given the biblically attested fact that God created all things, including man, with an appearance of age, this seems likely
- Walt Brown, In the Beginning, (Center for Scientific Creation, 7th Edition), pp. 232-237. See also John Byl, God and Cosmos (Banner of Truth); Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise (Master Books); Joe White, Darwin’s Demise (Master Books)