Darkness to Light Home Page
Books and eBooks by the Director
Questions on Divine Creation
By Gary F. Zeolla
This four-part article will study the science of divine creation by answering a dozen questions that are commonly asked in this regard. These twelve questions will be ones which are directly related to a specific Scripture verse, passage, or chapters. They will only incidentally touch on scientific evidence for divine creation. That is because this writer is a Bible translator and theologian with only limited scientific background. I have a B.S. in Nutrition Science (Penn State; 1983).
Although, I will present what I have learned from watching two creation-based TV shows. The first is Origins, which airs here in the Pittsburgh, PA area on WPCB. The second is Creation in the 21st Century, which airs nationally on TBN. Both shows are highly recommended. The guests are always bona fide scientists with Masters or PhDs in relevant science fields.
The focus will be on Genesis chapters 1-11, as those are the most important chapters to consider in creation science. But reference will be made to many other passages of the Bible as well. This Part One answers questions 1 and 2.
1. Are the “days” of Genesis One literal, 24-hour days?
This is a common question, with good Christians on both sides of the debate. Following are the Scriptures verses and interpretations thereof that are used by each side to defend their position.
Those who would answer “Yes” to this question are Young Earth Creationists. They believe the earth and the universe are only about 6,000 years old. The two TV shows just mentioned ascribe to this view. Those who would answer “No” to this question are Old Earth Creationists. They believe the same as secular scientists that the earth is about 5 billion years old and the universe is about 13 billion years old.
There are several reasons the “days” of Genesis chapter one should be understood as literal, 24-hour days.
First, the recurring phrase “and there became evening and there became morning” clearly indicates literal 24-hour days is meant (Genesis 1:3,8,13,19,23,31). Also, the most natural way to take the word “day” is as a literal 24-hour day. If some other time length was meant by it, the text would have indicated it.
Second, any time “day” occurs with a number as it does throughout this chapter, it always refers to a 24-hour day (e.g., Genesis 27:54; 33:13; Numbers 11:19; 1Samuel 2:34; 14:1; 1Kings 20:29; 2Kings 4:8).
Third, God rested on the seventh day and blessed and sanctified it (Genesis 2:2b,3). The LORD then gives Creation Week as the reason our week is to consist of seven days, and His resting on the seventh day as the reason we should rest on the seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11). Since the days of our week are each 24-hours long, then for this command to make sense, the days of Creation Week also had to have been 24-hours long.
Fourth, when asked a question about divorce, Jesus responds by quoting from Geneses 1:27, “Did you* not read that the One having made [them] from [the] beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). Notice that Jesus links “The beginning” with the creation of Adam and Eve, indicating the creation of Adam and Eve occurred at about the same time as the beginning of creation. But if the universe was created billions of years before humanity, then Jesus was mistaken in this assumption.
Finally, the Bible indicates that after the Creation Week, all was “very good” (Gen 1:31). But then toil, shame, pain, suffering, and death entered the world as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, which is known as “the Fall” (Gen 1:17; 3:6-17; Romans 5:12-20). This corruption extended to all of creation (Romans 8:18-22). However, if the days of Genesis One represent long eons of time, there would have been pain, suffering, death, and a corrupted creation long before the Fall, making the Bible contradictory. It would also make a sham of the Gospel, as the death of Jesus was to pay for the sin of Adam and Eve and its effects. His death , reconciled us to God, defeated death, and opened the path for a new heavens and new earth, without sin, suffering, death, and corruption (Romans 5:9-11; 1Corinthians 15:50-55; Revelation 21:1-4).
There are several reasons the “days” of Genesis chapter one should not be understood as literal, 24-hour days, but instead as long eons of time.
First, the sun and moon were not created until Day Four (Gen 1:14-19). Since it is the rising and setting of the sun that determines the length of our days, there could not have been 24-hour days before this time. What caused the evening and morning before this was the “light” that was created on Day One, whatever that was.
