Some people have seen what they suppose is a contradiction between the Bible and science. This has caused a crisis of faith in some, a reason for derision in others and a “so what” attitude in still more. As with many other things, the conflict may not be so much with the Bible or scientific data as with the interpretation that has been forced on that information. Is the earth some six thousand years old, or has it been around for billions of years? Let us look at what the Bible really says instead of what we have thought or been told it says.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (KJV)
Genesis 1:1 tells of the original creation of the world. There is no time noted except ‘the beginning,’ whenever that was. This original creation was fully formed and quite unlike what we find in Genesis 1:2. Look at what the prophets say about the creation and what followed it:
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 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
The implication here seems to be that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 some sort of calamity occurred to destroy the original state of this orb and resulted in the total chaos existing when the six days of ‘creation’ began in Genesis 1:3. The word translated in English versions as ‘was’ in Genesis 1:2 can also be rendered as ‘became.’ That translation would give credence to the possibility of a prior creation that was the victim of some disaster.
OT:1961 hayah (haw-yaw); a primitive root [compare OT:1933]; to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
If this translation of the word were appropriate, then Genesis 1:2 would read as follows: “And the earth became without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Whether this catastrophe was associated with the fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17) or something else is really irrelevant. It happened. How and why is of no import now except as to how remnants of that world are interpreted in relation to this age. In Genesis 1:3 we get the story of the REcreation of this old orb. The six day restoration of habitability is what is important to us. Our salvation is a matter of God’s dealings with the family of Adam and Eve. Whatever may have happened before is no more important to our destiny than what plays may have previously been on the stage we now occupy. As props used in prior productions may yet litter the area behind the curtains, so remnants of a prior ‘creation’ may be dug from the dust of the past. Gross error can creep in if, to follow our analogy, the present cast and crew try to figure out how the discarded scenery and props relate to the current production. The cauldron from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the furniture from Ionesco’s The Chairs, and the masks from any of Euripides’ plays, while interesting, are of minor impact upon today’s theatrics and can only confuse the dialogue and flow of the present production.
I am not trying to kick millions of tons of fossils under the table rather than deal with them. Instead I acknowledge their existence, but have a different, biblically plausible, explanation for their existence. They were part of a previous creation. The similarity of physical structure is no problem. The Great Designer used a model that worked. In the new ‘creation’ He updated and modified the basic version. Why throw away a design that works? If dinosaurs and another type of man once trod the earth and were destroyed in a great calamity (or calamities), that has little or no relevance to our present state in the matter of salvation. What ultimately concerns us is the fall and restoration of Adam’s family.
The Bible is not written as a science or history book to give us the full scope of everything that has ever happened. It is given to us as a guide to salvation for this ‘creation’ and this people. What may have happened before Genesis 1:3 is finished. When God breathed into man the ‘breath of life’ a new chapter began. The Bible is to guide us now, not to satisfy our curiosity about some distant, irrelevant yesterday.
And how old is the earth? God only knows, and our disputations about it are far less crucial than obedience to other, plainer; matters in the Word.
Remember: What the Bible says may not be what we have thought it said.