Understand Genesis Chapter 1 and 2

Genesis chapters 1 and 2

Genesis chapter one gives us a brief chronological order of the creation week. Genesis chapter two is a more detailed look into the sixth day. It is not two separate creation accounts.

Genesis like the rest of the Old testament was originally written in biblical Hebrew. Therefore we are going to look at this as a piece of Hebrew literacy. Like any form of communication we need to look at what the original author intended.

There are some Christians that say this is poetry and figurative and therefore not literal history. Recently I have heard teaching that Genesis chapter one is a Hebrew hymn. However when we look at the Hebrew language and the Hebrew verbs used, it is more inline with Hebrew historic narrative rather than poetry. In Genesis 1 the first verb bara (create) is perfect while the following verbs are imperfect.

Hebrew poetry uses what is called parallelisms which we can see many examples of in poetry books of the bible such as Psalms. This is where the lines of two or more verses are directly related to each other. An example of this is Psalm 19 : 1 – 2, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge”. The second line repeats the first having the same meaning but in different words. However this is rarely found in Genesis 1 – 11. Meaning that the book of Genesis was written as historic narrative and not as poetry.

Genesis Chapter one starts of saying “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

If you look at the chapter as a whole, it is clear that we are talking about six literal days. That’s six 24 hour days. We are told that the first day God created the heavens, earth. That it was created in darkness and god created the light. God divided the darkness and the light. He called the light day and the darkness night. The first day is concluded with evening and morning, the first day. This is repeated for the remaining six days.

The Hebrew word for day is “Yom”. Just like the english word day, Yom has many meanings. For example where going on holiday in 7 days times. This means 7 24 hour days. But if I said back in my day we didn’t have computers. In this context the word day doesn’t mean a literal 24 hour day. Context defines meaning. So let’s look at the hebrew word Yom in its context and see if we can define its meaning.

The word Yom appears in the old testament about 2303 times.

Outside of Genesis chapter one the word yom appears with a number 359 times and always means a literal day. It appears 23 times with evening or morning and always means a literal day. It appears with the word night 53 times and always means a literal day. So when does the word yom mean a literal 24 hours? When it appears with a number, evening, morning or night.

Now let’s look at Genesis chapter one:

  • Genesis 1 : 5 evening, morning, number day.

  • Genesis 1 : 8, evening, morning, number day.

  • Genesis 1 : 13 evening, morning, number day.

  • Genesis 1 : 19 evening, morning, number day.

  • Genesis 1 : 23 evening, morning, number day.

  • Genesis 1 : 31 evening, morning, number day.

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” (Hebrew 11: 30,NIV)

We wouldn’t try to argue that the army marched around the wall for thousands of years because it is obviously it is referring to seven 24 hour days.

When we read the Genesis account naturally with the separation of morning and evening and numbered days it is always obvious it is referring to 6 literal 24 hour days.

Some people say how can you have a day if the sun wasn’t made until day four. Scientifical a day is based upon the rotation of the earth. So to have a day we need a rotating earth and a light source to give us morning and evening. Genesis 1 : 3 Then God said. “let there be light” and there was light”. So God created a light before the Sun. Revelation 21:23 says “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it for the glory of God illuminated it. The lamb is its light”. This verse tells us that when the new heaven and new earth is created the sun will not be needed.

The only reason to not take Genesis literally is to fit the evolutionary worldview of billions of years into the bible. However I would challenges us not to bring outside ideas into the bible but shape our worldview from the bible.

What is Science

The word science basically means knowledge. There are two types of knowledge, observational knowledge and historical knowledge.

Observational science (knowledge) is sometimes referred to as operational or mechanical science. This is science that we can directly observe. This is how we build our technology and develop medicines. This science uses the scientific method of observe, test and repeat.

All scientists have the same observational science. This is how creationist scientist Raymond Vahan Damadian was able to invent the first MRI scanner. The notion that creation scientist cannot do good science is simply wrong.

The mere fact that we are able to do observational science and repeat experiments and expect to get the same results shows that the universe is logical and orderly. This only makes sense if a creator made it that way. You cannot get order from no order. If you came across a filing cabinet with its files in alphabetical order you would not assume that the filing cabinet ordered the files itself, instead that someone must have ordered them.

Colossians 1 : 17 “And he is before all things, and in him all things consist”.

Historical science is knowledge about past events. Historical science is also referred to as origins science. We can not apply the scientific method to historical science since we don’t have direct access to the past. We can not observe or repeat the past. However our historical science affects how we interpret our observational science.

To helps us to understand the difference between observable and historic science let’s use the Millennium dome as an example.

  1. The Millennium dome is largest of its type in the world
  2. Built in London uk
  3. Was built to house the Millennium experience exhibition at the beginning of the third millennium.

All three facts about the Millennium dome are true but how do we known, how can we test them. We can use observational science and go to London uk and see the dome there. We can also measure the dome and compare that measurement to other domes of its type around the world. However that’s all we can verify using observational science. How do we then known is was built to house the Millennium experience exhibition at the turn of the third millennium. For this we have to use historical science and look at historical records.

