All Christians are creationists meaning that they believe God created the universe (Hebrews 11:3). However, some believers have differing views of the creation account. Many believe the record in Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth about 6300 to 7500 years ago. Others believe in God created the universe and perceive that the heavens and earth are billions of years old. How can Christians rely on the Creation account in Genesis 1?
Beliefs from Creation
The whole Bible relies on the Genesis account for core teachings and values of the Christian faith. The creation in Genesis teaches an absolute standard for human value as God made humanity in His likeness — His image (Genesis 1:26–27). Genesis establishes the origin for sin, the fall of man, death, suffering, and the need for a savior to reconcile the world to God (Genesis 3; cf. Rom 5; 1 Cor 15:21–22). Biblical creation records an objective standard for knowledge of good and evil as humanity has an innate recognition of universal moral values (Genesis 2:16–17; cf. Rom 2:14–15). Furthermore, the Genesis account established marriage as God created man and woman for each other (Genesis 2:24; cf. Matt 19:5–6; Eph 5:31). Many believers do not accept Genesis as completely literal, yet they do accept these core beliefs based on Genesis.
Applied science without a standard to value human life has historically been dismissive if not harmful and destructive of human life. Furthermore, science without God cannot distinguish the value of human life apart from animal life. Atheistic moral values attribute morality coming from self, society, or survival instinct. Such standards are not necessarily respective and valuing of other ethnicities. However, God as the Creator of all who made humanity in His likeness is essential to objective moral values.
Difficulties in Harmonizing the Bible and Secular Science
From a nonliteral understanding of Genesis 1–3, many believers think that God created the universe from a singularity 13.8 billion years ago and then the Earth formed about 9 billion years later. This view appears to conflict with Genesis 1:1 that declares, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (ESV). The Bible does not say that God created the heavens in the beginning and billions of years later God formed the Earth through the expansion of matter and energy throughout the universe.
Reconciling secular theories of science with biblical accounts of science have many difficulties. Many Bible believers accept conclusions that initially exclude God, and then they blend such secular beliefs with the Christian faith. This approach to Scripture should concern Christians. Secular scientists start from assumptions without consideration of God as the first cause. Such atheistic presuppositions dismiss the basis of science which is causality. The lack of recognizing God also dismisses meaning and purpose for the universe and for life. Without recognizing God, mere necessity or chance cannot explain why the laws of the universe are finely balanced and constant. Dismissing design infers that the first cause is either nothing or a mindless metaphysical generator. One should think deeply about why some assume a mindless generator rather than an intelligent Creator as the catalog of the universe. What effect does this have on understanding true science?
The Bible and Science Agree
Christians do not need to harmonize secular theories with the Bible. Despite atheistic paradigms, science cannot account for the cause of the universe, the fine-tuning of the laws of the universe, the origin of life, origin of families of animal life, and existence of intelligent life. However, the Creation and the Flood in Genesis do account for the state of the universe and the earth. Biblical creation explains the first cause and thus numerous events necessary for the habitability of life in the universe. The Creator accounts for intelligent life being able to observe an intelligible universe.
Genesis records God creating mature forms of life to live on earth in days. According to Genesis 1, God created fully functioning life on specific days and set the natural laws for continued existence at completion of the days. One does not need to assume millions and billions of years when God evidently created a mature habitable planet for life to exist. God could do this because He did not set the natural laws until after creating all things developed and mature. In Genesis 1, God created an adult man and woman fully formed in a day. God developed mature fruit-bearing trees through accelerated processes in a day, and so set the natural laws for the life and reproduction from that day forward. God creating fully functioning life explains the existence of a sufficient and mature earth within a life-permitting universe that does not necessitate vast ages. Atheistic thinking excludes God as the first cause and assumes long periods of time that skews the perception of God as necessary to recognize the scientific facts of Creation.
God’s creation of a mature heavens and earth explains any perception of long ages for the universe and the earth. Just as God created mature life, the Creator created a mature earth and maturation of its rocks through rapid formative processes accounting for radioactive decay in a day of creation. God created earth with the right balance and maturation of rock for life to exist rather than life happening to emerge after billions of years of decay. Furthermore, atheistic paradigms dismiss the first cause of the universe and so assume that stars just happen to form and develop just right to support life. Secular theories propose the accidental and coincidental formation of the Earth precisely balanced at just the right time for life to exist. These must happen by chance when one dismisses that the first cause of the universe is the intelligent Creator.
Parallel to origins of the universe and life, secular theories assert an explanation of geologic strata forming over millions of years. However, a worldwide flood has greater explanative power for billions of dead organisms buried in layers of rock laid down by water all over the Earth. Believers do not need to accept millions of years to explain scientifically geologic strata. Biblical Creation and the Flood has no conflict with science, but atheistic assumptions about the earth do.
The First Cause of the Universe and Miracles
Whatever is beyond nature of the universe is supernatural by definition, and so the cause of the universe is necessarily metaphysical. The cause of the universe must exist beyond all nature of the universe and its physical laws, and a supernatural cause must act supernaturally outside of nature and its laws. The beginning of the universe requires a supernatural cause. The first cause of the universe must be immensely more powerful than the universe, existed beyond the universe, set orderly physical laws, and created an intelligible universe allowing intelligent to observe it. God is the best explanation for the supernatural cause of the universe, and thus God’s existence necessitates supernatural actions — miracles.
Because God exists, miracles exist. One cannot believe in God and not the first miracle of Creation when God created the heavens and the earth. Without faith in the biblical account of God’s great miracle of creation, that person would undermine belief in other biblical miracles including the works of Jesus and especially His resurrection. The apostle Paul explained that any faith in Christ without Jesus’s resurrection is futile and empty (1 Corinthians 15:12–19). Accepting atheistic assumptions for science distorts God’s creative power and the gospel as the answer to humanity’s problem of death (Galatians 1:8–9; cf. Rom 5:12–17; 1 Cor 15:21–23).
As God created the universe and all life, God can create life again and form life from nonliving matter as in the act of Jesus’s resurrection. Resurrection is God’s act of recreating to restore bodily life. According to the Bible, the answer to death is Jesus resurrecting to save all humanity by providing escape from death. As the biblical writers attest, Jesus’s resurrection is essential to the gospel (1 Corinthians 15). Historians recognize that various people did come to believe in Jesus’s resurrection by witnessing Jesus alive from the dead. Jesus’s resurrection over physical death attests to Jesus’s uniqueness in pleasing God. Therefore, Jesus’s words and life stand by God’s approval. Historians recognize that Jesus claimed to be “the Son of Man” — the one who would have dominion and judgment in His everlasting kingdom of all nations (Mark 14:62; cf. Dan 7:13–14, 26–28).
By God’s authority, Jesus taught values upon the Creation of Genesis, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.'” (Matthew 19:4–5). Jesus and His apostles taught that God created humankind who can perceive God as the Creator “since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20; cf. Luke 11:50–51; Heb 9:26). Jesus relied upon Genesis that God created all life and human life “in the beginning” (Mark 10:6; cf. Exod 20:11). Jesus warned of God’s judgment by noting the Flood as a historical event (Matt 24:37–39; cf. 2 Pet 3:5–6). Jesus taught from Genesis as factual.
The Genesis account of Creation is essential to the Christian faith, human value, the need for salvation, the institution of marriage, and understanding the cause and order of the universe. The Creation account in Genesis agrees with science with no contradiction. Christians need not reconcile secular theories with a non-literal understanding of Genesis. Those who trust Christ must trust His words as Jesus attested to God’s creation of man and woman “from the beginning of creation.” In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.