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Making Sense of Genesis 1
(Creation Events and the Fossil Record)

by Dr. Hugh Ross, M.Sc., Ph.D. (from his book "Creation And Time")

With the point of view and initial conditions correctly identified (see Part 1: Importance of Point of View), the sequence of Genesis creation events no longer seems difficult to harmonize with the record of astronomy, paleontology, geology, and biology. The few purported conflicts with the fossil record stem from inaccurate interpretations of some Hebrew nouns for various plant and animal species.

For example, some have ridiculed Genesis for declaring that insects appear late in the record of life on earth, after the birds and sea mammals and just before human beings. The problem reference is to the creatures "that creepeth upon the earth" (Genesis 1:25-26, KJV). The Hebrew word in question is remes, and its broad definition encompasses rapidly moving vertebrates, such as rodents, hares, and lizards. But remes in verse 24 has a more restricted usage. The creatures under discussion are the nephesh (verses 20-25) - soulish creatures, creatures that can relate to human; creatures with qualities of mind, will, and emotion. These can only be birds and mammals. So the remes of verse 24 cannot be insects or even reptiles. They must be short-legged land mammals such as rodents and hares.

Another point of ridicule is the mention of land mammals (Genesis 1:25) as part of the sixth creation day, while sea mammals (1:21) show up on the fifth creation day. The fossil record clearly shows that the first sea mammals came on the scene after the first land mammals. The answer to this ridicule comes from identifying the kinds of creatures (the chayyah, the behemah, and the remes) The text associates with the sixth creation day (1:25). The words refer not to all the land mammals but rather to three specific classes of land mammals:

1. Long-legged quadruped usually described as wild
2. Long-legged quadruped that is easy to tame
3. Short-legged quadruped

Apparently, these particular land mammals were designed to coexist with human beings. The fossil record confirms that such land mammals do not show up until after the initial appearance of birds and sea mammals.

Events of the third creation day have also been challenged. The Hebrew phrase translated as "seeds, trees, and fruit" (Genesis 1:11-12) has been taken by some as a reference to deciduous plants. However, the respective Hebrew nouns, zera', 'ets, and periy are generic terms that easily can be applied to plant species as primitive as those that appeared at the beginning of the Cambrian era (c 500,000,000 years ago). Their early mention in the Genesis creation account poses no scientific problem.

Scientific evidence for ocean life predating land life poses no threat either. The Spirit of God "brooded" over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2), possibly creating life in the oceans before the events of the six creation days begin.

Order of Creation Conditions and Events

Clearly, a detailed comparison of the Genesis creation account with nature's record requires careful study of the Hebrew words in their context. This study, however, leads not to scientific impasse, but rather to powerful evidence of the scientific soundness of the Bible. Such soundness cannot be a lucky fluke. Given that it was recorded more than 3,400 years ago, the book of Genesis must be supernaturally inspired.

Table 16.1: Order of Genesis 1 Events
1. Creation by God's fiat miracle of the entire physical universe (length, width, height, time, matter, energy, galaxies, stars, planets, etc.).
Note: Planet Earth is empty of life and unfit for life; Earth's primordial atmosphere and the solar system's interplanetary debris prevent the light of the sun, moon, and stars from reaching the surface of the earth's ocean.
2. Clearing of the interplanetary debris and partial transformation of the earth's atmosphere so that light from the heavenly bodies now penetrates to the surface of the earth's ocean.
3. Formation of water vapor in the troposphere under conditions that establish a stable water cycle.
4. Formation of continental land masses together with ocean basins.
5. Production of plants on the continental land masses.
6. Transformation of the atmosphere from a translucent condition to one that is at least occasionally transparent.
7. Production of swarms of small sea animals.
8. Creation by God's fiat miracles of sea mammals and birds.
9. Creation by God of land mammals capable of interacting with the future human race.
10. Creation by God's fiat miracle of the human species.

Completing the analysis of words and contexts1 yields the list of creation events seen in table 16.1. Obviously, no author writing more than 3,400 years ago, as Moses did, could have so accurately described and sequenced these events, plus the initial conditions, without divine assistance. And if God could guide the words of Moses to scientific and historical precision in this most complex report of divine activity, we have reason to believe we can trust Him to communicate with perfection through all the other Bible writers as well.

Bible Creationism
Genesis 1 is not the only chapter in the Bible that describes the manner in which God created the realm of nature. Genesis 2, Job 38-39, Psalm 104, Proverbs 8:22-31, John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:15-17, and Hebrew 11:3 also address God's creative activity. From all these passages it is possible to develop a consistent position on how God created. It is stated concisely here:

The God of the Bible generated the universe transcendently, that is, independent of matter, energy, and the dimensions of length, width, height, and time. He personally designed and built the universe and our solar system so that life could flourish on Earth. Though the Bible does not identify the specific means by which God produced the lower life-forms, it does state that He specially created through fiat, miraculous means birds, mammals, and human beings. Since the time these animal kinds were created by God, they have been subject to minor changes in accordance with the laws of nature, which God established. However, the Bible clearly denies that any of these species descended from lower forms of life. Human beings are distinct from all other animals, including the bipedal primates that preceded them, in that humans alone possess body, soul, and spirit.

To order this book "Creation And Time" go to: Reasons to Believe Catalog


Ross Hugh, Ph. D., "Creation And Time" Navpress, (1994) Reasons to Believe, p.151-154

Dr. Hugh Ross's References :

-1. Ross, Hugh, "Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective", second edition, (Pasadena,CA: Reasons To Believe, 1983).

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