A Position Paper of Heritage Bible Church
This is a Position Paper of Heritage Bible Church, published by the elders of the church as a guide to help Christians understand an important issue in light of the Scriptures. Complete agreement with the positions of the elders on all matters is not required for a person to serve with this church, but the elders do want you to understand what to expect from the leadership of the church. Interaction with the elders on the contents of this paper or any other issue is always welcome.
The issue of origins is foundational to the way you perceive the purpose and significance of life. In our “modern” world there is much debate over this issue, and the literal interpretation of the Bible has come under attack from people claiming to speak scientifically. Even some claiming to be Christian have attempted to harmonize the “facts” of science with the Bible by allegorizing the text of scripture and adopting the view of “progressive creation” or “theistic evolution.”
It is the position of Heritage Bible Church that the Bible is the revelation of God to man and inerrant in all that it teaches. In this light it is our belief that God, who created all things from the beginning, has provided a record of His work beginning in the book of Genesis, and referred to throughout the entire Bible. While the Bible is not a science text, it is accurate in all areas where it speaks to scientific facts. It is the intent of this paper to examine what God’s Word, the Bible, says about the issue of origins and show that what God says is in complete harmony with true science. While it is true that the secret things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29) the rest of the verse goes on to tell us that “the things revealed belong to us and our sons forever that we may observe all the words of this law.” This paper will show what God has revealed about origins and deal with the objections that might appear to contradict His Word.
It is our position that The Bible is the eternal, inerrant, and infallible word of God (Psalm 12:6; 19:7-11; 119:140; John 10:35; Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21) and contains all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It is our belief that: “In the beginning” (before time or anything else existed) God created the heavens and the earth from nothing (Hebrews 11:3) and in a series of six, approximately 24 hour days, He created all things in sequence as outlined in the first chapter of Genesis. According to the genealogical records included in the Bible this occurred a little over 6,000 years ago.
God originally created everything “very good” (perfect) and “rested from all His creating” because it was complete. Not long after this man, who was created in God’s image (a moral being having self-consciousness, an immortal spirit, and the ability to have a relationship with God), chose to rebel against the one prohibition God had given him (Genesis 2:17). As a result of this disobedience (sin) man brought death (both physical and spiritual) and decay into the world, which continues to this day. As a result all things in the physical world experience entropy and living things must die. Spiritually this sin resulted in a break in man’s ability to have fellowship with God (because God is perfectly Holy and cannot allow sin in His presence) and if allowed to continue in this state man will, at the point of physical death, be eternally separated from God and suffer torment for eternity. For this reason God the Son, Jesus Christ the Creator (John 1:1-3), became a man and lived a sinless life and died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin once for all so that all who trust Him as Savior and Lord can be forgiven for their sin, be spared the eternal separation and punishment that their sin deserves, and instead receive eternal life in His presence forever.
This is more than an argument over a debatable issue. This is foundational to the authority of the Word of God and to the gospel itself. If millions of years of death and suffering occurred before God caused man to “evolve,“ then the Bible is in error at the outset. If Adam and Eve were not the first people and sin did not enter into the world through Adam’s sin (1 Corinthians 15:20-22) then why did Jesus Christ die on the cross for the sin of mankind? This would be useless, meaningless, and contrary to His whole purpose in becoming flesh, dwelling among us, and being put to death on the cross as recorded in scripture. Those who say that this is a non-issue or a secondary doctrine need to review the gospel and realize that it hinges on a literal Adam and a literal fall creating a literal need for a Savior from the consequences of literal sin.
Many people are ignorant of what the Bible actually says. The following section is a brief synopsis of what the Bible says concerning creation. Because we at Heritage Bible Church believe the Bible is accurate in everything it says, it is important to have a proper understanding of what it actually says so that our faith is founded on God’s truth and not fallible men’s opinions.
What the Bible says concerning creation
Who created? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3). For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
How did He create? By His spoken word; His command; All from nothing, or “ex nihilo.” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26; Psalm 33:6-9; 148:1-5; Hebrews 11:3)
What did He create? The heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 146:6; Isaiah 37:16; Acts 17:24). All things (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3; Acts 17:24; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11). Space, time, and matter (Genesis 1:1). Light (Genesis 1:3). The earth’s atmosphere (Genesis 1:6). Dry land and plant life (Genesis 1:9-12). The sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14-18). Aquatic life and birds (Genesis 1:20-22). All land animals and man (Genesis 1:24-27).
What is the pinnacle of His creation? Mankind. God created all things, and in His final creative act He made man in His own image to rule over all of the rest of His creation. Man was made with the ability to know God and to fellowship with Him in ways impossible for the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-28).
