The late famous physicist Stephen Hawking published a book in 2011 titled The Grand Design. He argued that because there is a law such as gravity, the universe was able to create itself out of nothing. He said that gravity is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. But God’s Word tells us something entirely different, and they can’t both be right. As Bible-believing Christians, we need to be clear on the basics—the what, who, how, when and why of creation.
Genesis 1:26 tells us that the pinnacle of creation was man made in the image of God. But just as astronauts must take part of the earth into space with them in order to survive, we understand that the earth had to exist first for the first man, Adam, to survive. The human body is constructed to exist in a gravitational environment; everything from blood flow to our sense of balance is influenced by the gravitational pull of the earth. Without gravity the blood pools in the lower part of the body, and the brain is deprived of blood. (That’s why astronauts wear gravity suits.)
And the earth, which sustains mankind, must orbit an energy source—we call it the sun—at just the right distance and rotate at the right speed at the right angle. The moon stabilizes the angle, and the other planets in the solar system stabilize the orbit. You get the idea: The what is the whole universe, and the fact that we have a universe tells us that we must have had a Creator.
The natural question then is to ask, “Who made God?”
God is eternal. He doesn’t have a beginning and therefore doesn’t require a cause. There is nothing irrational about an eternal being. There is something irrational about something popping up out of nothing.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” — Psalm 90:2
When my colleague Dr. Olinger was teaching about Christianity in China several years ago, one of the nursing students asked him during his lecture on creation where God came from, the first question communist students are taught to ask.
Here’s what he said:
“God has always existed.” [laughter]
“You laugh. Fair enough. Let me ask you a question. Where do you think the universe comes from? I know what you think, because I’ve read your books. You believe in the Big Bang. Billions of years ago, all the matter in the universe was condensed into a single point, and for reasons that we do not understand, it began to expand very rapidly.” [general agreement]
“So, here’s my question: Where did the little ball of matter come from?
“You don’t know, and you can’t know. Even Stephen Hawking says that at that point, all the laws of physics are suspended so it’s impossible then to know.
“I believe, with evidence, that God has always existed; you believe, without evidence, that matter has always existed. I worship God; you worship dirt. Which of us should be laughing?”
Dr. Olinger reports that the student didn’t have a follow-up question.
Something must be eternal. Either mass–energy is eternal or God is eternal. And science has taught us a lot about mass–energy, one fact being that it wears out. So if mass–energy is eternal, it would have already worn out! So, the who has to be God.
Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Who is the “us”? It is the whole of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)!
How about the how? That is where the rest of Genesis 1 comes in. It tells us how God created. But before I discuss the how, I need to establish the fact that Genesis is a historical account.
It is popular in some modern evangelical circles to say that the early chapters of Genesis are poetry or myth. They say that this removes all troubles with modern science and its insistence on an earth that is billions of years old.
But Genesis is not poetry. There are poetical accounts of creation in the Bible—Psalm 104 and certain chapters in Job—and they differ completely from the first chapter of Genesis. Hebrew poetry has certain characteristics like parallelism and figurative language—Genesis doesn’t.
Moses wrote a straightforward history of creation, and the New Testament quotes it like it is. According to the late Henry Morris, the New Testament either directly quotes or clearly refers to at least 165 passages. In fact, Jesus Christ himself referred to each of the first seven chapters of Genesis.
There are disastrous consequences if one disbelieves how God says He made humans because it doesn’t fit a modern scientific paradigm. When you open that door of disbelief, you are then open to disbelieving any part of Scripture that doesn’t fit with modern science’s explanations of reality—like the virgin birth of Jesus or His resurrection from the dead.
Now that I have established the fact that the first chapters of Genesis are a straightforward historical narrative, we need to answer the how question. How did God create the earth?
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:” — Exodus 20:11
He did it in six solar days (a solar day is the length of time that elapses between the sun’s reaching its highest point in the sky two consecutive times). How do we know that a day in Genesis 1 means a solar day? Because there is no stronger way to indicate a solar day than to say:
“And the evening and the morning were the first day.” — Genesis 1:5
“And the evening and the morning were the second day.” — Genesis 1:8
“And the evening and the morning were the third day.” — Genesis 1:13
The word for “day” in Hebrew is yom, and yom always means a literal day whenever a number or “evening and morning” precedes it.
There is another Hebrew word (olam) that has the idea of an age or period of time. If it took 5 billion years for God to make all things, why did He tell us it took but six days? In addition, Exodus 20 suggests a solar day. The institution of the Sabbath would be meaningless if it were not based on the activities of God’s creation week.
