Chapter 2

What Does It Mean To Say, “The Genesis Account Is True”?

The disagreement about how to explain the appearance of the great age of the earth is not the most significant issue. What’s most important is what we can all hold to be true and essential in the Genesis account of creation. It’s far more imperative for followers of Christ to agree that along with the evidence from nature . . .

1. Genesis Affirms the Existence of God. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that the cosmos owes its material existence to an eternal, nonmaterial, personal Spirit. The first words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (genesis 1:1).

This affirmation, however, is opposed to the worldview of naturalism that dominates in modern scientific institutions. Philosophical naturalism, which appears to be the presupposition of many scientists, does not acknowledge God or a supernatural origin for the creation. It takes for granted that the material world is all that exists. This view was summed up by modern scientist Carl Sagan in his popular Cosmos series: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

2. Genesis Affirms the Power of God. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that by the power of His eternal word and wisdom, God spoke the material world into existence. By the word of His mouth, God brought something out of nothing, order out of formlessness, and light out of darkness.

The rest of the Bible repeats this creation theme. The songbook of Israel declares, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. . . . He spoke, and it was done” (Psalm 33:6,9). This affirmation contrasts with the naturalistic worldview that the universe and all it contains, being natural and material, could not have a supernatural and spiritual origin.

3. Genesis Affirms the Personhood of God. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that the cosmos has its source in a living deity, a divine Person who is good, loving, and merciful, and that the original creation provided evidence of those personal characteristics. The beauty and utility of the natural world have their origin in their Creator’s capacity for intelligent and loving intention. The original living things on the earth were good, in part, because they reflected the knowledge, wisdom, and infinite genius of our Creator. God’s character is the source of all that is beneficial and beautiful.

The Creator’s personal involvement with His creation is captured in Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” David declared, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (psalm 145:8–9 emphasis added).

This belief in an infinite, personal Creator contrasts with the naturalistic worldview that doesn’t recognize a creator but claims that what we call personhood is the product of purposeless evolution. According to naturalism, no mind had a function in the creation of the material world. Personal attributes like goodness, love, and willfulness had no role in the origin and development of all things, nor is a personal God involved in creation’s maintenance and continuance.

4. Genesis Affirms the Purposefulness of God. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that the order of our material world has its source in the purpose and plan of an all-wise and all-powerful Creator. By the design and loving intent of God, the astronomical features of the universe, as well as the oceans, land, and atmosphere of the earth were formed. The Creator progressively invested His genius in the formation of the elements, plants, and animals of the natural world and established their interdependencies. By His willful and purposeful plan, God created all life-forms and enabled each of them to reproduce “according to its kind” (genesis 1:24).

The book of God’s special revelation explains what we see around us: Nature’s mathematical precision and operation is the result of God’s purposeful and intelligent design. “He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion” (Jeremiah 10:12). It was this great awareness that inspired the songwriter of Israel to declare, “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions” (psalm 104:24).

5. Genesis Affirms the Sustaining Providence of God. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying that the triune God constantly oversees and sustains the creation and continues to grant life to all living things.

After singing to the One who laid the foundations of the earth, the psalmist celebrated the sustaining work of the Creator when he wrote:

He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches. He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth . . . . These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. . . . You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth (psalm 104:10–14,27,29–30).

This belief in a creating God who also sustains His creation by the word of His mouth conflicts with the naturalistic worldview that fundamental natural laws and mathematical principles of unknown origin sustain and maintain the integrity of the universe—no deity is required for either energy or matter to exist is a fundamental presupposition of philosophical naturalism.

6. Genesis Affirms That God Made Humanity in His Likeness. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that the personhood of man and woman has its origin in a personal Creator who made us in His own image. To crown His creation, God took the nonliving matter of the earth to create a living being. Then, to provide man with a companion and complement that would assure the perpetuation of the race, He took living tissue from the man to create a woman. The Bible calls this original human pair Adam and Eve.

The book of God’s special revelation says, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (genesis 1:27); “and the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7); “then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman” (2:22).

