When asked what my favorite Bible verse is I always say “In the Begining God created the Heavens and the earth” not only do I love this verse but it was the first verse I ever memorized as a child. But some people have issues with this verse or the book of Genesis in general. To some having a creator is deemed offensive or impossible. People throw science around as if it’s the only truth in the world. Science doesn’t contradict the Bible, infact I have found many places in the Bible that Science actually supports. Science is not an enemy it is a tool to our growth and understanding which is why I love science. It was my favorite subject in Highschool, and no it did not lead me astray from God it brought me closer. I thought I’d compile 10 of my favorite facts about Genesis 1-2 that I have learned over the years to help people better understand that the book is not obsolete and that Science and the creator coexist.
1.The book of Genesis is a very ancient document
The book of Genesis is thousands of years old, it may not have been the first book put into the Bible, scholars actually suspect the first accounts of God were written by Job (But it was so long ago we don’t really know). When you read Genesis consider the historical and cultural background and to whom it was wrtten to. The book was initially written for people in an ancient time, however it’s still applicable today and easy to undrstand even if it is very blunt.
2.The Purpose of Genesis was a Theological account
The book was written in hebrew and it gave the people a foundation for their faith. God set himself from pagan gods and idols, all humans have it in their nature to worship something. It can be idols, money, possessions, someone famous etc but in our souls something makes our gears turn. What sets God apart from idols and other gods is God is an image free idoless God. If you look at all the other gods that have existed they all had images and they all did not last very long. There is a big difference between worhipping a rock or shine and worshiping a living relationship filled God. As for God’s image, it’s not a physical image it’s a spiritual image. Our spiritual make up is God’s image and it sets us all apart from every creature on this planet. The book of Genesis was also written to be understood by all languages and cultures. Many religions, even some today are specific to cultures, however the word of God is for ALL cultures. (This is a HUGE deal as if you think racism and discrimination is bad today it was much much worse during the days the Bible was being penned out yet it managed to speak of a message that all races, languages and tongues were equal)
3. Genesis was meant to record God’s creative account
Genesis was not intended to be an exhaustive account. Honestly if God explained EVERYTHING it would be a very very very big book. There is an outline of events in Genesis and the sequence of events even match scientific theories. There is just enough material in Genesis to support faith. And no, the book does not disprove science nor does science disprove Genesis. Although of course many people both theological and Scientific argue about this book still.
4. there can be Many interpretations
Genesis is one of the hardest books to interpret. It’s so old and there are so many theories out there. It is still a simplistic book but you could take 3 simple words and humans could bend and twist them. But the main point is, every time there is a new discovery about creation…it does not disprove the book of Genesis it actually supports it. People still argue this BUT many look at science in awe and there’s nothing scary about it nor can it impact faith.
5. There was a begining
Science can’t explain the existence of matter. There was a big bang? Where did the particles come from that caused it? Nobody has EVER been able to answer that question. We were either always here OR there was a begining and most scientists agree there was a begining. Well guess what? The Bible starts the creation story with there being a begining.
6. There is no time reference in Genesis 1-2
Exactly when the begining occured is not specified. We do not know the age of the universe, we can only keep guessing however Genesis did not give us an actual time line. Some people may try to calculate the age of the earth through Geneology but this is still questionable. Christians might worry that perhaps the universe is Billions of years old but what we need to remember is there is nothing to fear, the universe being a Billionyears old or created last week does not matter and should not impact ones faith. God is NOT limited by time like we are.
7. There were at least 2 types of activities by God
“Bara” a Hebrew word is used to describe creating something. This word in the old testament is used ONLY to reference God and is translated to “Create” or “created” (Gen1:1, Gen1:21, Gen1:27, Gen 5:1-2) This refers to the creation of matter, conscious life and creation of creatures and humans.
There are other words too. In Genesis 1:2 to suggest the initial creation was not complete the phrase “Let” or “let there be” is used. God is further shaping and forming the basic created matter after initial creation. This too supports science! Science indicates change happens all the time, well the Bible says so as well. So is evolution possible? Absolutely we can see it in evidence gathered today that change and adaptation happens is animals and plants all the time. It is wonderful that God allowed things to continue to shape and change.
8. There were specific periods (Days) of creative activity
These creative periods provide us with a basic outline of God’s activities. Are these literal 24 hour days? Or could they have been longer periods of time? The Hebrew word used is “yom” and can have several meanings. This includes a 24 hour time period or a period of undetermined length. Scholars can’t determine if the word was used for 24 hours or an unspecified period. All we know is there were time periods for each sequence of event. Even the phrase “Evening and morning” can mean something different. Most would assume 24 hours but it is an idiomic expression to indicate either 24 hours or undetermined but set time. The exact length of these periods is undetermined. We can interpret it any way we like, but in the end who really cares? Does it matter if the universe is a billion years old or 10 000 years old? No! Humans made in God’s image might be only 15 000 or so years old but how long the earth was here before man does not matter.
9. God created various kinds of living things
The word Kind is not the same as “Species” and was used to class a group of living things. Science came into play to determine and classify species. The Bible didn’t mention species it just mentioned large groupings of specific creatures (Air, sea, land etc) It’s not important to know what animals lived during those time periods. We find their bones anyways so we don’t need a book to tell us. As for Dinosuars it is probably unlikely they walked on the earth with humans as their biological makeup was different and they would have had a different type of air mass during their time just to breathe, one humans might not have been able to thrive in. Dinosuars died and probably for a purpose. If not for those time periods we would not have plastic, cars etc because we would not have fossil fuels.
10. Human beings are part of the biological world but bear the likeness/image of God
Genesis tells us that human beings were formed from the dust (gen 2:7). For this reason, our physical makeups are made up of the same elements as other living things as well as non living things such as water, earth, air, stars and planets. Because humans are made of the same elements of the earth as other creations there are certain characteristics we share with other living things. God “Breathed The breath of life” into the man that he had created (Gen 2:7) The term Breath of life is used in reference to other animals as well humans (Gen 7:21-22)> This can be thought as Biological life and something we share with all living things. The cells in our body and chemical make up is similar to other creatures and our biological life ends in death and the physical body returns to the earth.
Unlike all the other creatures Humans were made in the image of God. It is God’s likeness that sets us apart from the Biological world and gives humans a distinction and status in the creation. The image of God we possess gives us the spiritual dimesntion and makes each human being a person similar to the way in which God is a person. Humans are a personal being and have personality because God is a personal being and has personaility. We were created by God with the capacity and responsibility to act morally (Gen 2:16-17) Humans are free moral agents and must make decisions and act according to moral principals. Some may choose to deny this and live as if there is no such thing as right and wrong but it’s their choice. God didn’t create us to be robots who were enslaved, he created us for relationship purposes. For example if you loved someone it would feel better if they chose to love you back and not feel so great if you forced them to love you back. That’s how God is, we can’t be forced to love him we should chose whether or not to love God.
I’m always in awe when I read Genesis. There was a time in my walk of faith I used to never mention Genesis because at the time it made no sense. But now that my mind has been open to this book I am very excited and feel that my faith is reassured by the book of Genesis. Growing in my faith I always thought we were physically made in God’s image but being made in His spiritual image makes a whole lot more sense. I don\t believe in a creator because I’m a closed minded person who wants to bash Science, I believe in a creator because too much evidence in my life have pointed out a real living God and not just a God who created us and left it at that but one who is very relationship orientated. I hope that some of the things uncovered in genesis will help answer any questions are help build a stronger faith.
References: Genesis 1-2
Does God Exist? May/June 2013 Volume 40 number 3 http://www.doesgodexist.org