[ Doctrine in Detail ]

Topic: VI. Man

Lesson: A. Creation

Objective: To understand God's creation of man.

In this chapter we will look at the creation of man, theories about the age of the earth, and the approximate age of mankind. The next chapter will deal with the difference between how man was originally created and the changes which resulted from Adam falling in to sin.

1. Creation of Man

Article of Faith. "God, by a special, instantaneous act, created man in His image -- holy, righteous, and possessing true knowledge -- by forming him out of the dust of the earth and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. Thus man became a living soul." (Bible Fellowship Church Article of Faith 8-1) This article of faith, representative of many Bible believing churchs, clearly states that God made man instantly and gave him life. This leaves no allowance for the theory of evolution with the portrayal of man being a descendant of animals, having developed over hundreds of thousands of years. We will examine this.

Genesis 1:26-28."Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"

A few observations are in order. God is the plural, 'elohim' in Hebrew, and He says 'Let us'. Some call this the plural of majesty - for instance, if Queen Elizabeth is happy about something, she might say, "We are pleased." The plural allows us to read into this God as the Trinity, but this verse alone does not require it. Human gender was important to God, not mentioned of the animals here, and both man and woman are in the image of God. Whatever that image is, women are also created in that image. Finally, mankind was given dominion and rule over the other creatures - perhaps we should all be concerned about wildlife and ecology, since we are the caretakers of the animal kingdom. This is not to say that we must treat animals as equals, no, only humans are in the image of God. But we should take care of the creation we are given to rule.

Genesis 2:7."... The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." This verse gives a pretty graphic picture of God creating man out of non-living dirt, and giving him life (not just a soul). This verse cannot be reconciled with theories of man evolving from lower animals.

Genesis 2:21-23."So the man gave names ot all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man."

Of some interest in reading Genesis is the appearance of two narratives describing the creation of man. This is best explained by stating that the first record of creation, Genesis 1:1 through 2:3, gives the context of the creation of all things and concludes with the Sabbath. In verse 2:4, the story backs up and gives further detail to the creation of man and Genesis 2:4 through Revelation is a somewhat continuous story of the results of creation and the aftermath for mankind. The two accounts never contradict each other, but do have different points of view. The first is in the general context of creation, the second is in the specific context of the results of creation for mankind. We also see that gender is important, and no animals were suitable helpers for Adam.

Modern Roman Catholic View. "The teaching of the Church leaves the doctrine of evolution an open question, as long as it confines its speculations to the development, from other living matter already in existence, of the human body." (Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis 1950) Unfortunately, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church has taken the position that the theory of evolution does not contradict the faith. Apparently, Pope Pius XII took the immediate creation of Adam from the dust of the earth as a figurative statement. This position is often called theistic evolution, and maintains that God somehow guided evolution, and the main point is that God did something special to give man a soul. We adamantly disagree with the RC Church on this issue.

Conclusions on creation.

2. Age of the Earth

I suppose that ninety percent of Christians feel strongly about either a young earth with the six days of creation being literal 24 hour days, or an older earth explained by either days being longer periods of time, having gaps, or perhaps having a gap between verse 1 and the first day. The real question is to what degree you trust the various branches of science such as biology, astronomy, geology, and radio-carbon dating methods and how you combine this faith with belief in the Biblical accounts. If you trust the modern evidence then you take a more difficult (but I believe allowable) reading of the creation story. But if you only trust the Bible, the 24 hour day is the simplest explanation. Of course, non-believers simply do not accept the Bible at all, and simply accept the modern evidence without considering the issue.

This becomes an emotional issue, because many who believe in the 24 hour days think that the 'period' people are evolutionists. While evolutionists also believe in an old earth, not everyone who holds to the old earth accepts the theory of evolution. And a number of people simply say, 'I don't know'. Still, some say the old earth people explain away the Scripture. Conversely, the old earth people think that the 24 hour day people have no appreciation for a massive amount of evidence from science.

Arguments for 24-hour days.Here are the arguments for a young earth with 24 hour days of creation, with their rebuttals, followed by a summary chart.