To suggest that the creation week extended over millions and billions of years also has the problem of placing death before Adam’s fall:
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” — 1 Corinthians 15:21–22
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” — Romans 5:12
How did He do it? He did it in six literal days, and He did it just by speaking the word! There was no starting material, no energy, no space, no time—just the eternal Trinity.
In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew word for create is bara, which implies creation out of nothing. Bara is used only when God is the subject. Therefore, only God can create out of nothing.
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” — Hebrews 11:3
Why couldn’t God have used the process of evolution to create? After all, God can do anything. The short answer is that He could have, but He didn’t. Creation using evolution denies who God is according to the Bible.
God is all-powerful.
Since He has all power, He didn’t have to stretch out creation over eons of time. He is capable of creating the universe in an instant.
God knows everything.
The fossil record as interpreted by evolutionists includes extinctions, misfits, dead ends and other evidences of poor planning. An omniscient God is not going to use trial and error to get creation right. He always gets everything right the first time. For example, He wouldn’t allow dinosaurs to reign for supposedly millions of years just to wipe them out and start over again with mammals.
God is a God of love.
The fossil record as interpreted by evolutionists displays a harsh world filled with storm and upheaval, disease and famine, struggle for existence and violent death—and this over millions of years even before sin entered into the world. Therefore, a God who created through evolution could not be a God of love.
The Creator God is a God of grace.
Here we see the struggle for survival in contrast to the grace of God.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” — 1 Peter 3:8
The fittest one died for us the unfit, the worthy for the unworthy, the just for the unjust.
Based on the genealogies in the Bible, I can say confidently that the earth was created between six and seven thousand years ago, even allowing for gaps. But it’s not just the Bible that tells us when. There are many other evidences.
Recent Date of Civilization
The beginning of civilization dates back only to about 5,000 years ago, to the beginning of written history around 3200 B.C. Archaeology has shown that advanced, modern cultures sprang up suddenly and almost simultaneously. These cultures devised elaborate calendars, sea-going vessels and impressive buildings. Exactly what we would expect after the Flood.
Using conservative growth figures of one-half percent per year, earth’s population would have been eight people about 5,000 years ago. If the earth were even hundreds of thousands of years old, we would be—as my old physics teacher George Mulfinger said—“Knee deep in bones.” The remarkable fact is that we can still place all the so-called physical evidence we have for human evolution—Ardi, Lucy, Turkana Boy, Australopithecus, etc.—inside a single coffin with room to spare.
Erosion of the Continents
The average yearly amount of sediments carried into the sea is 27.5 billion tons per year. The volume of the continents above sea level is 383 million billion tons. Therefore, all the continents would be reduced to sea level in 14 million years. However, according to the evolutionists the Colorado Plateau bears no signs of erosion for 70 million years. 70-million-year-old rocks are supposedly still lying around on the surface!
Decay of the Earth’s Magnetic Field
Since 1829, scientists have made precise measurements of the intensity of the earth’s magnetic field (the force that turns a compass needle northward) and have noted an exponential decline in the field strength. Therefore, for all practical purposes, the upper limit of field intensity indicates a date of about 20000 B.C. at the earliest.
Comets are icy asteroids that orbit about the sun. Comet orbits degrade due to interactions with planets and lose an appreciable amount of material each orbit (about 1 percent of their mass). Scientists have observed several partially disintegrate. If we believe the evolutionary age for the solar system, our complete supply of comets should have been exhausted long ago.
We have been taught that solar system bodies shine by reflected light and from heat they absorb from the sun. In other words, we normally think of planets as having no internal power source: The power they return cannot be greater than the power they receive from the sun. Jupiter actually radiates nearly twice as much power as it receives from the sun. How it could continue to do this for billions of years no one can say.
When? The oldest civilizations are young, the human race is young, the earth looks young, and the solar system is young and dynamic! So, the scientific evidence agrees with the Bible that the earth is thousands—rather than billions—of years old.
And that brings us to the why of creation. Why did God create man?
God has given two reasons why in the Bible:
For His Pleasure
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” — Revelation 4:11
The most important question that I need to ask myself at the end of every day is “Did I please God today?”
For His Glory
“For I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” — Isaiah 43:7
Glory is giving something its proper weight or worth. A “weighty” person is honorable, impressive, worthy of respect. God wants his reputation for greatness to fill the earth—not only because He is the Creator, but because of His unsurpassed activity as Deliverer and Savior.