Second, all of the events of Day Six could not have happened in 24 hours. We know from Genesis 2:8-25, that on this day, the LORD creates Adam and Garden of Eden. He places Adam in the Garden “to be working [or, cultivating] and to be keeping it” (v.15). Adam grows lonely, so the LORD creates the animals of the Garden to see if they will be suitable companions. He brings these animals to Adam and tells Adam to name all of them (vv.18-20). We do not know how many animals were created for the Garden, but it was probably substantial and would have taken quite a bit of time to accomplish this naming and to determine their unsuitability. Then the LORD creates the woman and brings her to Adam, and she is that suitable companion. Surely, all of this would have taken much longer than 24 hours, more like weeks or even months. As such, Day Six was much longer than 24 hours, as were the rest of the “days” of Genesis One.
Finally, Moses declares about God, “For a thousand years in Your eyes [are] as the day” (Psalm 90:4). Peter repeaters this idea by saying, “one day with [the] Lord [is] as a thousand years” (2Peter 3:8). The point of these statements is that God does not measure time as we do, since He is timeless. As such, God could call these time periods “days” even though they were much longer than 24 hours.
This Writer’s Position:
I want to make it clear, both a Young Earth Creationist position and an Old Earth Creationist position are compatible with a belief in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. However, the former does seem to be the most natural way of reading the text. It is for that reason that I follow that view in my books Creationist Diet and Creationist Diet: Second Edition and in my two-volume set God’s Sex Plan.
However, that does not mean that if I were to be convinced that the Young Earth Creationists view was incorrect, I would have to trash those books. Far from it. At best, I might need to rewrite the opening part of the first chapters of each book, and that would be it. The reason for that is those books base their teachings about diet and sex, respectively, on all that the Scriptures teach, with those teachings backed by scientific research.
The point is, my beliefs on those subjects would not change, and neither would any of my other Christian beliefs. I most definitely would not lose my faith in the integrity of the Bible nor in the overall Christian worldview. I would just need to change how I articulate a few specific points on a few doctrines, such as the origin of original sin.
I assert this, as the way some Young Earth Creationists articulate their ideas, they condemn those who do not believe in a young earth, no matter how Christian their views might be otherwise. And some Old Earth Creationists look down on Young Earth Creationists as being “out of touch” or as putting an unnecessary burden on the Christian faith. Neither attitude is proper, as there is both Biblical and scientific evidence that could be taken to support either view.
2. Should Genesis 1-11 be taken as history or allegory?
The way to answer this question is to consider how the Biblical writers took the early chapters of Genesis. It will also be helpful to overview how others throughout Biblical and Church history have taken these chapters.
The Old Testament:
The compiler of the Book of Genesis clearly intended for both parts of Genesis (Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50) to be taken as literal history. Genesis 11 flows into Genesis 12 without missing a beat. In fact, the central figure of the middle chapters of Genesis, that of Abraham, is introduced in Genesis 11:27-32.
Moreover, both parts are written in the same fashion, with no indication the first eleven chapters are to be taken any differently from chapters 12-50. In fact, it is disingenuous to the text to even speak of two parts. Such is only done for convenience’s sake in commenting on the text.
In addition, later Old Testament (OT) writers, in referring to persons or events from these early chapters, take them as literal history, just as they do the rest of Scripture.
This is seen in 1Chronicles, which begins with extensive genealogical lists, starting with Adam, then his son Seth, then his sons, all the way down to Abraham. Then, just as with Genesis, without missing a beat, the text goes into Abraham’s descendants, with no hint of any difference between those who preceded Abraham and those who follow him (1Chr 1:1-27).
The prophet Hosea refers to Adam as transgressing his covenant with the LORD as the same as those who are doing the same in his day (Hosea 6:7). In Isaiah 54:9, the LORD refers to the covenant He made with Noah after the cataclysmic flood, recorded in Genesis 9:11. Ezekiel 14:14 refers to Noah, Daniel, and Job in a way that indicates all three are historical figures.
