III. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT WHEN GOD CREATED?
Now, I would like to share with you some further
thoughts on what the Bible teaches about creation and science. In
doing so, I would like to cite Dr. Norman Geisler’s new Systematic
Theology, Volume 2 entitled, "God and Creation." His words express
what I believe, although I do not believe I could say as well as he.
22. What are the issues presented in the current creation/evolution
The Current Debate on Creation/Evolution
Since the time of Charles Darwin (1809-1882),
debate has raged within Christianity on whether or not total
evolution is compatible with the historic biblical and theological
teaching on origins. Two basic camps have emerged: theistic
evolution and creationism. Within the second faction (creationists),
there are two major groups: old-earth creationists and young-earth
creationists. (The former are often called progressive creationists,
and the latter, fiat creationists.) Currently, in America, the
young-earth creationists are led by the Institute for Creation
Research (ICR), based on the work of Henry Morris. Progressive
(old-earth) creationism is championed by Hugh Ross and his "Reasons
to Believe" organization; another proponent of this view is Robert
Newman at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania
23. What is the primary difference between young-earth and old-earth
The primary difference between young- and old-earth
creationists is the speculated amount of time between God’s creative
acts. Young-earthers insist that it was all accomplished in 144
hours–six successive 24-hour days–while old-earth (progressive)
creationists allow for millions (or even billions) of years. This is
usually done by:
(1) placing long periods of time before Genesis
1:1 (making it a recent and local Creation);
(2) placing the long periods of time between
Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (called "gap" views);
(3) making the "days" of Genesis 1 long periods
(4) allowing long periods of time between
literal 24-hour days in Genesis 1 (called "alternate day-age views);
(5) making the days of Genesis to be days of
revelation of God to the writer, not days of Creation (called
"revelatory day" views).
There are several variations within these
perspectives, making a total of more than a dozen different views held
by evangelical theologians on the matter.
Old-earth (progressive) creationists are not to be
confused with theistic evolutionists. Old-earth creationists do not
accept macroevolution as a method by which God produced the originally
created kinds of Genesis 1. Old-earth creationism was strong among
nineteenth-century creationists, though the view dates from at least
the fourth century (in Augustine). Again, prominent contemporary
defenders include Hugh Ross and Robert Newman.
24. What are the areas of agreement between young- and old-earth
Young- and old-earth creationists have much in
common, at least among those who are evangelical. This includes
several basic things.
Both young- and old-earthers believe that God
supernaturally, directly and immediately produced every kind of animal
and human as separate and genetically distinct forms of life. Both
hold that every kind produced by God was directly created de nova
(brand-new) and did not come about by God’s using natural
processes over a long period of time or tinkering with previous types
of life in order to make higher forms (evolution).
Both groups are also agreed in their opposition to
naturalism, which they see as the philosophical presupposition of
evolution. They correctly observe that without a naturalistic bias,
evolution loses its credibility. Ruling out the possibility of
supernatural intervention in the world begs the whole question in
favor of evolution even before one begins.
Likewise, both are united in their opposition to
macroevolution, either theistic or nontheistic; that is, they
reject the theory of common ancestry. They both deny that all forms of
life descended by completely natural processes without supernatural
intervention from the outside. They deny that all living things are
like a tree connected to a common trunk and root; rather, they affirm
the separate ancestry of all the basic forms of life, a picture more
like a forest of different trees. Microevolution, where small
changes occur within the basic kinds of created things, is
acknowledged, but no macro (large-scale) evolution occurs between
different kinds. For example, both old- and young-earth creationists
agree that all dogs are related to an original canine pair–part of the
same tree. However, they deny that dogs, cats, cows, and other created
kinds are related like branches from one original tree.
Further, both young- and old-earthers who are
evangelical hold to the historicity of the Genesis account: They
believe that Adam and Eve were literal people, the progenitors of the
entire human race. While some may allow for poetic form and figure of
speech in the narrative, all agree that it conveys historical and
literal truth about origins. This is made clear by the New Testament
references to Adam and Eve, their creation and fall, as literal (cf.
Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:12; 1 Tim. 2:13-14).
25. What are the areas of difference between young- and old-earth
Of course, there are some differences between the
two basic evangelical views on Creation. The primary ones include the
A crucial variance between the two views, naturally,
is the age of the earth. Young-earthers insist that both the Bible and
science support a universe that is only thousands of years old, while
old-earthers allow for billions of years. Young-earthers connect their
view to a literal interpretation of Genesis (and Ex. 20:11), but old-earthers
claim the same basic hermeneutic, which they believe can include
millions, if not billions, of years since Creation. They too cite
scientific evidence in their favor.
What are three areas both sides ought to agree on?
At a minimum, it would be wise if both sides could
agree on the following:
(1) The age of the earth is not a test for
(2) Neither view is proven with scientific
finality, since there are unproven (if not unprovable)
presuppositions associated with each.
(3) The fact of Creation (vs. evolution)
is more important than the time of Creation. Their common
enemy (naturalistic evolution) is a more significant focus than
their intramural differences.
27. What conclusions can we reach concerning the doctrine of creation?
The doctrine of Creation is a cornerstone of the
Christian faith. The essentials of this teaching have universal
consent among orthodox theologians. They include the following:
(1) There is a theistic God.
(2) Creation of the universe was ex nihilo
(out of nothing).
(3) Every living thing was created by God.
(4) Adam and Eve were a direct and special
creation of God.
(5) The Genesis account of creation is
historical, not mythological.
While there is lively debate about the time
of Creation, all evangelicals agree on the fact of Creation.
There is also agreement on the source of Creation (a theistic God) and
the purpose of Creation (to glorify God). The exact method of Creation
is still a moot question; however, increasingly, the scientific
evidence supports a supernatural Creation of the universe, the direct
creation of first life, and the special creation of every basic life
form. Hence, macroevolution, whether theistic or naturalistic, is
unfounded both biblically and scientifically.86
27. What are the two major views with regard to the time involved in
Dr. Geisler continues under "Appendix Four" of the
above referenced book:
There are two major views with regard to the time
involved in Creation: the old-earth view and the young-earth view. The
latter believes the universe is no more than approximately 15,000
years old, while the former holds that it is probably about 13.7
billion years old.
Young-earthers take the "days" of Creation to be six
successive, literal, solar days of twenty-four hours each, totaling
144 hours of Creation. They also reject any significant time gaps
between the accounts in Genesis 1 or within the genealogies in Genesis
5 and 11.
28. What arguments are offered for the "twenty-four hour day" view?
The Six Twenty-Four-Hour-Day View of Creation
Not all scholars who take the days of Genesis to be
twenty-four hour days are young-earthers (some hold a gap theory);
however, all who hold to a young earth hold to the
There are many biblical arguments presented in favor
of the twenty-four-hour-day position. These include the following:
It is contended that the usual meaning of the Hebrew
word yom ("day") is twenty-four hours unless the context
indicates otherwise. The context does not indicate anything but a
twenty-four-hour day in Genesis 1; hence, the days should be taken as
Further, it is noted that when numbers are used in a
series (1, 2, 3…) in connection with the word day (yom) in the
Old Testament, it always refers to twenty-four-hour days. The absence
of any exception to this in the Old Testament is given as evidence of
the fact that Genesis 1 is referring to twenty-four-hour days.
Another line of evidence is the use of the phrase
"evening and morning" in connection with each day in Genesis 1. Since
the literal twenty-four-hour day on the Jewish calendar began in the
"evening" (by sunset) and ended in the "morning" (before
sunset) the next day, it is concluded that these are literal
According to the law of Moses (Ex. 20:11), the
Jewish workweek (Sunday through Friday was to be followed by a day of
rest on Saturday, just as God had done on His "six-day week" of
creation. The Jewish workweek refers to six successive
twenty-four-hour days. This being the case, it seems that the creation
week, like the workweek, was only 144 hours long.
