Tag Archives: Creation

Does Genesis 2 Contradict Genesis 1?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

A common misunderstanding of the Book of Genesis is how chapters 1 and 2 are related.  Specifically, chapter 1 claims that land animals were created before Adam (see Gen. 1:24-26), but chapter 2 seems to claim that Adam was created before land animals (see Gen. 2:19).  Is it possible that these two creation accounts are contradictory?

The alleged contradiction is refuted when we look more closely at Gen. 2:19.  The NIV translates the verse, “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”

Notice that the verse says that God had formed the animals, meaning that the animals were already formed before Adam.  So the contradiction evaporates.

Some translations (e.g., NAS), however, don’t translate the word had, but leave it out (either translation of the verse from Hebrew to English is permissible).  Does this make it a contradiction?

No, not really.  When we look at the focus of chapter 1, it seems to be on the order of creation, but the focus of the passages surrounding Gen. 2:19 is on the naming of animals and the creation of Eve.

According to Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe,

Genesis 1 gives the order of events; Genesis 2 provides more content about them. Genesis 2 does not contradict chapter 1, since it does not affirm exactly when God created the animals. He simply says He brought the animals (which He had previously created) to Adam so that he might name them. The focus in chapter 2 is on the naming of the animals, not on creating them. Genesis 1 provides the outline of events, and chapter 2 gives details. Taken together, the two chapters provide a harmonious and more complete picture of the creation events.

A footnote in The Apologetics Study Bible explains:

Chapter 2 is a second creation account only in the sense that it gives a more detailed accounting, not a contradictory one.  While chapter 1 provides a general description, chapter 2 is specific.  Twofold accounts were common in ancient theories of creation (e.g., the Babylonian story of Atrahasis).  The differences in the order of the creation events are due to the narratives’ respective purposes.  The first gives a loosely chronological account, gathering creation events into a discernible pattern to show the symmetry of creation’s purpose.  The second is topical, focusing on the sixth day by expanding on the creation and the relationship of the man and the woman.  Genesis 2 presupposes chapter 1 and does not duplicate all the creation events.

So Genesis 2 does not contradict Genesis 1 at all, once we see the different purposes for the two different creation narratives.  In fact, they are complementary to each other, with Genesis 2 filling in details from the creation account of Genesis 1.

How Old Do You Think the Earth Is?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I consider the age of the earth to be a secondary issue among Christians (not something to divide over), but I am curious about what the readers of this blog think about it.  If you have not answered the poll question on the home page of Tough Questions Answered, please drop by and vote.   The poll is located on the right side of the home page, in the sidebar area.

God bless,


Americans are Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Poll results like these demonstrate the failure of proponents of Darwinian evolution to provide persuasive scientific evidence for their viewpoint.  Worse than that, the attempt to squash the intelligent design movement is seemingly back-firing.  Americans overwhelmingly support academic freedom on the issue of the origins and development of life.

It is time for Darwinists to quit saying “Evolution is a fact” and actually provide some compelling scientific evidence that supports the position that random mutations and natural selection are the engines that drove the development of all life on earth.

zogby graph 6-30-09

Was There Death Before Adam?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

One of the most popular arguments from young earth creationists (YEC’s) that the “days” of Genesis must be 24-hour days is that if the “days” represent long periods of time (millions or billions of years), then there must have been animal death before the Fall of Adam and Eve.  According to YEC’s, there could not have been any death before the Fall.  Because of this, they argue that old earth creationists (OEC’s), who believe the earth is 4 1/2 billion years old, must be incorrect.  An old earth would necessitate animal death before Adam and Eve’s Fall.

For many years, I heard this argument and just assumed that there must be some passages in the Bible that plainly state that there was a complete absence of death before the Fall.  I never bothered to look for myself.  Then, a couple years ago, I decided to actually look up the verses that are cited to show that there was no death before the Fall.  The two most common are Rom. 5:12 and 1 Cor. 15:20-22.

“Therefore, 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)

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20-22)

Now, if you just read these two passages without ever having been told what they mean, it seems to me that they are clearly speaking of human death, not death of animals.  In fact, if you read these verses in context with the surrounding verses, you can easily see that the text is speaking of human sin and human death.  I cannot imagine how someone can interpret these verses to be talking about general animal death.  Animals cannot sin and animals are not redeemed by Christ, but that is exactly what these passages are referring to.  If you don’t believe me, go read the passages in context.  See for yourself.