Psalm 29:10 says, “The LORD will settle [Heb., sits upon] the cataclysmic flood, and the LORD lets down [the] king [Heb., the LORD sits [as] King] into the age [fig., forever].” The term “cataclysmic flood” here is clearly a reference to the flood of Noah, as the Hebrew word (mabbul) is only used here and in Genesis 6-11. The same goes for the Greek word (cataclysmos) the Septuagint translators used to translate the Hebrew word. But the point is, the Psalmist equates God sitting upon the cataclysmic flood with Him reigning forever.
The Septuagint also uses cataclysmos in Psalm 32:6. But it is unclear if the flood of Noah is indicated in that verse or not. Of course, cataclysmos is where our word “cataclysm” comes from. It is just that the flood of Noah was the ultimate cataclysm, so the Septuagint translators used that word for it.
Note: The Septuagint is the third century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew OT. It is the basis for my Analytical-Literal Translation of the OT quoted above. The Septuagint is noteworthy, as it was the translation of the early Church. That can be seen in that most quotations of the OT in the New Testament are from the Septuagint, not the Hebrew text. That phenomena is demonstrated in Scripture Study #2, “The Use of the OT in the NT,” in my Scripture Workbook: Volume Two.
The Intertestamental Period:
The same pattern of taking the early chapters of Genesis literally is seen in of the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical books, written during the intertestamental period, meaning these books were mostly written during the time period between the last book of the OT (the Book of Malachi, written c. 400 BC), and the opening scene of the NT (the conception of John the Baptist, which occurred in c. 5 BC).
These books refer to Adam as a historical figure (Tobit 8:6; Sirach 40:1; 49:16; 4 Esdras 3:5,10;21,26; 6:54-56; 7:11; 70,116-118). 4Maccabees refers to the Cain and Abel narrative in the same context as other OT historical events (18:11). Sirach also refers to Enoch, Shem, Seth, Enosh, and Noah in the context of other OT historical figures (Sirach 44:16f; 49:16). 4Esdras refers to the flood of Noah, taking it as historical (3:11). Tobit refers to Noah in the same context as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Tobit, while praying about his to be wife, says:
6“You made Adam and gave to him a helper, Eve, a support, his wife. From these became the seed of people [fig., the human race]. You said, ‘It is not good [for] the man to be alone. Let Us make for him a helper like to him.’ [Gen 2:18] 7And now, O Lord, I do not take this my sister through fornication, but upon truth [fig., with a right motive]. Command to have mercy on me and [for] this [woman] to grow old together with [me].” 8And she said with him, “So be it [Gr. amen]!” (8:6-8).
In this prayer, Tobit and his wife-to-be are clearly taking the giving of Eve to Adam as a historical event, while quoting Genesis 2:18.
The New Testament:
The New Testament (NT) also takes Genesis 1-11 literally, just it does the rest of the OT. This is seen first in Jesus. He quotes from Genesis chapters one and two, as if they are literal (Matthew 19:5-7; Mark 10:6-9). He refers to the Flood of Noah, as if it happened just as described in Genesis, using the same Greek word (cataclysmos) as used in Genesis 1-11 (Matthew 24:37f; Luke 17:26f). Jesus even refers to “the blood of Abel,” a clear reference to Genesis 4:10 (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51).
Luke, in his genealogy, recorded in the third chapter of his Gospel, records the biological heritage of Jesus through His mother Mary, back through the intertestamental period, then through men not mentioned in the OT, until he gets to Nathan then David (v.31). From there, he lists Jesse, Obeb, and Boaz, all mentioned in the Book of Ruth. Then after a few more unknown names, he lists Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, then back through Jacob, and Abraham, through several men mentioned in the genealogies of Genesis 11 and 5, all the way back to Adam. Just as with the Chronicler, Luke is taking the men mentioned in those early genealogies as just as historical as the rest of the names he mentions.
Paul quotes the same verses from Genesis 1 and 2 that Jesus does (1Corinthians 6:16), and he refers to Adam and Eve several times as historical figures (Acts 17:26; Romans 5:14; 1Corinthians 15:22;45; 2Corinthians 11:3; 1Timothy 2:13f). Most notable is his statement during his sermon in Athens, “And He made from one blood every nation of human beings to be living on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). With this statement, he is clearly taking the description of human origins in Genesis literally.