What is the purpose of creation? God Is sovereign and thus He determines what He wants to do and does so without any influence from outside Himself. Scripture does not explain why God, who is completely perfect and satisfied in Himself, would decide to create a universe and all that is in it. Scripture simply reveals that He created everything, He created it for Himself, He created it to be inhabited and creation is an unmistakable testimony to His power (Colossians 1:16; Isaiah 45:18; Romans 1:18-20).
If God created everything, did God create sin? No. When God finished creating He pronounced it all “very good” (Genesis 1:31) meaning that it was perfect, just as it was planned. Because man is made in the image of God and has the ability to choose, the potential for distrust and rebellion is possible. Sin entered the world only when Adam (prompted by his wife Eve who was deceived by the serpent) chose by his own volition to disobey the one prohibition God had placed on him (Genesis 2:17), eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, all of creation is under the curse of sin and will remain so until the time when this sin-cursed universe is destroyed and replaced with a new one (Genesis 3:1-19; Romans 5:12; 8:20-22; 1Timothy 2:14; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1).
What about Science? Many “scientific” arguments are put forth to challenge the accuracy of the Biblical record. On the surface they seem to be valid but as we will see, they are based in assumption and their basic premise is that there is a natural explanation for everything apart from any supernatural intervention and thus no need for God. Sinful man would rather “worship the creature rather than the Creator who is forever praised” (Romans 1). It is our duty to be “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians10:5) and contending for the faith against “the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Timothy 6:20). This is not to ignore the issues or “scientific “ evidence as some would accuse us, but to critically examine the evidence and determine what is true as the Bible exhorts us to do in 1Thesalonians 5:2. The next section is for this purpose.
Common Objections answered
The universe is too old and the Bible does not allow for all this time. While it is true the Biblical record does not allow for millions of years of time, the reality is that these eons of time are not necessary to account for all that has happened in earth’s history. The long ages are based on the assumption that they (long ages) occurred and all the data is interpreted in light of this initial assumption (which is circular reasoning). Examples of this are geologic features such as the Grand Canyon, which according to uniformi tarianism would take millions of years for a river to cut through the rock layers to finally carve out the great chasm. This does not fit the observations. On the contrary, the canyon formation at Mt. St. Helens has shown that a great amount of water can carve out a canyon 1/40 the size of the Grand Canyon in one afternoon. If a comparatively small amount of water can do this, what would be the results of a much greater amount (such as in the flood of Noah’s day)?
The uniformitarianism model proposes that features we observe today exist because the effects of gradual processes have accumulated over great ages. While these processes do occur they are not sufficient to “create” the things they are given credit for. In reality, these things (fossils, sedimentary soil layers, etc) are observed to develop in catastrophic conditions requiring relatively short time periods. All evidence given for the long ages fits into the category of “Prehistory,” which has no record and has been pieced together and interpreted in light of the interpreter’s bias. While this makes for interesting stories (usually cited as fact) these are not based on empirical data and require faith in the unobserved. In contrast, the Biblical time frame matched with the events given in the Bible can explain all that is seen.
Does the word “day” in Genesis mean a literal day? Many who argue for harmonizing of “modern science” with the biblical record do so saying that the word translated day in Genesis 1 (yom) can mean long periods of time. While technically this is correct, the context must determine the intent of the writer. In this case the word is used with the modifiers “and there was evening and there was morning” and then is further modified with a number which leaves no doubt that the author (God) meant to convey that He accomplished the work of creation in literal days.
In every instance of scripture when the Hebrew word yom (day) is used with this type of modifier it always means a literal day. The same word is used by God when He speaks to Israel about the Sabbath. He says in Exodus 20:8-11:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (emphasis added)
God clearly states that the reason Israel was to have a six-day work week and to rest one day was because this was the pattern He followed in the creation week. If He intended the word to mean “long ages” then the fourth commandment is meaningless because their life span would not get them through the first day. To those who hold to the position that God’s days are not our days and we cannot tell what His days are like we need to understand that we did not define day, He did. We use His definition of a day and therefore can reasonably conclude that even though God is outside of time and not subject to it, His “day” is the same one we know.
Where did God get the matter to make everything? This is easily answered by the Word of God. Hebrews 11:3 says: By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. God made everything from nothing! This seems incredible (and it is an amazing display of power) so much so that many cannot bring themselves to believe this is more than a children’s story. The fact is that the current “scientific” model of cosmology is based on the premise that all the matter in the universe was compressed into an area the size of a dot like the period at the end of a sentence (basically nothing) and then this nothing exploded and made everything. In this model one makes the assumption that matter is eternal and inherently has the ability to self-organize (which is contrary to the laws of science). Both models are similar in this respect. The main difference is that in one your faith is in the impossibility of matter to overcome the laws of physics and create all things or you believe that an all-powerful God spoke all things into existence, established the laws of nature and now sustains all his creation by the power of His word. The latter is consistent with the Word of God and the position of Heritage Bible Church.
