Thursday, May 20, 2010

Views of Genesis One

Misunderstandings and suspicion of the Christian view of creation are rampant in the secular world. Unbelievers look at young earth creationist beliefs and may reject the entirety of biblical claims. They feel biblical claims are not credible if they are anchored to young earth interpretaions of Scripture. Agnostics cannot consider theological claims of the Bible if they must accept a linguistic and historical interpretation which only permits belief in an earth and universe six to ten thousand years old.

The failure of young earth and old earth Christians to agree on time frames of earth history may not have such a profound impact. Both believe in salvation in Christ and the God who created all things. This disagreement may be termed an internecine squabble charcterized as sometimes serious, but not fatal. In contrast, unbelievers are often alienated by young earth beliefs perceived to have no scientific plausibility. Sometimes even church young people are driven away when exposed to the strong scientific evidence for the earth's great antiquity.

Disagreement over time frames deflects both secularists and church members from grasping the most important meaning of Genesis 1. Herein lies a great tragedy. Non-Christians are turned away from the broad claims of the Bible while Christians become entangled in distracting peripheral doctrinal discussions.

Rodney Whitefield has written an insightful analysis of the first chapter of Genesis entitled Genesis One and the Age of the Earth. He states "The message of Genesis One is primarily theological. It informs the descendants of Adam (mankind) about their origin and about their relationship to their Creator. The message is that God is the Creator of Adam (mankind) and that mankind has a responsibility toward God and is accountable to God. The modern attacks on Genesis One have, as their basis, a wish to discredit this theological message and to assert freedom from accountability."

Young earth proponents make claims about the age of the earth and the universe based upon the Genesis 1-2 account. Whitefield presents a convincing case that the language of these chapters does not specify (1) an age for the earth and the universe, (2) time frames for the acts of creation, (3) whether or not those creative times followed immediately after one another, or (4) whether the creative commands were fulfilled immediately. Sometimes the young earthers' insistence on a recent origin overwhelms the primary theological focus of the first few chapters of Genesis. The goal of our blog commentary on origins and on issues of science in general is to call attention to the work and purpose of God in creation, both past and present.