Home > apologetics, creationism, interpretation > >Who and why not how and when. Really?

>Who and why not how and when. Really?

>A comment so frequent it would be difficult to attribute a source is:

Genesis 1 tells the creation story in terms of who and why not how and when.

Like many cliches it sounds pithy but on closer inspection lacks substance. The statement is analysing the first chapter of the Bible from the viewpoint of who, why, how and when. It is useful to read the chapter with these questions in mind.

The repeated use of the word God thru out the chapter certainly supports the observation that Genesis 1 tells us who created.

What about the “why”? I can see very little in the first chapter that tells us why God created the universe. That he did, yes; but his motivation for doing so, no. We are informed that the stellar objects are for light and time keeping and the vegetation is for food; so there is a “why” for creation in terms of man’s relationship with them, but the reason for making man? In fact it is difficult to find much in the Bible that tells us why God created us. A explanation would be that he is love and created creatures, including man, to offer love as a gift. While that is likely true, it is an indirect teaching of Scripture and is not obvious in Genesis 1.

Does Genesis 1 tell us how God created? Only in a limited form. That all started from the deep (water) and hence possibly some creations were made from water; that space was created by separating the waters; in terms of land and seas being gathered together which may have some implications for geology. Genesis 2 gives information on the “how” of man. Male was made from dust and God’s breath, which may have some theological implications but less certain scientific ones; and female from male, again for theological reasons: in order to teach us about marriage. While some “how” information may be garnered from the chapter, it is not a primary teaching.

Which leaves the “when”. The term “when” in the phrase above is used to mean that Genesis 1 does not give us chronological information. So strictly the “when” is not given in the first chapter, it is from later chapters in Genesis and elsewhere in Scripture. But that Genesis 1 gives chronological information is certain. The chapter repeatedly uses statements that give a chronological flow.

Therefore if someone subscribes to a hermeneutic that doesn’t agree with Genesis 1 describing 6 literal days, it is unreasonable to disparage those who think it does.

So the quote may be better rephrased:

Genesis 1 tells the creation story in terms of who and when but gives little information on how and why.

  1. 2007 September 15 at 11:10

    Good stuff!
    This has made me think, which will undoubtedly lead me to deeper study…thanks!

  2. 2007 September 15 at 23:26

    In fact it is difficult to find much in the Bible that tells us why God created us.
    I remember wondering about that very question as a child. I still don’t entirely understand it.
    Therefore if someone subscribes to a hermeneutic that doesn’t agree with Genesis 1 describing 6 literal days, it is unreasonable to disparage those who think it does.
    I don’t have a problem with literal days in Genesis 1. As I’ve indicated before, I’m just not certain what a literal day is in the absense of the sun and moon.

  3. 2007 September 16 at 03:46

    duckman1957, I have posted on why I think the days are literal.
    Many years ago I was told that because the sun and moon were made on day 4 the days could have been a long period. I held to this belief for a time. The problem is that nothing is really solved, if the first 3 days were long periods they don’t match the secular sequences which have dinosaurs and sea creatures long before trees and grasses. Not to mention the sun and stars and moon which supposedly were in existence long before the plants.
    Given that the day is a period of daylight followed by darkness, if these first 3 “days” were longer than days, one needs to have prolonged periods of light.
    To have daylight all one needs is a source of light. To have a day of daylight and darkness the source needs to circle the earth, or the earth rotate, or the source turns on and off.
    People claim the Genesis was written as a polemic against sun/ moon worship. However given that God knows everything his timing of the creation of the sun may have been to give further reason for fallen man not to worship a creation.

  4. 2007 September 16 at 21:45

    I’m not trying to match secular sequences. I’m trying to follow the Word. (BTW, I’m not sure that plants could have not have pre-dated the sun. A period of darkness and a period of light. That’s a day. Where is the light from? We don’t seem to be told that. That’s true in my interpretation. That’s true in your interpretation. I do know that the conventional secular teaching is that the earth and other planets were here before the sun. The only dispute with the secularists I even hope to resolve with my interpretation [and that’s not why I use this interpretation] is the age of the universe and the stars.) I don’t know where the light came from and why there were periods of light and darkness. I just believe that this is all Genesis is telling us about the days. And I don’t see it telling us how long the first few days were. I don’t wish to add or subtract from God’s Word. I just want to understand what it says.

  5. 2007 September 17 at 09:15

    duckman1957, I am having a little trouble following what you are trying to say.
    Biblical order is light, heavens (no stars or planets), plants, sun/ moon/ stars (including planets).
    Secular order is heavens, stars, sun, earth/ planets.
    Days 4 thru 6 are ~24 hour days. What specifically suggests to you that Genesis is saying days 1-3 are longer than 24 hours, and what benefit would that have.
    How could plants that use insects to pollinate exist prior to their likely creation later?
    How would our understanding of days 1-3 be any different to what we experience as days? especially as day 1 is suggestive of a definition of “day.”
    I am happy to speculate further to what we have. Humphreys speculates that day 2 is incomplete (no “God saw that it was good”) and that the stars began their formation at that stage. The comment about God making the stars would be seen as an aside. He also speculates on time dilation such that day 2 thru 4, while being 24 hours on Earth, may have been much longer in space. But the time as viewed from Earth seems fixed by Scripture.

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