The following two articles have been written to address concerns that brethren have expressed regarding the current debate about theistic evolution, science, creation and Bible teaching. This has generated questions and uncertainty; it has troubled some who have always believed the plain, natural reading of the Genesis record of creation, as well as challenging the true teachings of the Bible summarised in our Statement of Faith, The Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF). [Editor]

There has been much written of late on the subject of creation and evolution, so much so that many have been confused and troubled by the complexity of the ideas put forth and the apparent rejection of the Bible’s account of creation. At the outset let us make it clear that the thoughts expressed in these articles are of a general nature and are not directed at any particular brother’s views.

This article is not concerned about this complexity of ideas and arguments based upon modern scientific findings. ‘Science’ means knowledge but we have all lived long enough to know that whilst science has discovered many things and brought many useful advances to modern life, yet it has also changed its assertions on a host of matters from the smallest atoms to the largest constellation. So the Scripture is confirmed: “No man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:11).

When therefore there is apparent contradiction between the Word of God and the word of man, Bible believers will have no question in their minds as to where they should look and in Whom they will trust: if there are ‘two books’, the Bible should take pre-eminence in points of apparent controversy.

“The earth was”

The Bible does not tell us the age of the earth but it does make it plain that it existed before the creation of Adam and Eve. The second verse of Genesis says, “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” This simply means that the earth and its vast ocean waters did exist before the six days of creation, but without the order that came with the operation of God in those six days.

This has been Christadelphian teaching since Brother Thomas wrote Elpis Israel and allows for geological and biological artefacts that would seem to be much older than 6000 years. “This view of the matter”, Brother Thomas wisely concludes, “will remove a host of difficulties, which have hitherto disturbed the harmony between the conclusion of geologists and the Mosaic account of the physical constitution of our globe.” (Elpis Israel, page 1).

The creation record

A simple reading of Genesis 1 provides us with the biblical account of creation. We are told very little in Scripture about what happened or could have happened upon the earth before, but the record is very deliberate and specific in what it does say about the creation.

There is a week of seven days, the first six being of great activity and the seventh being a day of “sabbath” or rest. Each day is clearly defined as an evening-morning period and designated with a number, as “the evening and the morning were the first day.” This sentence is repeated in verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31. In fact it is stressed as if to eliminate speculation on the subject.

This description continues through the fourth day where sun, moon and stars were specifically appointed to divide the day from the night. A “day” under their direction is 24 hours. Therefore the three “days” before this one are understood as 24 hour days.

Adam lived through the seventh day so it would be unreasonable to measure this day in more than human terms (2:1–3), and since the day is contextu ally linked with the previous six days the rational conclusion is that they were all the same time period as the 24 hours.

The manner of creation

That God would use His Spirit, His creative power to bring order out of chaos is indicated by the statement that prefaces the creation record, “And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The creative power of the Spirit of God is emphasised by use of the same form of words for each day, namely

“And God said, “Let there be …”

“And it was so”

“God saw that it was good”

“And the evening and the morning were the … day” (v3).

This sequence is impressive and underlines action and completion, especially the conclusion “and God saw that it was good,” which signifies a looking with pleasure on a task completed, and then the day ends! There is no way we can misread this as a gradual, progressive theistic evolutionary exercise. Hebrews says that “the works [of creation] were finished from the foundation of the world” (4:3). The writer could say this because that is the plain intention of the creation record. And the words of Psalm 33:6 and 9 would be rendered meaningless: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth … For he spake, and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” There was an immediate performance of God’s will.

The constancy of species

In the creation record it is stated that the means of reproduction were within the species themselves: “the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree … whose seed is in itself” (Gen 1:11). Thus plants and animals were made with the power to reproduce “after their kind” (Gen 1:12). The statement that every living thing was to bring forth “after his kind” is repeated in every case (see verses 11–12, 21–22, 24–25). Thus species would preserve their integrity and likeness. This statement is opposed to the principles of (theistic) evolution.

Interdependence of life in nature

There are thousands of examples in the biological world where different species of animals, birds, fish, insects, beasts and man are dependent on each other. It may be dependent upon some chemical or action of the other species. A well-known example is the bee that requires nectar from the flowers of plants. At the same time the botanical world requires bees to carry out pollination, to fertilise and germinate the seeds of the plants. How wonderful this is and it happens in every country. This is genius, the brilliance of design, and so intricate that to say that it has resulted from chance or with divine superintendence over aeons, is unacceptable. Trees and flowers were created on the third day, insects and birds on the fifth; this all makes sense if speaking of 24 hour days, but meaningless if aeons are involved.

