Understanding the Old Testament

The Creation Story

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Let me frankly state that I am not a Young Earth believer. I cannot accept the idea that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old when scientists estimate the Earth is actually billions of years old.

I know Genesis 1 says that God created the world and everything in it in six days, but what is a “day”? We measure a day by the rising and setting of the Sun, but the Sun and Moon weren’t created until the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19) And 2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (Psalm 90:4 is similar.) Time means little to God because He doesn’t grow up, grow old, or die, so a day or a million years makes little difference to Him. Genesis 1 talks about six “days” because that was a concept the people back then would understand—and it made for a good story.

Simply put, the creation story of Genesis 1-2 is not a lesson in astronomy, physics, or biology. It is a lesson in God. And the lesson it teaches is that God created everything, and everything He created was good. (Genesis 1:31) Then we messed it up—“we” being humans.

Now why does God create mankind in Genesis 1:26-27, and then create them again in Genesis 2? Well, one possibility is that the story of Adam and Eve is not history but allegory or parable, intended to explain how we humans rebelled against God by wanting to be “like God,” as we saw with Adam and Eve.

But if you prefer a more historical approach to Genesis 2-3, try this. Genesis 2:7 says that God formed a man from the dust and breathed into him the breath of life, and the man became a living “soul.” Under this interpretation, Adam and Eve were not the first humans, but they were the first humans to possess an eternal soul. And perhaps those earlier humans were the ones who mated with the sons of Adam and Eve later.

One possible problem with this interpretation is Genesis 1:26, which says that God made man “in Our image”—which refers to God’s spiritual image. To me, Genesis 1:26 seems pretty meaningless unless those men and women possessed an eternal soul.

Personally, I have trouble accepting the early chapters of Genesis as historical. I believe they are more like parables. But if you believe they are historical, that’s fine, too. The people who know the truth are long gone.

Question to ponder or discuss: What does it mean to be made in the spiritual image of God? How are humans similar to God, and how are we different?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)

 

 

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