Who is God? What’s He like? Is He kind and loving, or angry and wrathful? Is He aloof and distant or intimately involved in our lives?
What you believe about God and how you answer these questions is surprisingly dependent on what you believe about creation.
So, before you try to answer those questions answer this one first: How did the world we see around us come into existence?
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
– Psalm 19:1-4
The Bible paints a very different picture of who God is than the answer given by our culture.
Our culture currently teaches that the earth is billions of years old and that every living thing you see today is the result of a blind process of evolution that also took billions of years. Some well-meaning people want to take that answer and fit it into God’s story. The basic premise behind this melding of accounts is creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive. You can have the best of both worlds. You can believe that the Earth is billions of years old and that life as we know it has been shaped by evolution, but also that God has been the one behind the scenes over the course of those billion years directing it. So there you have it…problem solved.
This is the position of some churches and many people today. It’s a neat and tidy solution. It allows you to maintain your belief in God without having to directly confront what many say is common knowledge about how the world came into being. It’s the perfect solution, except that it doesn’t work.
You only have to read the first three chapters of Genesis to see why it doesn’t work. Creation is where we first come to know God. You could say we come to know God in these six days. Who He is, who we are, why there is so much suffering in the world, and what God intends to do about it all. When you take what the Bible clearly says about God creating the world and us in six days and stretch that out over millions of years, the answers to those basic questions change. Remember those basic questions are: Who is God? Who are we? Why is there so much suffering and what is God going to do about it? You come to know a different god than the one the Bible talks about.
In six days we come to know that God created this world perfectly. At the end of each day God looked at his creation and saw that it was good. In six days we come to know that God created this world with an order in mind. He separated sky from land, water from earth. He created plants, and the sun and the moon and the stars. He created the birds and the fish and the animals and finally he created us. Man and woman. Sometime after day seven, that man and woman, Adam and Eve, were tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree they had been commanded not to eat from. They ate, and incurred a curse from God on themselves and all creation. This curse didn’t come out of nowhere. God had warned Adam and Eve that death would be the result if they disobeyed his command not to eat fruit from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But in the midst of pronouncing his curse, God also let slip a promise. A promise that one of Adam and Eve’s children would crush the serpent’s head. This promised child would defeat the death and destruction that they had brought on themselves and God’s creation. And so already at the dawn of creation we see a promise pointing us forward to Jesus.
In eight days, we find that God creates perfectly and with an order in mind, that he created us in a special way, that we are the cause of all the suffering we see around us, and that God, in his son Jesus, is still working today to bring an end to that suffering. That’s the Biblical picture God gives of himself and us.
When you stretch creation out over millions of years the picture of God you get is quite different. Now you are left with a God who did not create with perfection in mind. Now you have a God who created in fits and starts. Who hit apparent dead ends, allowing some species to die off so that more advanced ones could take their place. Eventually one of those species rose up to become modern humans. In this account, death is just a natural part of the world. There was never any garden in Eden. There was no forbidden fruit. No serpent. No fall. No Adam and Eve. Those become mere stories written to teach a moral about the need to obey God.
But the biggest problem is that there is no longer any need for Jesus, because the world is operating today as it always has. There is no need for a savior. No good reason to follow Jesus at all. Sure, he might have been an inspiring teacher, but he spoke as if Adam and Eve had been real people. He spoke as if the creation account actually happened the way Genesis relates that it did. At best, that makes Jesus uneducated, and at worst, a fraud. That’s what you get when you try to reconcile creation and evolution.
The fix doesn’t really fix anything. So which do you believe? And how do you come to a decision? Evolution or creation in six days?
This may sound incredible, but believing either proposition takes faith. The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God.” (Hebrews 11:3) Evolution is so enticing because it claims to have hard facts, science on its side. But that’s the problem. No human was alive to observe the beginning. Science is built on the premise of observation. As God once said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4)
Knowing that God created this world in six days is the foundation of everything that God has done and continues to do. Without that, you cannot know God. Adam and Jesus are the two most important people in the biblical narrative. Adam was the man who took the blame of sin and died. Jesus, both man and God, died to take that blame away.