However the distinctions between observational and historical science are not explained in the public schools but both are taught as scientific fact.

When it comes to the origins of the universe you can either base your historical science on man’s word, for example big bang theory, Darwin’s origins of species or God’s word. Man’s word is based upon man’s own opinion and the philosophy of naturalism, which is the religion of Atheism. Naturalism is different to the christian view of the uniformity of nature. Conditions change but natural laws stay the same. God’s word is written by man but inspired by God. Inspired by the creator of the universe, the only eye witness and he tell us how he made it in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.

Lets look at another example and have a look at the age of the earth issue. Man’s word says that the universe is about 15 billion years old. However the bible says that God created the universe in six days. That he created mankind on the sixth day. When we track back through the genealogies of the bible we get an age of about 6,000 years old.

You are probably thinking that we known the age of the universe is about 15 billion years old due to dating methods. However most don’t realize that all dating methods use both observational and historical science. We will now take a look specifically at radiometric dating, as this is the most common dating method to support billions of years. Radiometric dating analysis the elements in the fossil or rock. Now they are parent elements and daughter elements. Over time parent elements radioactively decay into the daughter elements. For example uranium with radioactively decay into lead and potassium will radioactively decay into argon. They analyse the chemical elements and the amount of parent and daughter elements. They then using the current decay rates to calculate the age. However they have to make the following assumptions:

  1. They have to assume the starting conditions. That when it was formed they were only parent elements.
  2. They have to assume that all the daughter elements present came about through the process of radioactive decay and hasn’t been contaminated since.
  3. They have to assume that the decay rates have always been constant.

When it comes to observational evidence for a young earth we only need to take a look at the moon. The moon acts as a tidal bulge on the earth that causes the moon to spiral outwardly very slowly. This would cause the moon to be closer to the earth in the past. If the earth is only 6,000 years old then the moon has only moved 800 foot. However if the moon and the earth is older in just 1.5 billion years ago the moon would of been touching the earth.

Worldview Debate

The Worldview Debate


A  worldview is a network of presuppositions that we use to make sense of the world around us.  We use our worldview as a filter to interpret our experiences and evidence. So our worldview is our starting point.  


This leads us to the question what is a presupposition?  A presupposition in short are our very basic beliefs about reality.  They form our interpretation philosophy from the outset before any investigation of evidence.  We must always have presuppositions before we can analyse any evidence.


Some people might say that they look at evidence from a non bios view and form their conclusions from the evidence alone.  This philosophy is a presupposition in itself as its a rule of how to interpret the evidence.


Some basic presuppositions are that our senses in the most part are reliable.  What we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell can be trusted. That our memories the majority of the time can be trusted.  


As christians if we truly believe the Bible to be the inspired words of God.  Inspired by an eternal God that exists outside of time and that he created the universe, is a holy and perfect God, is truth, his word is true, then the Bible should be our authority.  As Christians this should be one of our basic presuppositions and ultimate presupposition. Therefore we should not compromise on it nor should we omit it from our apologetic answers.


The challenge facing Christians today is to not bring a worldview to the Bible but to form a worldview from the Bible.  After all it is our ultimate presupposition. When it comes to the origins of creation there is only two choices fallible man’s own thoughts and theories or God’s word.  Let’s think how God thinks and sees the world through his eyes.


Psalm 19 : 7 – 9 says “ The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether”.


None Christians and some Christians would argue that in debates we shouldn’t use the Bible.  However if you do this then you are handing victory to your opponent because you are abandoning your worldview.  This is then forcing you to adopt the worldview of your opponent. There is no such thing as neutral ground.


Matthew 12 : 30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad”.


Evidence alone will not solve a worldview debate.  As we interpret that evidence through the lens of our worldview.  This is why as a Christian I look at the universe with its trillions of stars and wonder in amazement how creative God is.  However an atheist might look at the universe and be amazed at what can come about through chance and random processes. We are both looking at the same universe (evidence) but through our individual worldviews and can come to different conclusions.  This does not mean that we can not use evidence but we need to be carefully about how we use it.



The Bible – God’s Word

Our view of the Bible is foundational to the rest of our beliefs. 


Christians believe that the bible was inspired by God.  However what do we mean by  the inspiration of God? It is vital that we define our terms and do so biblical.


2 Peter 1 : 21 “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”.  God inspired man to write his word without violating their personalities through the holy spirit. Therefore our bibles are God’s word written by man.  Man was the instrument God used to record his word. Since God inspired man to write the bible, the bible contains no mistakes or contradictions. Any mistakes we think are in the bible are our mistakes.  


Psalm 19 : 7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;” Since the bible is God’s word and it’s impossible for God to lie (see numbers 23 : 19, Hebrews 6 : 18) then the bible is true in everything it proclaims.


2 Timothy 3 : 16 – 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”  The bible alone is everything we need.


Theologians refer to these as the inspired words of God, the inerrant, infallibility and sufficiency of the bible.  The authors were not inspired like a artist is inspired to paint a painting. Instead holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the holy spirit.  The Greek term used means God Breathed.