Hebrew bara

This is the word for “create” in the Bible and it signifies to prepare, form, fashion, create; that is, it carries the sense of mind, intelligence and purpose. In Genesis it is used in the past tense which means that from the beginning the fashioning was complete (see 1:1,21,27; 2:3; 5:1,2; 6:7). The word is used extensively in Isaiah 40 to 65, both in reference to the creation and the “new thing” which God would bring forth (eg 40:26; 42:5; 45:12,18; 65:17–18; Jer 31:22). It is always translated “create”.

The general support of the Old Testament

If you check the Old Testament references to creation you will see that they correspond with the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Here are some examples:

Exodus 31:17: “It is a sign between me and the children forever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”

Deuteronomy 4:32: “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth …” (Moses is consistent with what he wrote in Genesis 1 and 2).

1 Chronicles 16:26: “but the LORD made the heavens.” (cp Gen 1:8)

Nehemiah 9:6: “thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”

Psalm 94:8–9: “Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?”

Psalm 136:5–9: “To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever.

The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever:

The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever”

Isaiah 42:5: “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”

Isaiah 45:18: “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”

Jeremiah 10:12: “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.”

All these passages, and there are many others, are consistent with the sense, the natural reading of the Genesis account of creation. Would they have been deliberately written to mislead us as to how the world and its creatures were formed? Was it initiated by a ‘Big Bang’ 18.5 billion years ago? Was the miracle of life a chance chemical accident? The odds against this happening spontaneously are staggering. Do any of the above Bible passages echo the theistic evolutionist’s views, let alone the evolutionist’s views, the fragile towers of hypotheses? An atheist may be content with such a theory, but as Christadelphians we believe in a living God and cannot accept such speculation.

The Lord’s mind

Gathering a few of Jesus’ sayings together is also reassuring. For example:

Matthew 6:30: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field … shall he not much more clothe you …” It is very clear how our Lord, the Creator’s own Son, viewed the Genesis record of creation.

Matthew 19:4–6: “And he answe red and said unto them. Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Not only does Jesus refer to the creation of man and woman but he upholds the principle of marriage that arose out of that very occasion in Eden, “in the beginning”. He supports the truth of those events, and builds upon the manner of the creation of Adam and Eve a spiritual lesson of unity in marriage, a unity not to be put asunder. What a different mind to those who tell us that we share a genome with apes and therefore we came from a common ancestor!

The Lord said clearly “that he which made them in the beginning made them male and female”. The Gospel records teach that Adam was the first man, “the son of God” (Luke 3:38). The Lord calls that “the beginning”. He doesn’t say they gradually evolved over many millions of years. He says God made them male and female. There wasn’t earlier information; it wasn’t a stealthy, gradual divergence from other anthropoids. God made them in such a way, the man and the woman, so that their bond together was a marriage, not to be broken because He had joined them together.

We can see then how dangerous it is to follow the path of theistic evolutionary thought. Rather than being made in the image and likeness of God, we share a common ancestor with chimps and gorillas! The record of Scripture would be upended, and the foundations of moral principles overturned.

Listen again to the words of our Lord, the Creator’s own Son:

Luke 11:40: Addressing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Jesus made it clear that he believed that His Father made man: “Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without, make that which is within also?”

Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord … for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”.

Revelation 10:6: “And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.”

Revelation 14:7: “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Inspiration from creation

In a relevant and famous passage the Apostle Paul speaks of the moral out-workings of the creation.

Romans 1:19–20; “Because that which may be known of God is manifest to them for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”.

This passage is saying that the creation speaks eloquently of God’s power that has always existed, and of His “Godhead”, signifying His mind or intelligence. The evolutionist thinks everything came into being without purpose, without intelligence. The Word of God is stating the very opposite; in fact it states that the evidence for a Creator is so visible and overwhelming that “men are without excuse”. The theistic evolutionist mitigates the power of the apostle’s words by introducing the evolutionary process into the equation.

Psalm 104 is a commentary upon the Genesis record of creation. This beautiful psalm is full of excellent expressions, illustrating God’s “eternal power and Godhead”. It begins with the words, “O LORD my God, thou art very great” and ends with, “I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live”. The psalm may be summarised in the words of verse 24, “O Yahweh, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”

These are the conclusions of a faithful writer as he comments on all the awe-inspiring works of God and the teaming millions of living creatures, in sea, land and sky. He is neither an evolutionist nor a theistic evolutionist. He believes that God made all things by His glorious power, exercised with flawless wisdom.

That is also how the angels of God felt at the conclusion of the creation.

God demands of Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4–7).

We can do no better than emulate the angels of God who witnessed the awesome acts of creation, and spontaneously broke forth in shouts of joy and praise.