The Genesis Controversy
by Henry Morris III, D.Min. *
Genesis is a fascinating book! The timeless narratives it contains have delighted spellbound youngsters since it was written. Scholars have debated the information for centuries—especially the historicity and authenticity of the first 11 chapters. Preachers have wrestled with the implications of the lives of the patriarchs. Countless readers have either gaped in awe at the power of God revealed in its pages or sneered at the idea that any “thinking” person could believe such nonsense.
One fact is clear: Genesis does not leave the reader in neutral.
The historical narratives are, of course, much more than timeless sources of interest, intrigue, and information. These inspired words of Scripture are the foundational “beginnings” of everything that God has undertaken on behalf of humanity. The language is easy to follow, uncomplicated, and rather plain. Compared to other “religious” books, Genesis is an unembellished, chronological record of our world—before there were many historians to record the events. It is indeed a book of beginnings.
Genesis is the basis for a biblical worldview. God verifies, augments, describes, and cites His creative power without alteration throughout the Bible. Anyone who reads the record of Genesis understands what is written. The words and phrases are not at all complex to grasp, but they do require belief—for those words describe and present a Being whose power is limitless and whose knowledge is all-encompassing.
Neither you nor I can experience such a condition, and therefore we must either accept (believe) that there is an all-powerful and all-knowing God, transcendent to the universe, who is the First Cause of all things, or we must reject the existence of such a Being and retreat into our own experience and intelligence. Man, when confronted with that truth, must decide whether he will submit to the Author of that truth or reject both that truth and the Source of that truth—the Creator God. There is no logical middle ground.
There is no “good news” in the evolutionary theory. There is, however, glorious wonder and life-changing power in the gospel presented in the Bible. That message of salvation describes an eternal conversion from a spiritually dead and physically dying existence to spiritual eternal life now and a totally flawless future new heavens and new earth in which those who are so “saved” will become both immortal and holy.
Such a salvation must have power to:
- transform now, in this life (Romans 12:2).
- enrich our current condition (2 Corinthians 9:11).
- bring satisfying peace to all situations (Hebrews 13:20-21).
- change the mortal body into the immortal and everlasting being who will live eternally with the Creator (1 Corinthians 15: 53-54).
This is the good news of the Bible.
While a sizeable portion of Christianity does not endorse any sort of plenary, verbal view of inspiration, we at the Institute for Creation Research insist that the words of Scripture—God’s words—hold sway over the opinions and musings of those who do not believe that God has revealed absolute, unalterable truth.
All conservative evangelical leaders would appear to agree that the biblical context sets the primary stage for meaning and application of the text. All appear to agree that the specific structure of the syntax must be subject to the axiomatic truths of the rest of Scripture. Very few would suggest that God “lies” or “accommodates” His Word in any way to human error, but some would allow for divergent meanings from the apparent rendering of the text (e.g., “day” = “age”). Some would suggest that the words of the text should be interpreted and/or “filtered” by various extra-biblical methods and standards.
Once again, the heart of the issue is authority. Is the Bible trustworthy or not? More importantly, is the Author of the Bible—God—trustworthy or not? If so, then God is supremely and exclusively authoritative on all matters about which He writes.
In other words, if God is the Author of all truth and not untruth, then the very text of Scripture is purposefully and supernaturally inspired and trustworthy, even on matters of science. Man, when faced with truth, must decide whether he will submit to the Author of truth or reject both the truth and the God who insists that His Word is truth. There is no middle ground or compromise.
More particularly, the Christian must decide what constitutes his authority when reading and communicating the truth of Scripture. The Bible or science? The Author of the Bible or the experts in science? Again, there is no neutral position.
Two belief systems or worldviews now stand at the center of reflective and deductive thought. One seeks to understand and explain all things in terms limited to natural phenomena and human interplay. The other finds naturalistic explanations unsatisfactory and searches for answers outside of nature in the supernatural realm. Every one of us is impacted by these central worldviews.
The main proponents of evolutionary naturalism and the associated sociological exponents of that philosophy are atheistic in thinking, if not in practice. Modernism, postmodernism, and the many variations of scientism are united in their opposition to the concept of a transcendent Creator God. The very idea of an omnipotent, omniscient Supreme Being is anathema to naturalistic concepts of existence.
The myriad pantheistic and polytheistic religious and spiritual “isms” of history, as well as the New Age proponents of today, all embrace some concept of the existence of eternal matter with long ages and gradual development of the universe and life. Interestingly, the academic world has begun to entertain “spiritual” interpretations of naturalistic science as the evidence for complexity and design grows more and more obvious. Yet most academics still cling to evolutionary cosmologies because they cannot accept an omnipotent and omniscient Creator.
Such an evolutionary philosophy is in diametric opposition to the revealed text of Scripture. A “god” who would use the cruel, inefficient, wasteful, and death-filled processes of the random, purposeless mechanisms of naturalistic evolution, contrasts so radically with the God described in the pages of the Bible that one wonders how the two characters could ever be thought to be in harmony. Yet, there are many theologians and evangelical scholars who insist that our understanding of the mechanics of creation must accommodate a hybridization of naturalistic science and biblical revelation.
The common denominator among all of these various hybrid systems of interpretation is the elevation of man’s “discoveries” over and above the words of God. The most elemental example of faith is God’s omnipotent and omniscient authority displayed in His creation (Hebrews 11:3). The matrix in which modern science is enmeshed is atheistic, naturalistic evolution. The Bible puts man’s “natural” mind in direct juxtaposition and diametric opposition to the Spirit’s revelation (1 Corinthians 2:14). To insist that the revelation of a supernatural creation must be wedded with a naturalistic and evolutionary god flies in the face of the whole of Scripture (Romans 1:20).
Genesis—the book of beginnings—is the introduction to the omnipotent, omniscient God. Rejecting any of its record will both undermine the understanding of the rest of God’s revelation and also slowly dissolve one’s confidence in the biblical message itself and discourage any thought of establishing or maintaining a relationship with the God of the Bible.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2012. The Genesis Controversy. Acts & Facts. 41 (3): 4-5.