Chapter 1

Creation & Observation

Many years ago, while living near Santa Fe, New Mexico, I enjoyed the 23-mile drive from Española to Santa Fe, the State Capital and the oldest capital Santa Fe 'Pony'(and, many claim, oldest city) in the USA.  The scenery was unusual and spectacular, especially in the early wintertime when snow cappedTesuque Cliffs the surrounding Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains and dusted the landscape like powdered sugar.  It was a wonderland replete with plant-covered rolling hills, peach-colored craggy cliffs and pillars, and brilliant white cotton-ball clouds which were fluffy enough to serve as God’s regal cushions.  Camel RockAnd, at night, an innumerable host of shimmering stars and their distinct formations were clearly visible in the crystal-clear, wide-open sky.  As much as any other region New Mexico, this area was a splendid example of that which gives the state its appropriate description, the “Land of Enchantment.”

This visual imagery brings to mind two Bible passages.  The first is a declaration by the great apostle Paul, affirming the observation of God’s creative ingenuity in everything we see:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).

The second is a statement by a suffering man named Job, further confirming God’s wondrous creativity and constant miraculous intervention in His Creation:

He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be numbered (Job 9:9,10).

PART I:  GOD, NATURE, and the BIBLE

Part I     Part II     Part III
Table of Contents

God, the Designer

I believe there is no good excuse not to believe in God.  Everything that we see around us in nature points to His Majesty (see “Majesty”: C-6, P-II) and awesome creative ability; God alone is able to create something out of nothing.  “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible” (Heb. 11:3).  Things did not “just happen” on their own without His direction. 

Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross expresses many views concerning God, the universe, and Creation, which I feel help repair the often strained relationship between Christian theology and science.  Appealing to scientists, he scientifically explains that “...the universe is at least ten billion orders of magnitude (1010,000,000,000 times) too small or too young for life to have assembled itself by natural processes.” (1)

There are a number of parameters, defined and analyzed by scientists in recent years, indicating that the fact that life has formed at all in this universe, and that our planet exists in its present form, is not an accident.  It is, rather, by purpose.  In The Fingerprint of God, Ross lists seventeen “coincidences” (2) pointing out that life as we know it is the result of a careful design, rather than a haphazard formation, of the universe.  This “design” requires a Designer to have fine-tuned every detail of the universe.  For instance, if the ratio of the mass of an electron to that of a proton were any less or greater than it is, the necessary molecules of life could not form.  If the universe were expanding at a slightly slower or more rapid rate, stars like our sun could not have assembled, and life would not be possible.  If the mass of the universe were only a little smaller or larger, or if the average distance between stars in our region of the Milky Way Galaxy were slightly less or more, it would have been impossible for any planet like earth to exist.

Ross lists twenty more parameters (3) indicating that, left to chance, we would expect to find no planet capable of supporting life anywhere in the universe!  As examples, if any of the following factors pertaining to a planet and its sun are even slightly different from the factors regarding our earth and our sun, that planet could not support carbon-based life: the planet’s axial tilt in relation to its sun, the planet’s rotation period, its magnetic field, the levels of carbon dioxide and ozone in its atmosphere, the seismic activity on the planet, the distance between the sun and the planet, the sun’s distance from the center of its galaxy, and the sun’s mass and color.  The fact is,

...much fewer than a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all stars will have a planet capable of sustaining advanced life.  Considering that the universe contains only about a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars, we can see that not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life. (4)

Most people do not even realize the importance to our planet of the outer planets in our solar system.  In fact, these larger planets were designed by God, among other things, to deflect or even take direct hits from many comets and asteroids which otherwise might strike the earth. (5)  (Recall that Jupiter was bombarded by numerous fragments of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 Comet July 16-22, 1994—see “Trumpet Judgments”: C-12, P-IV, S-1).  In addition, Jacques Laskar of the Bureau des Longitudes in Paris has stated, “[I]f the outer planets were less regular [in their orbits], then the inner planets’ motion would be so chaotic that...Earth would suffer changes too large in its own orbit to ensure climatic stability on its surface.” (6)

God, the personal Creator

The implication of the previous section is that, beyond a reasonable doubt, a Creator (see “Creator, Sustainer”: C-6, P-III) crafted and shaped the universe and, in particular, the earth—a unique planet on which life (which subsequently would be created) could exist in a suitable environment.

The ancient Jewish prophet Isaiah, who certainly was not a brilliant scientist nor astrophysicist, concurred with the idea that the earth was created specially by God for life:

For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says:  “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:18).

All of this points to a personal God, who has demonstrated great care and concern for His living creatures through an elaborately-drafted and exquisitely-crafted universe.  Who could be more personal and concerned about His Creation than this God, as described by the psalmist?