Young-earthers claim that according to Genesis 1,
light was not made until the fourth day (1:14), but there was life on
the third day (1:11-13). However, life on earth cannot exist for
millions (or even thousands) of years without light; thus, the "days"
must not have been long periods of time.
Plants were created on the third day (1:11-13), and
animals were not created until later (1:20-23). There is a symbiotic
relation between plants and animals, one depending on the other for
its life. For example, plants give off oxygen and take in carbon
dioxide, and animals do the reverse. Therefore, plants and animals
must have been created closely together, not separated by long periods
According to the old-earth position, there was death
before Adam. Nevertheless, the Bible declares that death came only
after Adam as a result of his sin: ‘Just as sin entered the world
through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to
all men, because all sinned’ (Rom. 5:12; cf. 8:20-22).
It is well known that the theory of evolution (or
common ancestry) depends on very long periods of time for life to
develop from a one-celled animal to human beings. Without these long
periods of time, evolution would not be possible. Thus, it is argued
by young-earthers, that granting long periods of time is an
accommodation to evolution.
According to this text, ‘At the beginning of
creation God "made them male and female."‘ If God created humankind at
the beginning of Creation, then they were not created at the end of
millions of years, as the old-earth view contends.
29. How do we respond to the arguments for the "twenty-four hour day"
A Response to the Arguments Offered for the
In spite of the fact that many find these arguments
convincing proof of six successive twenty-four hour days of Creation,
the case is less than definitive for several reasons. Those who reject
the six successive solar-day view reply as follows.
It is true that most often the Hebrew word yom
(day) means "twenty-four hours." However, this is not definitive
for its meaning in Genesis 1 for several reasons.
First, the meaning of the term is not determined by
a majority vote but by the context in which it is used. It is not
important how many times it is used elsewhere but how it is used here.
Second, even in the Creation story in Genesis 1-2,
"day" (yom) is used of more than a twenty-four hour period.
Speaking of the whole six days of Creation Genesis 2:4 refers to it as
"the day" (yom) when all things were created.
Third, and finally, yom is elsewhere used of
long periods of time as in Psalm 90:4, which is cited in 2 Peter 3:8:
‘A day is like a thousand years.’
Critics of the twenty-four-hour-day view point out
that there is no rule of the Hebrew language demanding that all
numbered days in a series refer to twenty-four-hour days. Further,
even if there were no exceptions in the Old Testament, it would not
mean that "day" in Genesis 1 does not refer to more than a
twenty-four-hour period of time: Genesis 1 may be the exception!
Finally, contrary to the solar-day view, there is another example in
the Old Testament of a numbered series of days that are not
twenty-four-hour days. Hosea 6:1-2 reads: "Come, let us return to the
LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on
the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence."
It is clear that the prophet is not speaking of twenty-four hour
"days," but of longer periods of time in the future. Even so, he uses
numbered days in a series.
First, the fact that the phrase "evening and
morning" is often used in connection with twenty-four hour days
does not mean it must always be used in this way.
Second, if one is going to take everything in
Genesis 1 in a strictly literal way, then the phrase "evening and
morning" does not encompass all of a twenty-four-hour day, but only
the late afternoon of one day and the early morning of another. This
is considerably less than twenty-four-hours.
Third, technically, the text does not say the "day"
was composed of "evening and morning" (thus allegedly making a
twenty-four-hour Jewish day); rather, it simply says, "And there was
evening, and there was morning–the first day" (Gen. 1:5). Further, the
phrase may be a figure of speech indicating a beginning and end to a
definite period of time, just as we see in phrases like "the dawn of
world history" or the "sunset years of one’s life."
