Our approach to Genesis 1–11 does not need any special measures to preserve orthodox biblical doctrines. We read Genesis in the plain sense, as did Jesus and the Apostles. Thus, we do not need to wrestle with the text to align Genesis with billion-year evolutionary thinking.
We accept Scripture’s self-attestation to its inerrancy as the inspired and authoritative Word of the Creator of the universe (e.g., Numbers 23:19; Psalms 12:6; 119:89, 96; Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 24:35) and thus accurate, not just in theology but in everything that it speaks about, including the history of the world.
Indeed, biblical theology cannot be separated from history. The theology of salvation cannot be divorced from the historical events that surrounded the death and resurrection of Jesus, any more than it can be separated from the events in Genesis that created the need for salvation.
We distinguish between facts (data) and the interpretations of history derived therefrom. We endeavour to interpret the data in a way that is consistent with Scripture. We accept experimental science, but we reject those hypotheses that present a false history of the universe, such as evolution and an Earth that is billions of years old. Such theories discredit the Bible’s timeframe, and once they became widely accepted, it was a short step to relegate the whole Bible to a mere ‘once upon a time’ that could be safely ignored. So today the Christian church is marginalised, and ears largely deaf to the Bible’s message of salvation.
The enterprise of re-interpreting the data in the light of the Bible’s record is now well advanced, involving many scientists and theologians. This is re-authenticating the dominant, traditional view of Christian scholars for 2,000 years—a ‘very good’ original creation where there was no death, disease or suffering before Adam’s fall into sin, all within a timeframe of around 6,000 years (given in Genesis 1, 5, and 11).
A traditional approach to Genesis as historical narrative of real, specific space-time events and people that form one grand plan and purpose of God with a beginning, middle and end, has far-reaching implications:
It provides the biblical worldview for understanding the origin of the world, humans, sin, evil, death, and the necessity of the cross. Paul sets the example at Lystra: ‘we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them’ (Acts 14:8–16). He speaks similarly in Athens (Acts 17:16ff). Paul’s approach to evangelising pagans establishes a biblical worldview. This is the only framework within which the cross can be rightly understood: the God who created us and against whom we have rebelled and under whose curse we stand, is the God who came to rescue us in Jesus Christ. In Australia, generations have now been taught a theory which purports to explain the origin of everything with no reference to a creator. Agreeing with them will hinder them from seeing their need of salvation.
Upholds the goodness of God
At the end of Day 6 of Creation Week, ‘God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.’ (Genesis 1:31) Attempts to accommodate long ages must put the fossils of dead creatures (entailing hundreds of millions of years of suffering, disease, and death) before people appeared on the earth. That would mean that ‘Adam and Eve’ were standing on a kilometres-deep record of death, disease, and suffering, and that God must have created a world of death, disease, and suffering. Many have drawn the logical conclusion from this that God is not good.
In debating Christopher Hitchens, William Lane Craig advocated theistic evolution. Hitchens pointed out that this was a poor apologetic because it laid the blame for sin, evil, sickness, and disaster on God. Correct!
Some might object, ‘What about animal carnivory?’ All animals originally ate plants (Genesis 1:30), so ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ came after the corruption of the whole creation with the Fall.
Honours God as Creator
Romans 1:18ff says that creation reveals God’s existence. However, according to academic evolutionary thinking, there is no evidence that God created anything; natural processes explain everything and do not need God. The former esteemed Principal of Moore College (1959–85) Dr Broughton Knox said,
The theory of evolution has no need of any reference to God or his purposes. It eliminates the supernatural and substitutes the idea that everything has arrived at its present state by accident. It is an incredible theory when you think about it. It is against the evidence …. The theory of evolution replaces the God who created the heavens and earth and everything we see around us with the theory that everything has been formed by accident … The great issues of today will turn on the outcome of this battle of ideas.
That is, evolution attributes to ‘Nature’ glory that is due God for his creation (Psalm 19, etc.). Darwin spoke of ‘a grandeur’ in his evolutionary view, but it was a grandeur directed to honouring ‘Nature’, not God. Thus, people today attribute the transcendent aspects of nature to ‘evolution’ rather than giving glory to God.