Who made God? The Bible is clear that God is Self-existent (Psalm 90:2, Deuteronomy 33:27, Isaiah 9:60 ). His judgments are eternal (Matthew18:8). He offers eternal life (Matthew 19:29). This is difficult for our minds trapped in time to comprehend but God says He is everlasting; and He (Jesus) is “the Alpha and the Omega who was and who is and who is to come.” (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13)
Science has proven that life can be made from non-living matter. Contrary to several popular assertions, man has not been able to even come close to creating life from non-living chemicals. Experiments such as Stanley Miller’s are often cited as evidence by those ignorant of what was actually produced. In his experiment, and many others since, unrealistic conditions were created to produce a glob of tar, sugars, and amino acids. These products were not the right kind that would be useful in creating any biopolymers and actually have no possibility of ever forming anything that could be used in living creatures. If you check any encyclopedia, you will find that in the realm of science “life” is still mysterious as to its actual origin. God has the answer in His Word. He is The Living God (Deuteronomy 5:26) and only He can create life.
What about all the variety we see in the natural world? Many propose that the variety we see in the world of nature must have “evolved” from a common ancestor. This invariably must violate the observable laws of genetics and operates on the assumption that there is a mechanism which somehow adds to the genetic information of the organism and produces new species. This has never been observed to happen and is believed by faith. In the Bible we are told that on the third day of creation God created all the plant life; on the fifth day all the sea creatures and the birds; and on the sixth day land dwelling creatures, creeping things, and man. The text of scripture does not name all the living things God made in the first chapter of Genesis but allows for all the wonderful variety of life we see today. In addition to this, because of the effects of the fall and the breakdown in the genetic code, we see even greater variations within the original created kinds which still exist.
What about all the variety of traits within the human kind (races)? In our world today we here told of different races of people and that they are different because of varying branches of evolutionary accent. The truth is that all men of every genetic type can trace their ancestry back to one set one set of parents. There is enough variability in the genetic code of man for one set of parents to produce offspring with a wide variety of characteristics. Acts 17:27 says of God: “He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” The genealogical records in the Bible all trace the ancestry of men back to Adam, and no further (except to identify Adam as the son of God, His first created man in Luke 3:38) just as we are told in the book of Genesis that he was the first man created.
As Adam and His wife Eve had children and their children had children, a wide variety of genetic combinations would have been expressed and as groups with limited gene pools became isolated their offspring would be more alike in major characteristics (such as very light or very dark skin color or brown eyes or pale blue eyes). The fact is there is one race of mankind and all of us are the product of one Creator to whom we will give account.
What about the geologic features which require “millions of years” to form? As was pointed out earlier, modern science has promoted the idea of long ages to accommodate their theory of evolution over eons of time. Because the changes supposedly produced by evolution can’t be seen happening during a lifetime of study it requires a belief that what is not possible even in a hundred years must be possible if given millions of years. In light of this need, the uniformitarianism model produces an explanation for features such as the sedimentary rock layers with all their fossils that are found all over the world that requires long ages of time and cannot be observed.
Given that presupposition, the student is to work on the assumption that it takes these long ages to form these features because we can’t see them forming today. This is not scientific because these processes (if they do happen) are outside of observation. If we are to take the observations of events which have occurred within our lifetime and have produced these types of features we see that only catastrophic events cause these things to form. The formation of these layers and other geologic features used to defend the long age theories simply do not align well with the observations but on the other hand the Biblical events such as the flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-9) has the explanatory power and fits the observations.
What about the fossil evidence? Fossil evidence is often cited as showing evolution in action. Fossils are shown in their geologic columns (caused by flooding) and are made to represent a gradual progression where one group of organisms, such as the invertebrates, gave rise to the next group and so on. People are told what to see by the interpreter based on the interpreter’s bias. The fact is all fossils can do is show that something which was alive died and was, in whole or in part, preserved. It does not show any such progression of change.
All fossils show fully-formed organisms which are fully equipped for life in their specific environment. Many claim to have transitional fossils which show a process of changing from one type to another (such as a dinosaur to a bird). The foremost authorities in paleontology have conceded that there are no transitional species and have proposed mechanisms such as punctuated equilibrium (the idea that evolution happens in quick jumps and thus does not produce transitions) to explain the absence of transitions. The fossils testify of a worldwide catastrophe (flood) which produced massive amounts of death and destruction instantly (some fossils were found with their dinner half eaten). Fossils are not formed by slow processes. They form when conditions occur quickly and prevent decomposition and preserve the remains of the organism. Therefore, all fossil evidence testifies to the awesome power of God over His creation–and not of long ages.