Fourth, if every day in this series of seven is to
be taken as twenty-four hours, why is the phrase "evening and morning"
not used with one of the days (the seventh)? In fact, as we shall see
(below), the seventh day is not twenty-four hours, and thus there is
no necessity to take the other days as twenty-four hours either, since
all of them alike use the same word (yom) and have a series of
numbers with them.
Fifth, and finally, in Daniel 8:14 "evenings and
mornings" refer to a period of 2,300 days. Indeed, often in the Old
Testament the phrase is used as a figure of speech meaning
"continually" (cf. Ex. 18:13; 27:21; Lev. 24:3; Job 4:20).
It is true that the creation week is compared with a
workweek (Ex. 20:11); however, it is not uncommon in the Old Testament
to make unit-to-unit comparisons rather than minute-for-minute ones.
For example, God appointed forty years of wandering for forty days of
disobedience (Num. 14:34). And, in Daniel 9, 490 days equals 490 years
(cf. 9:24-27). What is more, we know the seventh day is more than
twenty-four hours, since according to Hebrews 4 the seventh day is
still going on. Genesis says that "on the seventh day [God] rested"
(Gen. 2:2), but Hebrews informs us that God is still in that Sabbath
rest unto which He entered after He created: "There remains, then, a
Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest
also rests from his own work, just as God did from his" (Heb. 4:10).
Light was not created on the fourth day, as
defenders of the solar day argue; rather, it was made on the very
first day when God said, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3). As to why
there was light on the first day when the sun did not appear until the
fourth day, there are various possibilities. Some scholars have noted
a parallelism between the first three days (light, water, and land–all
empty) and the second three days (light, water, and land–all filled
with bodies). This may indicate a parallelism in which the first and
fourth days cover the same period, in which case the sun existed from
Others have pointed out that while the sun was
created on the first day, it did not appear until the
fourth day. Perhaps this was due to a vapor cloud that allowed light
through, but not the distinct shape of the heavenly bodies from which
the light emanated.
Some plants and animals are interdependent, but not
all. Genesis does not mention all the plants and animals, but only
some. If the "days" are six successive periods, then those forms of
plant and animal life that need each other could have been created
together. In fact, the basic order of events is the order of
dependence. For instance, many plants and animals can exist without
humans (and they were created first), but humans (who were created on
the sixth day) cannot exist without certain plants and animals. In
addition, if the "days" are parallel, then the problem does not exist,
since plants and animals would exist at the same time. In any event,
the argument from the symbiotic relation of plants and animals does
not prove that the six "days" of Genesis 1 must be only 144 hours in
There are several problems with this argument.
First, Romans 5:12 does not say all animals die
because of Adam’s sin, but only that "all men" die as a consequence.
Second, Romans 8 does not say that animal death
results from Adam’s sin, but only that the "creation was subjected to
frustration" as a result of it (v. 20).
Third, if Adam ate anything–and he had to eat in
order to live–then at least plants had to die before he sinned.
Fourth, and finally, the fossil evidence indicates
animal death before human death, since people are found only on the
top (later) strata, while animals are found in lower (earlier) strata.
What does Romans 5:12 teach us about death before the Fall?
Let me insert some additional thoughts to what Dr.
Geisler has written: Romans 5:12 says, "Therefore, just as through one
man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death
spread to all men, because all sinned." Here we learn:
1.) Through Adam’s act of rebellion sin entered
2.) Death through sin resulted –but to whom?
3.) Death spread to all men.
4.) Death spread to all men because all men
5.) Notice, it doesn’t say that death spread to
all the animals–it says death spread to all men.
kind of "death" is Paul taking about in Romans 5:12?
6.) Further, what kind of death is the Apostle
Paul talking about? Remember, the Bible describes five kinds of
a.) Physical death–death of the body (James
b.) Spiritual death or separation from God
(Rom. 6:23; Eph. 4:18)
c.) Eternal death–the second death (Rev.
d.) Death to the law (Rom. 7:4)
e.) Death to sin (Rom. 6:11)
In Romans 5:12, the Apostle is primarily referring
to "b"–spiritual death. Genesis 2:15-17 tells us why this is so:
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the
Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the
man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in
the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.’"