This belief that of all God’s creatures only man and woman were made in God’s likeness contrasts with the naturalistic worldview, which emphasizes that mankind is merely the product of unguided evolution, and that humanity has no special nature related directly to the personhood or loving intention of a supernatural Creator. In the view of naturalism, people are merely the most evolved of animals and have no special relationship to a personal God.

7. Genesis Affirms that We were Made for Relationships. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that the relationships we enjoy with all creation have their origin in a God who is eternally relational (the Trinity). The result of God’s purposeful creation was a series of relationships that explain much about the meaning of life.

Not only did God create people, He entered into a personal relationship with them. In the beginning, He was in fellowship with Adam and Eve and walked with them in the Garden of Eden (3:8).

The relationship of God to the earth was ownership. The people of Israel declared their acceptance of this claim when they sang, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (psalm 24:1).

The relationship of mankind to the earth was stewardship. From the first days of man’s life on earth, he understood that his responsibility was to care for the earth that his Maker entrusted to him: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (genesis 2:15).

This belief that we were made for relationships that have their origin in our triune Creator conflicts with the naturalistic worldview that does not acknowledge God. Naturalism denies the existence of any interpersonal or authoritative relationships or responsibilities aside from those necessitated by evolution.

8. Genesis Affirms that Disorder is the Result of a Rebellion. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that there was an original rebellion in the unseen spirit world. This revolt was carried over into the material world by a sinful spirit who persuaded the first man and woman to disregard their Creator’s terms for the perpetuation of human life in harmony with His purposes. This disobedience resulted in the spiritual and eventual physical death of Adam and Eve. It also had a negative effect on the rest of the creation.

To remind the human family of its fallen condition, God added consequences to the human rebellion. Other judgments followed, many of which changed the nature of life on earth and distorted the original relationships. According to Genesis, many of the problems that burden the natural world have their origin in God’s decision to add struggle and pain to the life of His creatures as a sort of severe mercy. These judgments, which confirmed that we could find fulfillment only in proper relationship to God, can be seen in the biblical descriptions of what happened in the fall (genesis 3:1–7), the curse (3:16–19), the flood (6–9), and the tower of Babel (11:1–9).

The belief that much of our suffering and hardship is the result of human rebellion and our Creator’s loving discipline conflicts with the naturalistic worldview, which holds that until the advent of modern man all changes on the earth were unrelated to purposeful and intelligent activity—unless from some extraterrestrial natural intelligence other than God.

9. Genesis Affirms God’s Desire to Rescue what has been Lost. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe that after the spiritual fall of our first parents, the experience of human sin and death created problems that people could not solve on their own (genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8).

Throughout the rest of the Bible, we read the record of our Creator’s loving pursuit of a lost and fallen humanity. This redemption theme runs throughout the Old and New Testaments and is fulfilled in the most inexpressible and miraculous act of intervention. The New Testament summarizes this redemptive rescue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. . . . He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (john 1:1–3,10–14).

This belief that God personally appeared on earth and intervened to rescue us from sin and death is in contrast to the naturalistic worldview that all people, like all animals, will eventually die, decompose, and be gone forever—that nothing within the human being survives death except our chemical components, which will be recycled naturally to perpetuate life and its evolution.

10. Genesis Affirms God’s Ability to Restore what has been Lost. When we declare that the Genesis account of creation is true, we’re saying we believe in a God who is powerful and merciful enough to bring about the eventual restoration, renewal, and reunification of the entire creation. Even though the Genesis creation account gives us only a fleeting foreshadow of God’s redemptive purposes, this prefiguration is the beginning of a great story that ends with the abode of God the Father and reign of God the Son on the earth as it is pictured in the final two chapters of the book of Revelation. The rest of the story assures us that the paradise lost by Adam and Eve will be regained.

The apostle Peter proclaimed:

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (acts 3:19–21; see also isaiah 11:6–9, romans 8:19–23, and ephesians 1:10).

The belief that God will eventually restore all that has been lost is in contrast to the naturalistic worldview that recognizes no God and no Savior for threatened humanity. Naturalism asserts that there is no future hope for the individual person, just a general hope for a humanity that will survive only by doing what it can to assure the “progress” of evolution.