If YEC’s want to prove that there was no animal death (OEC’s agree there was no human death) before the Fall, then they need to point to some other passages in Scripture.  Rom. 5:12 and 1 Cor. 15:20-22 just do not make their case at all.

Are Scientists Persuaded by Evidence for a Young Earth?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Young earth creation organizations have written many books and published numerous articles over the years presenting scientific evidence to prove that the earth is young (6,000 – 10,000 years old).  Several years ago, when I read these books and articles, I found many of them to be convincing.

But, I wanted to hear both sides so I started reading opposing viewpoints from scientists who believe the earth is older (4.5 billion years old).  Inevitably, these other organizations who believed in an old earth countered and refuted virtually all of the young earth arguments.  Now, this wasn’t surprising, and you could always go back to the young earth side to find refutations of refutations, and so on.

Although I have a degree in electrical engineering, I am not an expert in radiometric dating, geology, astronomy, astrophysics, or any earth sciences.  But what I found is that the virtual unanimous consensus of all branches of science that study the age of the earth and universe agreed that the earth is old.  This included Christians and non-Christians.

I realize that truth is not determined by a vote, but to have so many different disciplines agree on the age of the earth is something to think about.  But I still figured that maybe they were all wrong, until I heard something that surprised me.

If the scientific arguments of young earth creationists were truly persuasive, then they should have convinced at least some scientists, apart from the Bible, of their viewpoint.  After all, scientists will eventually listen to presentations of strong evidence.  But according to young earth creationists, no scientist, as far as they know, has ever been convinced of a young earth by scientific evidence alone.

According to Dr. John Ankerberg, who was a young earth creationist earlier in life:

When I was arguing for the young earth view in the early years of our television ministry, I remember when my friend Dr. John Morris, the President of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and one of the world’s largest young earth organizations, was being interviewed on KKLA radio in Los Angeles. He was asked, “Had he or any of his associates ever met or heard of a scientist who became persuaded that the universe or earth is only thousands of years old, based on scientific evidence without a reference to a particular interpretation of the Bible?” Morris’ answer was no, he had not.

Ankerberg continues:

Later, Duane Gish, also of ICR, was asked the same question. I was interested in his answer as I had invited Dr. Gish to be my guest in the very first debate I held on science and the Bible. I had arranged for him to debate Dr. Vincent Sarich, who was the Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Berkeley and an evolutionist. When Dr. Gish was asked if he knew of any scientist who had ever been persuaded by the scientific evidence that the universe or the earth was 6,000 years old, he also said no.

My conclusion from these statements is that the scientific evidence for a young earth is significantly weaker than that for an old earth and that the refutations of the young earth evidence by old earthers is probably more trustworthy.

It seems that unless you start with a 24-hour interpretation of the “days” in Genesis, an interpretation that is highly disputed among conservative evangelicals and other conservative Christians, you will not arrive at the young earth position by studying science alone.

The science just does not back up the young earth position, and until young earthers are able to convince scientists based on scientific arguments alone, their position will remain less convincing to me.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 5

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

In this series of posts, we are looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word yom as it is used in the first chapter of Genesis.  Does yom refer to a 24-hour day or to a long period of time?

Today we will review two final arguments from young earth creationists who assert that the 24-hour “day” is the correct interpretation of Genesis 1.  Again, we will use material from Norman Geisler’s systematic theology, volume 2.

First, young earth creationists accuse old earth creationists of actively supporting Darwinian evolution by interpreting long periods of time in Genesis.

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.

This is an important argument that persuades many Christians, so how would old earth creationists respond?

 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 (CG, 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.

The truth is that old earth creationists challenge the ideas of Darwinian evolution just as much as young earth creationists.  Neither group believes that evolution, alone, can explain how all of the diverse plant and animal species arrived on earth.  Both sides believe that evolution can explain limited change within species, but above the species level the evidence thins out rapidly.

Here is one final argument for the 24-hour “day” view.

Mark 10:6 affirms that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning.  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.

The response is fairly straightforward:

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 of marriage.”
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.

Thus concludes an introduction to some of the most popular young earth arguments and responses to them.  In future posts, we will look at further lines of evidence from the old earth creation side.  There is much more to be said about the old earth view, and considering that this view is rarely heard within the evangelical community, we should study them here.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 4

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In this series of posts, we are looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word yom as it is used in the first chapter of Genesis.  Does yom refer to a 24-hour day or to a long period of time?