Did Adam and Eve die physically "the day" they ate from the forbidden
God specifically told Adam and Eve on the day they
would eat the forbidden fruit, "You shall surely die." Did they
physically die that day? No, they did not. After they sinned, Adam and
Eve were still walking around. In fact, Adam lived to be 930 years
old. They tilled the ground and had children. The death specified in
Genesis 2 and 3 and by Paul in Romans 5 must be spiritual death. When
Adam sinned, he instantly "died," just as God said he would. He
remained alive physically, mentally, volitionally and emotionally, but
he died spiritually. That is, man broke his harmonious fellowship with
God and introduced the inclination or the propensity to sin (to place
one’s own way above God’s). This is what is called "the Doctrine of
Original Sin" (not a particular sin, but the inherent propensity to
sin entered the human realm as men became sinners by nature).
If animals and plants do not sin, can they be sentenced to "death
In light of this:
1.) The "death through sin" Paul is talking
about is not equivalent to physical death. If so, Adam and Eve
would have physically died the day they ate of the tree. The Bible
is talking primarily about spiritual death resulting from sin.
2.) Only humans have earned the title of
"sinners." Only humans can experience "death through sin."
Animals don’t sin and aren’t called sinners in the Bible. Further,
animals are not offered the gift of eternal life if they repent.
3.) The death Adam experienced is carefully
qualified by the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:12. He writes: "Death
spread to all men"–not to all plants and animals–just on human
Also, notice Romans 5:18: "Therefore, as through one
man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation,
even so through one man’s righteous act a free gift came to all men,
resulting in justification of life." Here, Paul is talking about man’s
fall, his spiritual death and separation from God and God’s salvation
via Christ’s death to provide salvation to cover the sins of all men.
They must receive this gift by faith in Christ.
What other punishments did mankind receive as a result of the Fall?
4.) Besides spiritual death, man became mortal,
liable to all the miseries of this life and cut off from the
possibility of existing physically forever. In other words, as a
result of the Fall, God condemned Adam to a limited life span
and the certain fact of physical death in the future. God took
away access to a tree in the garden that gave Adam and Eve the
potential for eternal physical life. How do we know? Scripture
tells us this in Genesis 3:22-24:
"Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has
become like one of us, to know good and evil, and now, lest he put
out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live
forever’–therefore, the Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden
to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man;
and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a
flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree
Apparently Adam and Eve had the potential for
eternal physical life before they sinned and even afterwards. John
MacArthur comments in his Study Bible regarding these verses:
"God told man that he would surely die if he ate
of the forbidden tree. But God’s concern may also have been that man
not live forever in his pitiful, cursed condition. Taken in the
broader context of Scripture, driving the man and his wife out of
the garden was an act of merciful grace to prevent them from being
sustained forever by the tree of life."
Again, before the Fall God made provision for Adam
and Eve to sustain their physical life forever; but after they
disobeyed God, not only was there immediate spiritual death that came
to them, but God pronounced a curse on them and told them they would
eventually physically die by cutting them off from the tree of life.
How was nature affected
by the Fall?
In Genesis 3:17-19 we are told: "Then to Adam He
said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife and have eaten
from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of
it," cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you shall eat of it
all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring
forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat
of your face ye shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out
of it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust ye shall return.’"
All Christians believe that when Adam and Eve
sinned, it brought immediate spiritual death to them and the certainty
of future physical death. Christians also believe that original sin
came into existence at this time. Further, Christ is the only
provision for man’s sinful condition. But the facts do not mandate
that Christians hold plant and animal life died only after Adam and
But how did the Fall affect nature? What is the
meaning of Romans 8:20-22, where it states: "For the creation was
subjected to frustration (futility) not by its own choice, but by the
will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself
will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the
glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole
creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up till
The words "futility" or "frustration" refer to the
inability to achieve a goal or purpose. All creation is personified to
be, as it were, longing for the transformation from the curse and its
effects. Because of man’s sin God cursed the physical universe and now
no part of creation entirely fulfills God’s original purpose."