What about starlight and the time it takes to reach the earth? To answer this it is important to recognize the purpose of light in the first place. In Genesis 1:15 we see that the purpose of creating the lights in the heavens was “to give light on the earth.“ It is possible God Created the “host of the heavens” with their light already shining on the earth. Other scientists have proposed various theories to try to explain how this can happen even over the course of the Biblical time frame and have met with some success. Understanding who God is and that He has the power to accomplish His purposes regardless of how difficult it seems to us is the key. This we understand by faith.
If we all came from one set of parents, where did the first offspring get their mates? We read in Genesis 5:4 that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters. We must realize that all Adam’s children married from within their close relatives. The prohibition against this is not found until later (hundreds of years later, in Exodus) and the closer to the original creation the people are the less time the harmful effects of the fall would have produced the genetic deficiencies which result from the marriage of close relatives today.
If we all came from one set of parents why are there so many different languages? Genesis 11:1-9 is the Biblical account of the tower of Babel in which men in rebellion against God tried to build a tower and unite the people against God. God confused the languages of the people so they could not communicate with each other, which resulted in stopping the work. The result was the scattering of the people over the face of the earth. This is the origin of the various languages and also helps in further explaining the specialization of various genetic traits within geographic locations.
Why do all scientists believe in the old age of the earth and evolution? This is a myth propagated by those who stand in opposition to God and reject His authority over their lives. Historically the great minds of science and the fathers of scientific principles we study today were all believers in the Creator. They sought to understand His mind by discovering the natural laws He instituted. Today there are many scientists with advanced degrees working in many fields who adhere to the literal six-day creation account as recorded in Genesis.
Many others who do not embrace the Creator God realize that all the vast complexity of our universe and all living things is totally beyond the possibility of coming about by natural means. Many come right to the brink of understanding there is a Creator only to reject Him as is outlined in Romans 1:18-23. In every country there are scientists who have examined the facts and come to the conclusion that there must be a Creator. Many of these have come from backgrounds where they were thoroughly indoctrinated into evolutionary theory and had not even heard of alternatives (such as in the former Soviet Union) and upon further examination of the facts they have embraced the Creator.
The issue of origins is a foundational issue that must be dealt with by each individual. It is not a matter of whether or not God exists, because as we are taught in Romans 1:19-23 it is clear from what He has made that God exists. It is a matter of man trying to deny God the glory He is due by not giving Him the credit He deserves. God says these men have become fools and use their denial of Him as an excuse to indulge in every form of sin and wickedness. While this paper has given the Biblical position and also a brief explanation of the scientific arguments dealing with the issue of origins, the core of the issue is whether or not each person is willing to be humble before the true God who created the universe and come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. The alternative is to foolishly turn away from God’s offer of salvation and perish in the eternal lake of fire.
* For the section on common objections, information in the area of science was gathered and synthesized from numerous sources. A partial list of sources is added so you can check the information for yourself or do further study into the actualities of scientific understanding in the area of origins.
Ham, Ken. The Lie. Master Books: Green Forest, 1987.
Ham, Ken, Snelling, Andrew, and Wieland, Carl. The Answers Book. Master Books: Green Forest, 1990.
Humphreys, Russell. Starlight and Time. Master Books: Green Forest, 1994.
Morris, Henry. Scientific Creationism. Master Books: El Cajon, 1985.
Morris, Henry. That Their Words May Be Used Against Them. Master Books: Green Forest, 1997.
Morris, Henry, and Morris, John. The Modern Creation Trilogy. Master Books: Green Forest, 1996.
Petersen, Dennis. Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation. Creation Resource Foundation: Lake Tahoe, 1986.
Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution. Master Books: Green Forest, 1999.
Other valuable resources: Answers in Genesis, www.answersingenesis.org; Institute for Creation Research, www.icr.org; Creation magazine; a quarterly publication of Answers in Genesis Ministries International.
Uniformitarianism is one of the most important unifying concepts in the geosciences. This concept developed in the late 1700s, suggests that catastrophic processes were not responsible for the landforms that existed on the Earth's surface. This idea was diametrically opposed to the ideas of that time period which were based on a biblical interpretation of the history of the Earth. Instead, the theory of uniformitarianism suggested that the landscape developed over long periods of time through a variety of slow geologic and geomorphic processes. This definition comes from www.fundamentalgeography.net Fundamentals of Geology, Chapter 10.
The Miller experiment is summarized at http://tidepool.st.usm.edu/crswr/millerurey.html (evolutionist point of view) or at http://evolutionoftruth.com/evo/millerurey.htm (creationist point of view)
Humphreys, Russell. Starlight and Time. Master Books: Green Forest, 1994.