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GOD'S REVELATION IN HIS ROCKS
AND IN HIS WORD
by John N. Clayton
The History of Creation
According to the Bible and the Fossils
It may be helpful to the reader to use the biblical text with the Hebrew words that are listed in Appendix A to follow this discussion. The first verse of Genesis is a creation (bara) verse, not a making (asah) verse. The things created, according to verse 1, are the heaven (shamayim) and the earth. What this means is that everything above and everything below were brought into existence by a miraculous act of God. It is interesting that the Hebrew shamayim, according to Young's Analytical Concordance, has a root that means “heaved up things.” Whatever the understanding of the ancients might have been, today it is clear that the expanding universe fits such a description.
If the shamayim includes everything in the sky, this includes the sun, moon, and the stars. Someone might argue that these objects are described in Genesis 1:14-19, but notice that the word used in these verses is making (asah) not creating (bara). The objects were created in verse 1, the light reached the earth from these objects in verse 3, but you could not establish “signs, seasons, days and years” until verses 14 through 19. Those who argue that bara and asah mean the same thing have to invent a light for verse 3 because they claim the sun and moon came into being in verses 14-19. If we take the account literally and do not compromise the use of these words, we do not have to invent a light for verse 3. Verses 6-7 indicate that a change took place in the waters and indicates that three zones were produced — waters above the earth, water in the earth, and waters below. This is strongly suggestive of our modern understanding of hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere.
Is there any evidence to support the above description? The answer is a strong yes. First of all, we have good evidence that the universe had an explosion or expansion at its beginning that imparted an expansion to it that we see today. The age of our solar system seems to be sequentially as the Bible describes it. There is even a phenomenon that might explain the creating and making of the sun and its light. Those who have travelled in desert areas are familiar with the fact that it frequently is too hot in the desert to rain. Many times, I have seen rain fall in the Grand Canyon or the Mojave and found that it evaporated before it hit the ground. If the earth was hot early in its history (and every indication is that it was) and if it tried to rain, the same thing would happen. Genesis 2:5 tells us that before there were plants and before man existed, “the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth.”
If the water cannot exist on the surface of the earth where will the water be? The only place cool enough for water to exist in a stable form thermodynamically would be the atmosphere. If that volume of water is in the atmosphere, there are heavy clouds and you would not be able to establish “signs, seasons, days, and years.” There is a perfect fit between those few things that the Bible does say and what the evidence shows. This is also true in the sequence of life.
We emphasize the word sequence in this discussion. The chart in Appendix C gives a listing of the words used in the Genesis account and what those words generally apply to. There is also an indication of how many times the words are used. As you look down the list, you will notice that all of the animals described are familiar. The word behemah, for example, always refers to an ungulate and is rendered cattle in most translations. The clearest way to see the accuracy of the sequence that is given in the biblical record is to look at the order Genesis gives. The reader might wish to begin by looking at our discussion of Genesis 1:1-3 on page 19. After these events, verses 6-10 tell us that the physical earth was modified. There is no indication of creation here — only modification. Before life could exist on the earth, there had to be an environment that could support life.
We have already made reference to the division of the waters vertically. There is also a reference to the division of waters horizontally. Verses 9 –10 tell us that land and water were separated, and that the water was in one place and the dry land was in another. Every geological evidence we have indicates that this is true. The current situation of many bodies of water and many land masses is the result of change. A casual look at the edges of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the range of mountains in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, shows them all to be roughly parallel. If you take a pair of scissors and cut all of the land masses out along their continental shelves, you can actually fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Rocks on opposing shorelines usually match, and measurements from space and on the earth tell us that they are still moving today. (The reader may feel that Genesis 10:25 describes this process too, but it is our persuasion that this refers to the division of the languages — not the division of the land masses.)
The Bible then tells us about the sequence of the formation of plants. The first living thing we are told was grass. The Hebrew here is deshe and the word literally means tender grass. This is not the grass you mow with your lawnmower; that word is chatsir. Tender grass is described as being easily broken. The second plant material produced in the sequence is the herb from the word eseb. A former student of mine who is Jewish tells me that, in his understanding, this word referred to a plant without hard seeds — a spore bearing plant, for example. That cannot be proven, but it is a different thing than the “tree yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself.” This is a clear reference to an angiosperm — a tree with fruit and seed — not a fern or moss. It seems that there are three kinds of plants given in the biblical sequence — the tender grass, the herb, and the flowering tree with fruit in itself. I am sure that any student of botany reading this paragraph has recognized the process of succession.
This sequence is something that God has created and used over and over in the history of this planet, and it still takes place today. My brothers and I own a fishing camp in Canada. Many years ago there was a terrible forest fire that burned the area right down to bed rock so that not a blade of grass nor a crumb of organic material remained. The area has recovered over the years. The first several years, there were mosses and lichens that covered the rocks in some of the shaded places. These simple plants certainly fit the description of “tender grass.” In one place the moss grew so thick that, when you walked on it, you sank deep into it; and you could lie down on it and it would seem like a thick soft mattress. Eventually we began to see a few ferns, some conifers and horsetail beginning to grow in places where the mosses and lichens had accumulated enough organic material to enable the gymnosperms to grow. These certainly fit the definition of herb given in the Bible. In just the last few years, we have seen aspen, oaks, and birch trees starting to grow where the gymnosperms have established a base for them. This succession is in exact accord with what happened in the primitive earth, and it continues to take place today.
The sequence of the Bible continues to flow in exact accordance with the evidence seen in the fossils. Animal life begins in water, and in the Genesis account, the Hebrew suggest a wide range of swarming creatures began in the sea, The fossil record confirms this with every phylum of life known to man being found in the earliest rocks — even backboned animals, seen in the graptolite (an index fossil for the Cambrian period), the acorn worm, the lancelot, and other forms.
We also see other examples of the sequence accuracy of the Bible in other forms. According to the Bible, the first warm-blooded creatures were the birds. In the fossil record, we see the archeopteryx, protoavis, and several finds recently in China backing the biblical statement. Mammals are described next, with man being the last thing to be described in the Bible. The biblical sequence agrees with the fossil sequence; and since the Bible is not attempting to give us the time of these events, we can only be impressed with its accuracy and integrity. It is interesting that evolutionary models come and go, with one of the more recent of these being punctuated equilibrium. Yet with all of this change in scientific theories, the Bible from the beginning has given a model that still stands as credible with all available scientific evidence.
When I was an atheist, I was in the process of writing a book titled All the Stupidity of the Bible. I taught myself Hebrew, went back to Genesis 1:1 in the original manuscripts, and attempted to show that the biblical account was pure garbage. What I ran into were the kinds of things that we have discussed. I finally gave up after almost seven years of trying to prove the Bible wrong, and decided that the Bible was credible and that I needed to look into what being a Christian was all about. I would recommend that same step to you.
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©1998, 2015 by John N. Clayton. All rights reserved.