Did the "law of entropy" only go into effect after the Fall?
Some interpret this verse to say that Adam’s sin
ushered into the creation every kind of natural decay and all pain and
death. They assume that the law of entropy which describes the
decreasing order in the universe, did not take effect until Adam and
Eve sinned. Based on this assumption, the time between the universe’s
creation and Adam and Eve’s fall must be brief to explain why the
physical evidence shows no period when decay and death were not in
But there are several problems with this
interpretation. First, if one holds to the twenty-four-hour-day
hypothesis that God took six days to create everything, then according
to Romans 8:22, the "whole creation" would include the universe and
all the stars. But if so, did the stars not burn after the first day?
Physics demands that the stars were burning and that entropy was in
effect at that point. If this is the case, then decay was present from
the very first day.
As Dr. Hugh Ross has written in The Genesis
"When we consider that the second thermodynamic
law is essential for life’s existence, essential for eating and
mobility and countless other activities that most of us agree are
enjoyable and good, we see no reason to suggest that the law should
be judged as bad. Thermodynamic laws were included when God declared
His creation ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).
We must be careful, however, not to confuse God’s
very good creation with His best creation, or more accurately, His
ultimate goal for His creation. In the new creation there will be no
thermodynamic laws–no decay, no frustration, no groaning, no
grieving (see Revelation 21:1-5). The thermodynamic laws are good,
in spite of the ‘decay,’ ‘frustration,’ and ‘groaning,’ because they
are part of God’s strategy for preparing His creation to enjoy the
blessings and rewards of the new creation."
So, for Adam and Eve, if they did any work in the
Garden, then a loss of energy and a certain amount of decay was
present. Why? Because work is essential to breathing, circulating
blood, contracting muscles and digesting food. These are all virtually
life-sustaining processes. Adam was working, tending the Garden of
Eden (Gen. 2:15) before he sinned. Thus, Romans 8:20-22 could not
imply that Adam’s sin inaugurated all of the decay process.
was Paul referring to when he said creation "groans"?
When Paul refers to the creation "groaning," what
other effects from the curse is he talking about? It could be that in
Genesis 1:28 God commanded man to tend the environment, but because
man sinned the environment has been ruined. The human effect on the
environment is roughly analogous to the results of sending a
two-year-old child to tidy up a closet. Left alone, the closet will
become less tidy due to the natural tendency toward decay and
disorder. Typically, though, the two-year-old will greatly speed up
the decay and disorder process. Isaiah 24:5 describes the devastation
of the planet that results from the insubordination of human beings to
God. Just as one must wait for the two-year-old child to grow up a
little before expecting him to help tidy up a closet, so too the
creation waits for the human race to experience the results of God
conquering the sin problem.
Even such church fathers as Origen, who lived 185 to
254 A.D., interpreted Romans 8:20-22 to imply that decay has been in
effect in the natural world since the creation of the universe. Since
Origen preceded by hundreds of years the scientific discovery of the
laws of thermodynamics and entropy (which include the principle of
decay), it is clear that he did not come up with his interpretation as
a result of trying to comply with the modern scientific theories of
Do we have reason to believe that pain and decay may have existed
before the Fall?
Are there other reasons that tell us that physical
pain and decay must have existed before the Fall? Yes. In Genesis 3:16
God says to Eve, "I will greatly increase [or multiply] your pains in
childbearing." He does not say "introduce." He says, "Increase" or
"multiply," implying there would have been some pain in any case.
