Tim Keller rejects the view of Richard Dawkins who “argues that you cannot be an intelligent scientific thinker and still hold religious beliefs.” But Keller believes the view of a six twenty-four-hour day creation is “fortunately…losing credibility with a growing number of scholars.” In both Dawkins’ and Keller’s view, science has undermined the interpretation of Scripture. Keller even says, “There is no necessary disjunction between science and devout faith.” Keller repudiates the literal interpretation of Genesis one and two in order to believe in theistic evolution: “It is false logic to argue that if one part of Scripture can’t be taken literally then none of it can be.” The theologians who hold to the different forms of theistic evolution contradict themselves in rejecting the creation of the universe in six twenty-four-hour days in order to accommodate the science of atheistic evolution.
The reigning Baptist theologian from the late 1800’s to Millard Erickson was Augustus Strong. He was a staunch conservative for the fundamentals of the faith. Strong, however, had his problems. He did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture nor in a six twenty-four day creation.
Millard Erickson, who replaced Strong as the reigning Baptist theologian, is a progressive creationist. Both Strong and Erickson believe God used the process of evolution to varying degrees. Strong believed that God used evolution to a greater degree than Erickson: “Evolution is only the method of God.” In Strong’s view, evolution brought brute beast to a certain development and then God miraculously intervened and created a soul in Adam, the first man. “We are compelled, then, to believe that God’s ‘breathing into man’s nostrils the breath of life’ (Gen. 2:7), though it was a mediate creation as presupposing existing material in the shape of animal forms, was yet an immediate creation in the sense that only a divine reinforcement of the process of life turned the animal into man” (Systematic Theology, pages 466-467). So, according to Strong, evolution provided the body and God the soul.
As a progressive creationist, Erickson, believes that “between these special acts of creation, development took place through the channels of evolution. For example, it is possible that God created the first member of the horse family.” In regard to man, unlike theistic evolutionists, Erickson believes that “when the time came for man to be brought into existence, God made him directly and completely, God did not make him out of some lower creature. Rather, both the physical and spiritual nature of man were specially created by God.”
Erickson argues against the theistic evolutionary view that the “dust” of Gen. 2:7 cannot be literal dust but must be symbolic for already existing creatures. Here is how Strong explains “dust” in Gen. 2:7: “The ‘dust’ before the breathing of the spirit into it, may have been animated dust” (page 465). Also from other statements of Strong the dust must have been evolved animals before God breathed into them and the animal became the first man. Erickson presents a good argument against this allegorical interpretation of Scripture.
“The word dust occurs not only in Genesis 2:7 but also in 3:19, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ If we understand it in 2:7 to represent an already existing creature, we are faced with two choices: either the meaning of the term must be different in 3:19 (and in 3:14 as well), or we have the rather ludicrous situation that upon death one reverts to an animal. It should be noted that in those severe degenerative cases where a person becomes virtually subhuman, the change occurs prior to actual death. It would be better, then, to let the reference to dust in 3:19 (the clearer) interpret that in 2:7 (the less clear)” (Christian Theology, Vol. 2 page 483).
And yet, Erickson does not hold to a literal interpretation of “dust.” “The Bible tells us that God made man from the ‘dust’ of the ground. This dust need not be actual physical soil. It may be some elementary pictorial representation which was intelligible to the first readers” (Christian Theology, Vol. 2 page 482). To use Erickson’s logic against theistic evolution’s rejection of the literal meaning of “dust” then at death we do not return to actual physical soil but to some pictorial representation of death. Why cannot we just read the Word of God in the normal sense of language and except what it says? It is this refusal to take God’s Word at face value that has led to theistic evolution, progressive creationism and the age/day theory.
Gleason Archer, who advocates the day-age theory argues against using these passages in Exodus for literal solar days of creation.