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do (Psalm 33:13-15).

God not created

God, the all-powerful Creator of everything seen and unseen, is separate and distinct from His Creation.  It is the Lord God who

...created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it (Isa. 42:5).

Furthermore,

This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:  I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God (Isa. 44:6).

Since God existed in eternity past and will exist throughout eternity future, independent of time as we know it (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2), and since there is no other “God” who can create, then God Himself could not have been created.  He always did, does, and always will exist in and of Himself.  Thus, in this sense, a perfect description of Him simply is “I AM” (see “YHWH or Yahweh, the ‘I AM’”: C-2, P-I).  So, while God is the Power (see “Power”: C-6, P-IV) giving life to and governing everything in existence, He Himself is subject to no one because He alone is not a creation.

increase in knowledge

God has allowed us to receive a vast, almost “logarithmic” increase in all types of knowledge in these last days (Dan. 12:4), particularly in the past 50 or so years.  I believe this is because we are the generation of humanity which will witness the unfolding of “end-time” events (see C-11 and C-12).

Within this very recent time period of mankind’s existence on earth, the television, the satellite, and the computer all have been invented—providing for world-wide communication, as well as for the capability of obtaining vital information on almost any one of billions of people, in only moments of time.  People have flown into space and walked on the moon.  We now have sharp, detailed pictures of all the planets (other than Pluto) and many of their moons in our solar system, and we even have seen virtually to the edge of the universe.  We understand how the stars generate power and what basic particles compose an atom.  And the increase in knowledge will continue—limited only by what God permits and enables us to know and discover.

Now, I cannot imagine why God would let us attain such knowledge without its being helpful to us in learning what He is like and in discovering more about His glorious Creation.  After all, Jesus did encourage us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).  A wealth of answers is still locked up in nature; we just have to figure out how to pry them out—with God’s help.

Although refinements still need to be made in dating techniques (for instance, carbon 14 dating is only accurate for objects a few hundred to a few thousand years old, and significant errors are still made), I believe that if we knew “all the answers” through science, we would see that nature completely supports what the Bible teaches (and vice versa).  That there are discrepancies between science and the Bible simply means that our technology has not advanced far enough to be able to observe or discover all that the Bible describes.  (I am not saying that the Bible describes everything in nature, but rather that not all of what the Bible explains has been discovered or observed.)

I feel strongly that God has “spoken” to us through His Creation, so that all we need to do, to see and know what He has done, is to (correctly) observe what He has shown us in nature.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:1-4).

Other examples of God’s “speaking” to us through nature are Job 12:7-9; Psalm 50:6, 97:6; and, as mentioned before, Job 9:9,10; and Rom. 1:20.

nature and the Word of God not contradictory

I do not look upon the Bible itself as being a “god” to be worshiped, something of which I might be incorrectly accused by some.  Rather, I see the Bible as the written Word of our Creator and the method by and through which He has chosen to reveal to us Himself and His great Plan (see “God’s Plan”: C-15, P-I) for mankind and for other creatures, the earth, and universe.

God revealed through the prophet Isaiah,

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say:  My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please (Isa. 46:10).

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching...” (2 Tim. 3:16), and God does not and cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).  Therefore, I feel that there is no contradiction between what we are capable of learning from nature (if our methods are error-free) and what the Bible teaches about what God has done, is doing, and will do—all of which (past, present, and future) are equally important in explaining His great Plan of the ages.  Seeming contradictions must be a result of human ignorance or error in the observation of nature, or else in the interpretation of the Bible.

I believe it is important to note here that there are often enormous errors in dating things in nature:

Although scientists are prepared to stake their credibility on the absolute accuracy for dating volcanic materials of unknown age, it is interesting to note that when the age of formation for volcanic materials is known, huge discrepancies are a certainty.  For example, lava rocks formed in Hawaii in 1800 and 1801 have been dated by radiometric techniques as 160 million to 3 billion years old.  Other volcanic materials dated radiometrically also show erroneous results. Perhaps because of some of these observed inconsistencies, radiometric dating labs, before dating samples, require the researcher to fill out a form which specifies the estimated age for the sample in question.  (7)

scientific confirmation of the Bible

Much information in the Bible, heretofore not known for certain to be factual, is only relatively recently being scientifically confirmed, supporting the validity of God’s Word.  That is, historical evidence is continually “catching up” with the facts in the Bible.  Following are only a few such examples.