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24-Hour Days Argument

Periods of Time Rebuttal

1.

Natural Reading

Allowable interpretation

2.

Ten Commandment Days are 24 hours

Periods/Days understood. Exodus 20:12 has 7 year cycle

3.

Evening and Morning

End/Beginning, no sun until day 4

4.

Plants before day 4

Diffuse light from obscured sun

5.

No death before sin

Plants died before sin. No human death before sin.

6.

Creative word is immediate

2 Peter 3:8 Why woudl God hurry?

Arguments for periods of time.Here are the arguments for the days being longer periods of time, or long days, with the rebuttals followed by a summary chart.

1.

'Yom' often a longer period of time

Genesis 1-2 does not require that 'Yom' be interpreted as longer than 24 hours

2.

Periods of time allow for events and naming of animals

Not necessary, Adam may have only named 'kinds' of animals

3.

Fossils, dating of rocks, trees, coral reefs indicate old earth

They were created mature, wit appearance of age, or 'science' is in error

4.

Geological record, geological shift, and fossil record indicate old earth

Effects of sin and the worldwide flood accomplished these things in a short period of time

5.

Astronomy, distances from stars and time for light to reach earth

God may have created light 'beams' in place

6.

God does not deceive or make earth appear old if it is not

Perhaps our scientific understanding and dating of objects is mistaken

Conclusions on the age of the earth. The age of the earth question is largely the question of how long the days of creation were, or how long between the beginning of creation and the creation of man. "The triune God, according to His sovereign will, created out of nothing and out of things that he had made, by immediate and mediate action, the worlds and all that is in them. He is the Govenor and Upholder of the creation by His wisdom and by the word of His mighty power." (Bible Fellowship Church Article 6-1) The particular church I attend does not take either stand on this issue, although the pastor does hold one view. I believe we can easily read this Article on the creation from either viewpoint.

"There are difficulties with both old earth and young earth viewpoints, difficulties that the proponents of each view often seem unable to see in their own positions." (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.308) Some students in my class were persuaded that the young earth (24 hour days) made great sense, and the pros and cons gave them more confidence. Others are troubled by 'science', and it does not all seem as far fetched as evolution which even many scientists do not believe. A great number of Christian scientists hold to an old earth position, and for those, these pros and cons help them to take a stronger stand for their position.

I suggest that we need to know what we believe, even if that belief is that we do not know how long the days were. But be prepared to explain this from your point of view to your children, either when they go to a public school or if home schooled, if they go to college. I also suggest that we understand why Bible believers are split on this issue, and treat it as of less importance than doctrines such as the virgin birth of Christ, His death on the cross for our sins, and his future return to the earth as king.

3. Age of Mankind

The age of man is somewhat simpler. Bishop Usher, in the 1500s, added up the geneologies in the Bible and came to a date of 4004 BC for the creation of the earth and the creation of Adam. He assumed 24 hour days of creation. But there are demonstrated gaps in the geneologies, where one list will leave out names filled in elsewhere. By assuming gaps, we can easily stretch the dates back as far as 10 or 11 thousand BC. It would be more difficult to use this reasoning to add hundreds of thousands of years, and there is no strong reason to do so.

There is no compelling evidence from history or science to date the appearance of man before ten thousand BC, even if one hold to an old earth which existed long before that. Evolution is not an acceptable idea, even many non-Christian scientists do not accept that theory. So, the issue of old earth or new earth does not have to affect our dates for the creation of Adam. It simply is an issue of how old the earth itself is, and how creation occurred.


Written Assignment:

1. What is your position on creation days?

2. What is your opinion of the age of mankind?

Reading Assignment:

Ryrie: Chapters 29-32


Key Verses:

"... the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."(Genesis 2:7)

Additional References:

"There are difficulties with both old earth and young earth viewpoints, difficulties that the proponents of each view often seem unable ot see in their own positions." (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology)


All Bible quotations are from the New International Version (NIV), (C)Copyright 1984 by the International Bible Society, used by permission.
Doctrine in Detail (C)Copyright 2002 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved

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