As Philip Yancey has so clearly shown in his book,
Where Is God When It Hurts? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), some
pain is good. It’s good that when I put my hand near fire, the pain
warns me of danger. If the pain wasn’t there, I wouldn’t know that my
fingers were burning. Pain is God’s way of keeping us from destroying
ourselves. Adam and Eve certainly must have had the use of touch and
could feel pain in the Garden before the Fall. They must have had a
nervous system that protected them from any dangers in their
environment in the Garden. They must have been able to feel a bee
sting, or to get poison ivy, or to be pricked by a thorn. When Adam
and Eve sinned, the consequences and risk of pain and decay didn’t
begin, they simply increased.
While the sin we human beings commit causes us all
naturally to react negatively to decay, work, physical death, pain and
suffering, and while ultimately all of this is somehow tied into God’s
plan to conquer sin permanently, there is nothing in Scripture that
compels us to conclude that none of these entities existed before
Adam’s first act of rebellion against God. On the other hand, God’s
revelation through nature provides overwhelming evidence that some of
these aspects did indeed exist for a long time period previous to
God’s creating Adam.
If animals died before the Fall, does this alter the biblical doctrine
of the atonement?
Another question that arises is this. If animals
died before the Fall, doesn’t this alter the biblical Doctrine of
Atonement? Some cite Hebrews 9:22, which says, "In fact, the law
requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the
shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." They interpret this verse
to say, "The basis of the gospel message is that God brought in death
and bloodshed because of sin. If death and bloodshed of animals (or
man) existed before Adam sinned, then the whole basis of atonement–the
basis of redemption–is destroyed."
But this is faulty exegesis. While it is true there
is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood, Christ’s blood,
it does not necessarily follow that all shed blood is for the
remission of sin. To say there could have been no bloodshed before sin
is to make the same exegetical errors made by those who claim there
were no rainstorms or rainbows before the Genesis Flood.
Hebrews 10:1-4 explains that the blood of animal
sacrifices will not take away sin. The sacrificial killing of animals
was a physical picture of the spiritual death caused by sin, which
necessitated the death of a substitute to make atonement, as well as a
foreshadowing of the ultimate efficacious sacrifice that God Himself
would one day provide. Since the penalty for sin is spiritual death,
no animal sacrifice could ever atone for sin. The crime is spiritual,
thus the atonement had to be made by a spiritual Being.
The spilling of blood before Adam sinned in no way
affects or detracts from the Doctrine of Atonement. Upholding that
central doctrine in no way demands a creation scenario in which none
of God’s creatures received a scratch or other bloodletting wound
before Adam and Eve sinned. Even in an ideal natural environment,
animals would be constantly scratched, pricked, bruised and even
killed by accidental events and each other.
Now, another question that arises is this: Isn’t the
old-earth view an accommodation to evolution? Again, let me
cite Dr. Norman Geisler’s Systematic Theology, Volume 2, "God
In response to this charge, it must be observed
that allowing for long periods of time for the development of life
came long before the idea of evolution. Augustine (354-430), for
one, held to long periods of time for the development of life (City
of God, 11.6).
Also, even in modern times, scientists had
concluded that long periods of time were involved before Darwin
wrote in 1859.
Furthermore, long periods of time do not help
evolution, since without intelligent intervention, more time does
not produce the specified complexity involved in life. Natural laws
randomize, not specify. For example, dropping red, white, and blue
bags of confetti from a plane at 1,000 feet in the air will never
produce an American flag on the ground. Giving it more time to fall
by dropping it at 10,000 feet will diffuse it even more.
First, Adam was not created at the beginning
but at the end of the creation period (on the sixth day),
no matter how long or short the days were.
Second, the Greek word for "create" (ktisis)
can and sometimes does mean "institution" or "ordinance" (cf. 1
Peter 2:13). Since Jesus is speaking of the institution of marriage
in Mark 10:6, it could mean "from the beginning of the institution
Third, and finally, even if Mark 10:6 is speaking of
the original creation events, it does not mean there could not have
been a long period of time involved in those creative events.