Teaching Genesis and Science to Honor the Creator
How does your understanding of science affect how you teach Genesis? Likewise, how does your understanding of Genesis affect the science that you teach? Do you realize they are intricately linked? In order to get you thinking about the issues related to Genesis and science, consider the statements below.
- There is scientific proof of the existence of hominids (human-like ancestors).
- It has been scientifically proven that the earth is billions of years old.
- The dinosaurs were extinct before Adam and Eve existed.
- Adam and Eve were not literal people.
- The Genesis account is best interpreted as a myth or allegory.
- Creation science is faith-based, while evolution is science-based.
- Noah’s Flood likely covered only the local region.
- Evolutionary theories such as the Big Bang can help clarify Genesis 1.
Maybe you have heard these in church, or in a small group Bible study, or as you have discussed scientific materials with your children.
What do you believe regarding these statements? What do you teach concerning them? Are they true? Are they false? Does it matter? You may be troubled to learn that these statements are actually being made by many Christians. They represent prominent compromise positions that stem from the “re-interpretation” of Genesis through the blurred lens of evolutionary science.
Genesis Under the Microscope
The battle between evolution and creation has been touted as science versus religion. But what role should science, especially evolutionary science, have in the interpretation of Scripture? For centuries, Genesis has obviously been disregarded by those in opposition to God and the Bible. It should not be surprising that Genesis has been under attack by the atheistic, naturalistic, and anti-Christian community. However, this is much more than a scientific debate, since the evolutionary worldview is a religion that rejects God, discredits the Bible, and disregards the gospel message.
Unfortunately, despite evolutionary science’s anti-Christian roots, Genesis has recently been placed under a scientific and theological lens by those within the Christian community. Various compromise theories have been developed that attempt to integrate evolutionary scientific beliefs into the Genesis account in order to accommodate the long ages (billions of years) required by naturalistic science. In doing so, “man’s science” has been elevated over Scripture and the literal interpretation of Genesis, thus changing or rejecting its historical message.
The Cost of Compromise
Are the issues of science and the Bible just a meaningless, insignificant theological debate? Some contend that the Genesis accounts of creation and early human history are not essential doctrines or teachings of Christianity. However, significant scientific and theological consequences emerge when a literal interpretation of Genesis is compromised with the integration of evolutionary science.
Scientifically, reinterpreting Genesis based on evolutionary science guides your scientific beliefs and dictates which path you take in teaching various scientific disciplines. Theologically, theories that reinterpret Genesis in favor of evolutionary science compromise God’s Word, God’s nature, and the gospel message, impacting how you teach Genesis as numerous doctrines are affected, including creation, the origin and uniqueness of man, the Fall, death, sin, and the Flood.
Divergent Scientific Positions
Attempting to reconcile evolutionary science with the Genesis account necessitates scientific beliefs that diverge from those held in the biblical creationist worldview. Compromise theories all hold to the proposed evolutionary timetable, in which billions of years are necessary to accommodate evolutionary processes. This is not scientifically insignificant, because from this position a domino effect of compromises ensues that impacts multiple scientific disciplines, including cosmology, biology, human origins, and geology. Consider how teaching the following scientific disciplines are affected by how you view Genesis under the microscope (whether through the lens of evolutionary science or through a literal interpretation).
Teaching cosmology is affected as creation in six days by a transcendent Creator God who spoke everything into existence out of nothing is replaced by the Big Bang (billions of years).
Teaching biology (the origin of biological life) is affected as the creation of distinct created kinds on Days Five and Six of the creation week is replaced by biological (Darwinian) evolution through random mutations, natural selection, and survival of the fittest over billions of years.
Teaching human origins is affected as the creation of mankind (Adam and Eve) in the image of God on Day Six of the creation week is replaced by hominid evolution in which humanity is merely the highest evolved species.
Teaching geology is affected as the global, catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day is downgraded to a local flood. Compromise theories reject the global nature of the Flood as the geological column and the fossil record are used as “evidence” for the long ages of evolution. However, extensive biblical and scientific evidence attest to a global flood, supporting the contention that the geological column and the fossil record are the result of the global Flood recorded in Genesis.
Why are the Bible and evolutionary science seemingly at odds with one another? Does it have to be either/or? Can it not be both/and? For instance, couldn’t God have used the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution to bring about creation? That is what many contend as they try to integrate evolutionary science into the Genesis account. However, besides the obvious discrepancies in the scientific disciplines, evolutionary science cannot be reconciled with the text of Genesis without significant theological consequences. Positions that reinterpret the Genesis account to incorporate evolutionary science compromise God’s Word, God’s nature, and the gospel message.
The incorporation of evolutionary ideas such as the Big Bang or Darwinian evolution into Genesis as the mechanisms by which God created disregards Genesis as historical narrative. For instance, the evolutionary model of the Big Bang and the creation model in Genesis are completely disparate regarding time (billions of years compared to six days) and the order of creation events. Forcing evolutionary science upon Genesis deems it to be myth or allegory, thus rejecting the authority and infallibility of the biblical text.
The integration of evolutionary science into the pages of Genesis only serves to raise questions about its historicity, raise doubts about its reliability, and deny the absolute authority of the text. If the authority and historicity of Genesis are undermined or placed in doubt, what happens to the many portions of Scripture that are based on Genesis? Evolutionary science is presented as infallible truth, but only God and His Word are infallible. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and the complete biblical message can be accepted in its entirety as infallible and inerrant truth.
Most compromise positions attribute the origins of biological life and humanity to evolutionary processes, whether through naturalistic processes alone or as directed by God. But, could God have used the processes of evolution in His creation? Evolutionary development by definition requires billions of years of chance, chaos, confusion, and death. Evolutionary processes are incompatible and inconsistent with the nature of God (holy, perfect, ordered, and good). God could not have used processes contrary to His nature as He is not the author of death.
Even evolutionists will not compromise to say that God created through evolution. A noted evolutionist astutely stated:
The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain, and horror….[Theistic evolution’s God] is not a loving God who cares about His productions. [He] is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.1
The Gospel Message
Imposing evolutionary science on Genesis corrupts the biblical narrative. The most crucial theological compromise that results from the integration of evolutionary science into Genesis is the issue of death before sin (death before the Fall of Adam and Eve), a devastating theological flaw that compromises the gospel message. Evolutionary processes (Big Bang and the origins of biological life and humanity) are all predicated upon long ages of time and death, requiring that death reigned as a creative force for billions of years before the existence of humanity.
Death before the Fall cannot be reconciled with the gospel message. The biblical message is clear. God created a perfect world (Genesis 1–2). Evil and death are a result of Satan and man’s sin, a result of the Curse/Fall (Genesis 3). Death is an intruder into God’s perfect creation and will be conquered by Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:16; Revelation 21:4-5). If death existed before sin, then death is not the judgment for sin.
Genesis has been placed under a microscope, theologically and scientifically. The issues of science and Genesis are not merely an insignificant theological debate or only relevant for those interested in science. Your view of Genesis relative to evolutionary science dictates how you will teach various scientific disciplines, as well as how you will teach Genesis. The integration of evolutionary science into Genesis compromises God’s Word, God’s nature, and the gospel message. Choose to uphold the authoritative truth and historicity of Genesis, and teach science and Genesis in a manner that honors the Creator.
- Hull, D. L. 1991. The God of the Galápagos. Nature. 352 (6335): 486.
* Dr. Forlow is Associate Science Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Forlow, B. 2011. Genesis Under the Microscope. Acts & Facts. 40 (10): 4-5.