The Origin of the Universe: Created or Evolved?

The question of the origin of the universe is one that most of us will contemplate some time in life, for in it are contained the other big questions in life: Where did this world, solar system, galaxy and universe come from?  How did we all end up here on this planet called earth?  Once we understand our origins, we will also yearn to know who we are.  Do we have a purpose on this planet?  Or is our existence just random and without meaning and once we die, is that the end or is there life after death?  There are essentially two answers, generally speaking: one answer posits that we, all living beings and the entire universe, are the results of many fortuitous God created the universechance[i] occurrences.  Going back far enough, we arrive at a time or point or singularity, as it were, when all that is was contained in a dot[ii], no bigger than one on this page, which then exploded without any outside influence.  And from that explosion were formed stars, galaxies, planets, and even space itself.  Then life spontaneously generated and evolved over billions of years until finally you and I came along.[iii]

The Bible clearly states that God created all that is by design and intent and that the history of that creation can be found in the pages of His revelation to us, especially in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis.  Regrettably, many churches and pastors have completely abdicated their responsibility to teach the Bible accurately and have subscribed to the evolutionary view and have made the Bible read like a myth as evidenced in the Clergy Letter Project.

Michael Zimmerman, Founder of Clergy Letter Project

Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation […] Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.[iv]

This excerpt, from the Clergy Letter Project, encapsulates the sentiment of many people when it comes to the areas of the Bible that touch upon areas of science.  If natural (atheistic) science claims something, then the Bible must necessarily take a back seat to it.  The faulty reasoning of the above statement needs to be exposed for the lie that it is.  We see from internal evidence of the Bible itself, from external evidence – what others thought about it – and also from some evidence that contradicts the evolutionary paradigm, that the biblical creation account is accurate and true.  It is not just a beloved story that teaches us religious truth but is true in all that it says.

The question of our study is essentially: did God create in a literal six days (plus the day He rested) as a simple reading of Genesis would suggest, or did God in fact work through the process of evolution over a period of some fifteen billion years?  This split in understanding has unfortunately turned into a debate where there are very sincere people on both sides of the issue.  I have a friend who believes that God worked through the process of evolution and thus, rather than believing that each of the days described in Genesis refers to a literal day of 24-hours, or one revolution of the earth about its axis, he is convinced that those were long periods of time during which the slow process of evolution was being directed by God.  He and I both love God

Evolution weekend

and believe that the Bible is God’s revelation to mankind even though we diametrically disagree on this point.

The question of how long God took to create all that exists undoubtedly stands at the heart of the creationism debate and hence the issue at hand is whether the biblical creation took place over a period of approximately 15 billion years or just six days.  Since there are people who love God on both sides of this issue, we need not judge their devotion to God, but simply examine the Bible and supporting texts to come to the best possible understanding of just how long it took God to create all that is.  Of course the question arises: couldn’t God have created the universe by way of evolution?  Couldn’t He have used the slow physical changes as described in evolution to finally get to us and the world as we know it?  Obviously, the answer is yes!  God could have, but the ultimate question before us is this: did He?  Does the Bible, actually teach that He created over billions of years?  We seek no other matter: did God, as recorded in the Bible, create all that exists in six literal days thousands of years ago? Or did God create over six day-ages in which billions of years passed?

There is a plethora of excellent books and articles written on the subject of the science of the Bible’s creation account.  Many publications in the fields of physics, geology, biology, chemistry, mathematics and even law have superbly demonstrated that the Bible’s cosmology is not only plausible, but is even a better model of origins than evolution from a strictly scientific point of view.  My

The First Six Days

The First Six Days

goal is not to prove the Bible right and evolution wrong from a scientific point of view since I am not a scientist. I encourage the reader to examine the recommended resources and bibliography for a more thorough investigation of the scientific data.  I have focused my investigation primarily on examining supporting biblical texts to observe what the original languages and grammar yield as well as what ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters believed the Bible to say regarding how long those six days were.  The truth is that God created in six, literal days only several thousand years ago, and therefore we see three criteria fulfilled:

  1. According to the Bible, the creation days were normal and literal days
  2. The overwhelming majority of ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters believed the days were literal and hence thought that the earth was young
  3. Archaeological confirmation of biblical account

If we are going to claim that the Bible is, in fact, God’s revelation to mankind, then we must be open to letting it guide us to certain conclusions whether those agree with the evolutionary model or not.

 


[i] Dr. Stan Sholar notes, “there are some hybrid concepts of this dichotomy here where God created things as a big bang but it evolved within the 6 day framework and satisfied the literal words in the Bible more or less.  This sort of manipulation of time and physics is a necessary part of the current big bang hypothesis also as they have had to impose an expansionary period where things happened faster than the speed of light, leading either to breaking Einstein’s hypothesis, or else there was a growth of space which made the time seem to be superluminal when it actually was not.  There are always those who say that big bang supports Genesis as a creation from nothing, since even the original dot could have been created.” (Dr Sholar, personal communication, September 21, 2006)

[ii] Some would even suggest that the dot was in fact nothing – and that nothing exploded into something.

[iii] In the twentieth century, the first version of the ‘big bang’ as the explosion of a ‘primeval atom’ was put forward by Abbé Georges-Henri Lemaître in 1931. Lemaître postulated that the universe originated as a single particle of vast energy but with near-zero radius. (Grigg 1993)

[iv] The Clergy Letter Project 2004