“But this does not necessarily presuppose literal, twenty-four hour days, for the seventh day is explicitly hallowed in terms of the completion of the work of creation. For this purpose of memorial observance, the only possible way in which the seventh age (the age of completion, according to age-day theory) could be hallowed would be a literal seventh day of a seven-day week. It would certainly be impractical to devote an entire geologic age to the commemoration of a geologic age” (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, page 188).
Science at times has been wrong, as Wayne Grudem reminds us: “For example, when the Italian astronomer Galileo (1564-1642) began to teach that the earth was not the center of the universe but that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun (following the theories of the Polish astronomer Copernicus (1472-1543), he was criticized, and eventually his writings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church….Galileo was forced to recant his teachings and had to live under house arrest for the last few years of his life” (Systematic Theology, page 273).
Ken Ham, who is with Answers in Genesis, in a taped lecture, tells about two Sunday school girls who were discussing the six days of creation and one asked the other, “Why did God take so long?” How would you answer that Sunday schooler? Six days were a long time for our all powerful God of the universe to create everything. Could not God have created the universe in six seconds, or six minutes, or in six hours? Why did God take six days? The answer is in Exodus 20:8-11 and 31:15-18. These two passages argue for six literal 24 hours days of creation and not ages. Just as God took six literal solar days to create the universe and then rested on the seventh, he has commanded us to labor six days and rest one. If God interprets Genesis one and two literally, why cannot we?
Reading the Fourth Commandment in Ex. 20:8-11 in the normal sense of language, gives the sense that God is comparing the six literal days of creation and his one day of rest to our six days of labor and one day of rest. There is no idea of analogy or allegory is either the Genesis or Exodus texts.
What is the Biblical account of the origin of the universe and man?
Gen.1:1-3 is the biblical origin of man and the universe. In Genesis, God is blessing all nations through His people. This theme is seen in the overall outline of the book. In Genesis 1-11, we read of God’s blessings on the human race and then in Genesis 12-50 God’s blessings on His chosen people, Israel. The theme is also explicitly stated in the special promise in Gen. 12:3 where God promised to bless all nations through His people.
The beginning of God’s blessings is in the creation of man in Genesis one and two. There are two accounts of creation in the first two chapters. The general account of the creation of the universe is narrated in 1:1-2:3 and the specific account of the creation of man is given in 2:4-25. Each of these accounts begins with summary statement of introduction (1:1; 2:4) followed by the specifics.
What was the raw material or the states of things when God began to create? The incomplete planet is described in Genesis 1:2 as useless or “without form” as a desert in Dt. 32:10 which is uninhabited. The earth was also lifeless. The planet at this stage was covered with darkness and water. So the planet in verse two was useless, lifeless, and covered in darkness. “Darknesss” in Scripture does not always mean evil as here and in Psalm 104:19-24 where the darkness of night is seen as a blessing from God for which he is to be praised.
The planet at this stage is full of potential. How did God bring this raw material to its full potential? With this raw material, the great Potter formed the earth and then man out of the dust of the earth. First, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and then God spoke his first creative words in Gen. 1:3 and day by day for six days God removed the incompleteness and deficiencies of earth.
Paul draws an analogy between the incomplete earth and the sinner before salvation in 2 Cor.4:3-6. The sinner before salvation was also useless, lifeless (Eph. 2:1), and in darkness (Eph. 4:18). But then “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). How did God do this work in the sinner’s life? The same as He did with the useless, lifeless, and in darkness planet. The Spirit of God moved on the sinner’s life (John 16:8) when God’s Word was spoken or preached (Rom. 10:17).
Paul himself, as Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, is an illustration. Saul, on the road to Damascus, in his spiritual uselessness, lifelessness, and darkness, was struck to the ground by a light that was brighter than the noon day sun. That light was Jesus Christ the Son of God who was and is the Light of the world. As you and I witness the Word of God to unregenerate sinners, God’s Spirit will work at opening satanically blinded eyes so the Creator of the universe can once again create a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).