Today we will review two more arguments that young earth creationists make and the responses to these arguments by old earth creationists.  Again, we will use material from Norman Geisler’s systematic theology, volume 2.

Young earth creationists argue that plants and animals must exist at the same time because they rely on each other for survival.

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 of time.

This is more of a scientific argument than a biblical argument, but it is still worth reviewing in this series.  How would old earth creationists respond to this argument?  Can plants live without animals for a long period of time?

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 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 duration.

Another common argument made by young earth creationists is that there was no death before Adam.  I, myself, have heard this argument many times used by friends of mine.  Here is how it works:

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).

But does the Bible really say this?  I asked one commenter, who posted on our blog, this very question, but I never received a response.  Here is why:

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.

The Bible does not, in fact, say that there was no death before Adam’s sin.  This argument just does not work.

In our next post, we will look at the final two young earth arguments.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 3

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Today we continue looking at arguments for a 24-hour view of the “days” in Genesis and arguments for a longer period of time.  Again, we will be using Norm Geisler’s treatment of the issue.

A seemingly persuasive argument for the 24-hour view is the comparison in Exodus 20:11 of the six-day work week to the six “days” of creation.  Here is the argument briefly stated:

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 in 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.

Dr. Geisler addresses this argument in the following way:

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 into 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).

The next argument for 24-hour “days” in Genesis has to do with the creation of light on the fourth day.

Young-earthers claim that according to Genesis 1, light was not made until the fourth day (v. 14), but there was life on the third day (v. 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.

As Dr. Geisler points out, there are several possible responses to this argument:

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 the beginning.

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.

An additional point can be made about the fourth day.  According to young-earth creationists, the sun was not created until the fourth day, but there could be no 24-hour solar days for the first three “days” of Genesis without the sun.  After all, the sun is what gives the earth a 24-hour cycle.  Without the sun, it seems nonsensical to call the first three “days” solar days.

As we look at each of the arguments for 24-hour “days” in Genesis, they may seem convincing at first.  After reading the responses to these arguments, they are not as persuasive.  As I said in an earlier post, interpreting these verses in Genesis is not easy, but we should still keep trying to find the truth, even if it is difficult.  There are still a few more common arguments made by young-earth creationists that we need to review.  We will do that next.

What is the Meaning of the Word “Day” in Genesis? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

In the first post in this series, we introduced the topic of “days” in Genesis, but there are more arguments that need to be fleshed out.  We will continue using Norman Geisler’s treatment of this subject in his second volume of systematic theology.

Young-earth creationists point out that when numbered series are used in the Old Testament in combination with the Hebrew word yom, they are always referring to a 24-hour day.  Here is the argument:

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.

How do opponents of the young-earth view reply?

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 rest of 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.

A further argument of young-earth creationists has to do with the fact that the phrase “evening and morning” is used in conjunction with “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 twenty-four-hour-days.

Here is the reply that is given to that argument:

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, 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” (cf. v. 26) 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).

There are several more arguments to be reviewed, so stick around.

My Views On the Age of the Earth

Over the past several years, I have moved from believing in a young earth (6,000-10,000 years) to an older earth (4.5 billion years).  I wouldn’t say that I’m totally convinced, but I do think that the biblical and scientific evidence is much stronger for an old earth.  This position, unfortunately, alienates me from some of my evangelical brothers and sisters, but I cannot claim to believe something that I don’t believe any more.

For those who wonder about my views on the Bible, I am a strong believer in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible.  I am not, however, convinced that every human interpretation of the Bible is infallible.  We make mistakes and sometimes misinterpret.  Some passages in the Bible are more difficult to interpret than others.  I believe that correct interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis is not obvious.  Intelligent and conservative Christians disagree on the meaning of these passages. 

In addition, I affirm the historical-grammatical method of Bible interpretation.  I believe that we should read the Bible as the original author intended it to be understood in the historical context within which he wrote.

The issue of interpreting the “days” of Genesis is a fascinating and important issue, but it is not one of the essentials of the faith.  The age of the the earth is not a test for orthodoxy and there are several literal views  of the “days” in Genesis.

Consider this post to be an introduction to several more posts on the age of the earth.  It is my fervent prayer that we will have fruitful and respectful conversations about these issues.  As always, I will welcome comments from all sides.  I look forward to the discussion and I hope I can learn along with everyone else.