Darius the MedeIn the Book of Daniel is mentioned Darius the Mede, a person about 62 years of age, who took the Babylonian Kingdom away from King Belshazzar (Dan. 5:31).  Now, “Darius,” meaning “holder of the scepter,” has been a title of honor for many throughout history.  But, since evidence of a person of Median descent to fit this man’s description had never been found, many have said that the Book of Daniel is not valid historically and could not possibly have been written in the sixth century B.C. as claimed.

Recently, though, archaeological evidence has revealed that a Mede, named Gubaru, born in 601 B.C., was appointed by King Cyrus to be governor of Babylon in 539 B.C.  This made him about age 62 at the time the events in Daniel 6 occurred, and it confirms that he is the person described in this passage. (8)

a spherical earthIsaiah indicated that the earth has a circular shape when viewed from space (Isa. 40:22a).  Although Eratosthenes of Alexandria closely estimated the circumference of the earth in the third century B.C., (9) the fact that the earth was round was not generally accepted until about 2,200 years after Isaiah wrote his words.

whirling windsKing Solomon wrote how winds blow in cyclonic patterns (Eccl. 1:6).  This fact was not confirmed until the late 18th Century by Benjamin Franklin, and only relatively recently has this phenomenon been observable in satellite photos. (10)

the hydrologic cycleElihu (an acquaintance of Job who reprimanded him) described how water evaporates from the oceans, forms into clouds, and drops as rain on the land—the hydrologic cycle (Job 36:27,28).  This cycle was not really understood until Edmund Haley discussed it in the late 17th Century; a mathematical explanation did not arise until the 19th Century.  (10)

Hezekiah’s tunnelThe Bible briefly mentions that King Hezekiah of Judah had a tunnel dug in Jerusalem to bring water into the city (2 Kng. 20:20).  It was not until 1880 that a mere school boy accidentally came upon an engraved plaque at the end of the lost tunnel, describing it.  Archæologists uncovered the tunnel and found it to be 1,700 feet long and cut through solid rock. (10)

oceanic pathwaysKing David of Israel indicated that there are pathways in the seas (Psalm 8:8).  Oceanographer Matthew Maury read this in the Bible and set out to find and explain them, maintaining in 1855 that all water movements except tides were caused by convection.  His subsequent discoveries relating to the great sea currents and trade winds made sailing faster and safer. (10)

astronomical factsSeveral astronomical concepts found in the Bible were not conclusively, indisputably confirmed until this century.  A few examples are that the stars, like the sand on the seashore, are too numerous to count (Gen. 15:5a, 22:17a, 26:4a; Exo. 32:13b; Heb. 11:12); that each star differs from all others in brilliance (1 Cor. 15:41b); and that the earth is suspended in space, not physically connected to anything else (Job 26:7b). (10)

Old and New Testament verification by ancient scrolls:  The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the Qumran caves in Jordan in 1947 and 1952, are Hebrew and Aramaic documents dating from the second century B.C. to about 70 A.D.  They include fragments of all the books of the Old Testament, excluding Esther.  They were released for public scrutiny in September, 1991.  (Remember: in the time of the end, knowledge will be increased—Dan. 12:4.)

New light also has been shed by the scrolls on many historical events which occurred in the first part of the first century A.D.  In fact, there are references to events in the New Testament Gospel accounts written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (see “Dead Sea Scrolls” and “Scrolls #4Q521 and #4Q246”: C-3, P-III).

rediscovery of Mount SinaiBob Cornuke and the late astronaut, James Irwin, uncovered evidence possibly indicating that the true Mount Sinai actually may be in western Saudi Arabia rather than in the eastern Sinai Peninsula, as traditionally believed.  (This would conform to Paul’s indication that Mount Sinai is in Arabia—Gal. 4:25a.)  A thorough, detailed discussion of this was aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s live “Praise the Lord Show,” hosted by Hal Lindsey.  To obtain an audio cassette, one may write to TBN, P. O. Box A, Santa Ana, California 92711-2101; or call (714)832-2950, and ask for tape #1218-91.

Genesis 1 vs. Genesis 2

One major controversy concerning biblical narratives and their explanation of nature is the dispute over the creation accounts put forth in the first and second chapters of Genesis.  There has been much debate as to whether these two chapters are contradictory or complementary.  Some of those with the former view insist that, due to the seeming differences, more than one author is involved, neither of which was aware of what the other wrote.

