The Bible and Science:
Creation of Earth and the Universe
In believing in God the Creator, a Christian is often labelled gullible, and laughed at for blindly accepting Biblical accounts as fact. Atheist scientists dismiss the Genesis story as fairy tales made up by primitive tribes.
From the opposite viewpoint, many Christians feel they must not accept anything the scientists say. They fear it will compromise or even destroy their faith.
But are science and the account of creation in Genesis completely incompatible?
The next few articles discuss these issues and later point out the many flaws in the Theory of Evolution. Christians never need to feel it shows a lack of intelligence to believe in the Creator. Evolution is not proved, as often stated, and the Biblical account remains standing firm within a comprehensive investigation.
What does the Bible actually say?
In Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 it says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (NIV).
Scientists agree that time began with the universe. Albert Einstein showed beyond doubt that time and the universe are completely united. It exists by measuring distances from one object to another. It varies depending on where you are in the universe too. For instance, Jupiter’s year is equal to 11.86 of one of ours.
The Bible doesn’t state how long ago God created the universe. God is outside time; a thousand years are like one day to him. (Psalm 90 verse 4). Scientists suggest thousands of millions of years. Viewing the universe through radio astronomy, they set the date at 6,000 million. Maarten Schmidt, a Dutch astronomer, discovered quasars in the 1960s and set the date back to 8,000 million years.
Was God creating anything that long ago? Whether he was or not, he was there then, the same amazing holy God we know now. It says in the Bible God had planned our salvation before the foundation of the earth.
The word creation in Hebrew is bara. It doesn’t necessarily mean to create out of nothing. For example “God created man from the dust of the ground.” (Genesis chapter 2 verse 7). It can mean a long period of time or instantly. The Bible says God created the nation of Israel – that took centuries.
Science cannot tell us where life came from or where the energy in every atom came from. Believing God created everything gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It is something science cannot give.
God was there, involved with each development of the creation. Genesis chapter 1 verse 2 says, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
The scientific description of the forming earth is a molten mass which gradually cooled to hot steaming rock. The pressurized steam cooled above the earth, shrouding it in darkness. This is in complete agreement with the Biblical account.
In Genesis, it then tells us God began to bring changes and create life on the earth in six stages or days. The Hebrew word for day is yom. It appears 1,480 times in the Old Testament and is translated 51 different ways into English, for example, ‘time’, ‘forever’ or ‘age’, as well as a 24 hour day.
Various verses from the Bible show some of the different meanings of yom. Here are a few examples:
Genesis chapter 2 verses 2-3 state that God rested on the seventh day (yom). The Bible teaches we are still living in the seventh ‘day’, so the word yom shows a long period of time.
In Genesis chapter 2 verse 4, it says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” In the original Hebrew it says, ‘in the yom they were created’. It is lumping the six ‘days’ into one period of time here. It appears to infer the six days were not 24 hours each
In Numbers chapter 20 verse15, ‘years’ is translated from yom.
From a Christian viewpoint it is therefore Biblically possible to interpret yom to be 24 hours or a much longer period of time in which God took to create everything. Both are acceptable.
In the second half of verse 5 in Genesis chapter 1 it says, “And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.” The Hebrew word erebh, translated evening, originally meant ‘to go in’ and was later used for ‘evening or dusk’. The word boker, translated here as ‘morning’ originally meant ‘a penetration or breaking up.’ Later it was used for ‘day break’.
These two events together do not necessarily mean 24 hours. It could also be interpreted to mean dispelling darkness by light or a period of inactivity followed by a period of activity.
Verses 3-5 in Genesis 1 tell us about light coming through to the earth which was spinning on its axis so day and night became a regular experience.
Science tells us the thick watery shroud had rained onto the earth as the earth cooled, but still clouds of steam and vapours hovered above it.
Again, science agrees with the Bible.
The creation story continues in verses 6-8 of Genesis 1, telling that God created the atmosphere. Science tells us that an atmosphere, laden with carbon dioxide, developed below the heavy cloud layer.
Soon the earth would be ready for life.
References: Genesis + Science = Creation by H. R. Jamieson, e-Sword Biblical Dictionary and Commentary, and the Christian website gotquestions.org