Places humans in correct relationship
Humankind are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27), making human life sacred. If we are the result of evolution from animals, this minimises the distinction between humans and animals and devalues human life. We see this in the rise of radical animal rights activism and the push for abortion and euthanasia.
Provides the historical foundations for the Gospel
The New Testament ties what Jesus did on the cross to what Adam did in Genesis 3 (e.g., Romans 5:12-19). Adam’s disobedience brought struggle for survival, physical death, and disease into God’s ‘very good’ creation (Paradise). And so, the ‘last Adam’, Jesus, came as the Messiah to rectify what the ‘first Adam’ wrought on the creation. Jesus’ healing miracles were an expected sign of the Messiah (e.g., Matthew 11:2–6; 8:16–17), because sickness entered through sin. Jesus died bodily on the Cross because physical death came into the world as the penalty for Adam’s sin (cf. Genesis 2:17). In Jesus’ bodily resurrection He defeated physical death. Death is ‘the last enemy’ to be defeated by Christ (1 Corinthians 15:25,26). How could death be integral to the created order from the beginning?
The whole creation is corrupted because of sin (Romans 8:19–23), reflecting a plain reading of Genesis 3; it was not created in a corrupt state, which all long-age thinking entails.
As we saw above, a Christian who accepts evolution must also accept that God created a world full of death and disease that pre-dated humans by eons. Physical death did not then arise with Adam (as per Romans 5:12–14), so the ‘death’ spoken of in Genesis 2:17 must only have been spiritual. Yet Genesis 3:19 says that Adam would return to the dust of the ground from which God created him—clearly referring to physical death. Furthermore, on such an account Jesus must have died to rescue the creation from the way that God created it, which undermines the message of salvation.
Provides for a consistent hermeneutic to understand the Bible
The Old Testament refers in many places to the events in Genesis 1–11 as real events. The New Testament also treats Genesis 1–11 as real history. Some examples are:
If the rest of the Bible treats Genesis 1–11 as real history, any hermeneutic that allows a non-historical view of Genesis is seriously faulty. Harmonising Genesis with evolutionary thinking entails either treating it as non-historical, or historical but errant, both of which undermine how we understand the Bible. The claim that Genesis is ‘poetic’, even if it were correct (it isn’t, it is historical narrative), would not rule out reading it as history because Hebrew poetry often related historical events (e.g. Psalm 78).
Is consistent with the Bible’s teaching on eschatology
The Bible speaks of ‘the time for restoring all’ (Acts 3:21) in various ways. There will be a new heavens and new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Why? Because the events described in Genesis (3:17,18) corrupted the present heavens and earth (Romans 8:18ff). But if death, disease, and decay are simply a result of how God originally made everything, then why are a new heavens and earth necessary? Does God need to fix a creation that He originally botched?! Long-age views undermine this, but the plain reading upholds it.
The Bible gives the major events of world history including Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the history of Israel, the coming of the Messiah, His death on the Cross, and His coming again. Genesis 1–11 sets the scene for the subsequent events, providing the reasons for why things unfolded as they did. The message of the Bible fits together like a glorious building with every piece interlocked in a beautiful way. To suggest that God ‘used evolution’ as the way of creating the world over millions of years destroys this big picture and introduces a myriad of theological problems. We thus recommend taking Genesis in the plain sense.
 For more on the relationship between facts and faith, see D. Batten, ‘Faith and facts—How a biblical worldview makes best sense of the evidence, such that the unbeliever has “no excuse”’, 2016, creation.com/faith-and-facts (URLs accessed May 2020).
 Transcript of the debate ‘Does God exist?’, April 2009, Hitchens’ opening speech, www.reasonablefaith.org/media/debates/does-god-exist#ixzz3dzTbo800.
 D. Broughton Knox, Not by Bread Alone (Banner of Truth, 1990), pp3–4.
 C. Darwin, The Origin of Species (Harvard University Press, 1964), p490.
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