Traditionally, though, Moses has been taken to be the writer of both accounts.  If so, why do there appear to be differences between the chronologies of chapters one and two?  Upon superficial reading, the following seems to be the order of events of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, with direct comparison easily seen:

Comparison of Genesis 1 & Genesis 2

Genesis 1: Order of Events Genesis 2: Order of Events
1) heavens and earth created 1) heavens and earth created
2) light shines on earth 2) plant life appears
3) light divided from darkness 3) man (male only) created
4) firmament divided 4) animal life created
5) land separated from water 5) woman made from man’s side
6) plant life appears
7) sun, moon, and stars appear
8) animal life created
9) man (male and female) created

There do appear to be differences in the two accounts.  The main difference is that, in the Genesis 1 account, animal life comes into existence (Gen. 1:20-25) before mankind (both male and female) does (1:26,27); whereas, in the Genesis 2 account, it looks as though man was created (2:7) before the animals (2:19a), and after that woman was formed (2:22a).  Why the discrepancy?  Actually, there is none.

The first chapter of Genesis, a chronolog (an account of events in chronological order), is a general overview of the creative activity of God.  It is a sequential sketch or outline.  Other things (for example, dinosaurs) came into being at this time.  But if everything that God made during His creative process had been written down, it no doubt would have taken many volumes to contain it.

On the other hand, the second chapter of Genesis focuses primarily on God’s final (and greatest) creation, mankind, and on mankind’s interaction with God’s other creations.  In Gen. 2:19a, the verb “formed” (or “had formed” in the NIV) is the pluperfect tense of the verb, implying that what follows (that is, “all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air”) already had been formed at some point in the past.  Because Genesis 2 is consistent with and complementary to Genesis 1, we know that the animals were made before Adam was created.  Then the animals were brought to Adam to be named (2:19bc).  However, no suitable helper for Adam could be found among the animals (2:20b); so God placed Adam in a deep sleep, removed one of his ribs (or a part of his side), formed Eve, and brought her to him—and Adam named her “woman” (2:21-23).

Whether one believes in a creative period of six literal 24-hour days or in six “age-days” (see “24-hour days vs. apparent age of Creation” and “‘age-days’ of Creation”: P-II) should make no difference in perceiving Genesis 2 as being an account consistent with Genesis 1.  Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, who believed that God created in six 24-hour days, summed up well their view of the consistency between the two chapters:

The material dealing with the creation in the first two chapters of Genesis should be treated as a unit for a correct understanding of the creation and its theological teachings.  The second account is complementary to the first, dealing more fully with the creation of our first ancestors, while the initial account gives a description of the world which was being fashioned for Adam and Eve to occupy. (11)

A much more detailed explanation is given in a chapter entitled, “Don’t Genesis one and two contain two contradictory accounts of creation?” in McDowell and Stewart’s book, Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask about the Christian Faith. (12)

Similarly, Hugh Ross, who opts for the six “age-days” (billions of years) of creation, states this:

Without question, the description of creation in Genesis 1 is markedly different from that in Genesis 2.  However, an examination of the point of view in each passage clarifies why.  Genesis 1 focuses on the physical events of creation; Genesis 2, on the spiritual events.  More specifically, Genesis 1 describes those miracles God performed to prepare the earth for mankind.  Genesis 2 presents God’s assignment of authority and responsibility.

Careful attention to verb tenses and to the purpose of each account eliminates any supposed contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2.  Plants, rain, man, animals, and woman are subjects of discussion in Genesis 2, but creation chronology is not the issue.  The man (Adam) simply interacts first with the plants, then with the animals, and last of all, with the woman (Eve).  His role with respect to each is delineated. (13)

Misunderstanding of the creation chronicle (Genesis 1) and development (Genesis 2) has prevented many from taking seriously the rest of what the Bible has to say.  By accepting the explanations I have put forth as plausible, hopefully many skeptics will be able to open their minds to consider additional Bible messages and revelations as believable.

reconciling the Bible with nature

A TV program, “Reasons to Believe,” is aired weekly on TBN.  During one show, Dr. Hugh Ross (astronomer, physicist) and Dr. Alex Metherell (physician, engineer) answered many questions posed by audience members.  The questions were a good sampling of those asked by Bible skeptics and non-believers.  Some of the topics discussed were whether or not it rained on the earth before Noah’s flood and whether the flood covered all or only part of the earth, how God “spoke” to Noah and others, whether the six “days” of creation were long or short, if the life spans of hundreds of years for people in the Book of Genesis are realistic, scientific evidence for the existence of Satan and demons, the reality of Jesus’ miracles, tool-making in hominid creatures, the idea of our existence in previous lives, and who has more of a burden of proof concerning God’s existence or non-existence: the believer or the atheist.

It might be worth the time of the interested reader to obtain a catalog of materials on this and other tapes, as well as on subjects pertaining to faith, science, and the Bible, by writing Reasons To Believe, P. O. Box 5978, Pasadena, California 91117, or by calling (818)355-6058.  Their web site location is http://www.reasons.org.

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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D.  Most rights reserved.