The Writer to the Hebrews refers to Abel, Enoch, and Noah in the eleventh chapter of his letter, taking them as just as historical as the rest of the OT persons he mentions in the rest of that chapter (11:4,5,7). He also refers to the “blood of Abel” in 12:24, comparing Abel’s blood to that of Jesus. Since Jesus literally had His blood shed, then so did Abel.
Peter refers to Noah and his family being saved in the ark in his first epistle (1Pet 3:20). Then in his second epistle, he says God “kept Noah, [the] eighth [person] [fig., with seven others], a preacher of righteousness, having brought a cataclysmic flood upon the world of ungodly [people],” using the same Greek word as in Genesis 1-11 (2Peter 2:5). Then in the same context, he mentions the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (2Peter 2:6-8). The cataclysmic flood is recorded in Genesis 6-9 and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, so Peter is taking the first part of Genesis as just as historical as the second part. He also compares the judgment of the earth by water in Noah’s flood to the coming judgment of the earth by fire at the end of time (2Peter 3:5-7).
Jude refers to Adam as historical (Jude 1:14), while mentioning “the way of Cain” as being a bad thing (Jude 1:11). John refers to Cain murdering his brother in his first epistle, clearly taking that narrative from Genesis 4 as historical (1John 3:12).
The Apostolic Fathers:
Moving past the NT, we come to the Apostolic Fathers. These are the Church leaders immediately after the Apostles, many of whom were direct disciples of the Apostles. Their books were written in the late first to mid-second centuries AD. These Apostolic Fathers refer often to the early chapters of Genesis, taking them as literal history, just as they do the rest of Scripture.
Clement refers to Adam three times in his first epistle, clearly considering him to be a historical figure (1Clement 6:3; 29:2; 50:3). Barnabas in his epistle says, “For humanity is suffering earth, for the formation of Adam became from [the] face of the earth” (Bar 6:9). In this statement, he is clearly taking Genesis 2:7 literally.
Clement records the narrative of Cain killing Abel in his epistle in 4:1-6; then in verse 7 he writes, “You* see, brothers [and sisters], jealousy and envy brought about a murder of a brother.” Then in verses 8-9, he compares Cain’s jealousy against Abel to the jealously of Esau against Jacob and the brothers of Joseph against Joseph. Those incidents are recorded in the second part of Genesis, so Clement considers the first part just as historical as the second part.
Clement then refers to Noah’s preaching of repentance in 7:6. He compares that to Jonah preaching to the Ninevites and to the preachers of his day (1Clement 7:6-8). He also refers to the faithfulness of Noah, comparing that to the faithfulness of Abraham (9:4f).
Barnabas refers to “the transgression became by Eve by means of the serpent” (12:5), a clear reference to the events of Genesis three. In the same paragraph, he refers to Moses and Jesus, with all three being taken as historical figures.
Summary and Disclaimer:
In sum, this overview of the OT, the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical books, the NT, and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers shows that all of writers of these books considered the early chapters of Genesis to be literal history, just they did the rest of Genesis and the rest of the Bible.
The only exception is the Epistle of Barnabas. It generally allegorizes the OT to a great and sometimes absurd degree, especially in its commentary on clean versus unclean meats. I discuss these points in my books Creationist Diet: Second Edition and Why Are These Books in the Bible and Not Others? Volume Three. But interestingly, Barnabas is generally literal in his comments on the early chapters of Genesis.
By way of disclaimer, I do not consider the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical books nor the writings of the Apostolic Fathers to be inspired nor to be a part of Scripture. But they are being quoted here as giving us a window into the thinking of the Jews during the intertestamental period and of the Church immediately after the time of the Apostles, respectively. It is for that reason that I translated all of these books and why they are included as Volume Five and Volume Seven, respectively, of my Analytical-Literal Translation. I explain the issues regarding these books and their lack of canonicity in Volume One and Volume Three, respectively, of my Why These Books? set.
That said; they are being referenced here to show that from the time Genesis was compiled, down through all of OT history, through the intertestamental period, through the time of the NT, up to the mid-second century AD, the unbroken tradition of both Jews and Christians was to take the early chapters of Genesis as literal history, just as they took the rest of the Bible.
Later Church History:
Now, it is true that starting with the Church Father Origen (185-254 AD), that some Church Fathers allegorized Genesis 1-11, but that is only because they allegorized the rest of the OT and even much of the NT. That practice then became commonplace throughout the Middle Ages.
The reason for this allegorizing of the Bible was three-fold. First, Origen and others of his time and after him had an ascetic attitude. That means, they deprecated the body, decrying all physical pleasures, including sex within marriage. Origen went so far as to castrate himself, so as to remove any sexual temptation.
This anti-sex attitude led him and others after him to allegorize away passages in the OT that uphold martial sex as a gift from God. That would include allegorizing the early chapters of Genesis and its clear teaching that “It is not good for man to be alone” (2:18). It also included allegorizing the Song of Solomon. That book, taken literally, is clearly an ode to martial, sexual love. To evade that, they allegorized it away as being about God’s love for the Church.
The second reason was to allegorize away portions of the OT that they found troubling. Augustine (354-430 AD), for instance, was troubled by the wars of the Book of Joshua. As a result, he considered those wars to be allegories about the soul’s struggle against the physical temptations of the body.
This allegorizing attitude towards the Scriptures continued throughout the Middle Ages. At that time, Catholic writers and theologians added a third reason to allegorize the text—they used allegory in order to read Catholic dogmas into the Bible that had no basis in the literal text of Scripture. Most especially Mary, the mother of Jesus (who was now called the “Mother of God”), was exalted in ways that went far beyond NT parameters. To justify this, they allegorized the Song of Solomon as being an ode about God’s (or Jesus’) love for Mary.
The point is, if someone tells you that many in Church history have taken Genesis 1-11 allegorically, that is technically true, but only because they allegorized the rest of the Scriptures as well.
However, the Protestant Reformers of the 1500s recognized this allegorizing as being unfaithful to the true meaning and original intent of the Biblical writers. As such, they returned the Church to interpreting all Scripture, the early chapters of Genesis included, in a literal fashion. This can be seen, for instance, in John Calvin’s Commentaries. He takes Genesis 1-11 as literal history, just as he does the rest of the Book of Genesis and the rest of the Bible.
It was not until the late 1800s that Christian writers and theologians again began to allegorize the early chapters of Genesis. This was done in order to bring them in line with the new ideas from science about human origins and the origin and age of the universe. But they tried to continue to hold to a literal interpretation of the rest of Genesis and the rest of the Bible.
However, those efforts proved futile, as many realized that if those early chapters are not actual history, then the rest of the Bible must not be actual history either, as again, those early chapters of Genesis are written in the same fashion as the rest of the Bible, and much of the rest of the Bible takes them as being history. As a result, this allegorizing of Genesis 1-11 opened the door to the complete disrespect for the Bible that we see today.
All Scripture quotations are from: Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible (ALT). Copyright © 1999-2022 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org). But note, the rendering of “cataclysmic flood” for cataclysmos is not yet used in any published editions of the ALT. That is a change I made to my texts, to distinguish the flood of Noah from other floods mentioned in the Bible, such as in Revelation 12:15-16. The Greek word there is potamos and is better rendered “river” as it is in the ALT. It is in fact where the Potomac River gets its name, as does the hippopotamus (“river horse”). These changes are in preparation for a possible new edition of the ALT. But I have no idea at this writing if or when such a new edition will be published. Therefore, do not let the possibility of a new edition keep you from getting the current volumes, as it will be many years, if ever, before new editions of all seven volumes are published. And any changes will be minor, such as seen here.
Part Two of this four-part article will be posted after it appears in the next Issue of Darkness to Light Christian Newsletter.
Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light
Questions on Divine Creation: Part One. Copyright © 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian).
The above article originally appeared in Darkness to Light
It was posted on this website in January 1, 2022.
Science and Science Fiction
Text Search Alphabetical List of
Pages Subject Index
General Information on Articles Contact Information
to Light Home Page
Click Here for Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla