A Biblical Model of Earth History
The book of Genesis has been called the book of origins. Though it is not a detailed “textbook,” it gives a framework for understanding the origin of space, matter, time, the earth, the universe, life, marriage, families, cultures, government, religion, languages, and people groups. For study purposes, it is helpful to divide the Biblical record of earth history into 7 major periods or events: Creation, Fall, Pre-Flood, Flood, Post-Flood, Present, and Future. While it is beyond the scope of this book to discuss these in detail, a brief overview follows. (See The Genesis Record by Dr. Henry Morris for a detailed study.)
Creation: The Bible teaches that the “heavens and the earth” were created “to be inhabited” (Is. 45:18) by the Word of God from “things not seen” (Heb. 11:3). Genesis 1 gives an overview of the order in which God created, while Genesis 2 gives a complementary account focusing especially on the creation of the first human beings. There are numerous references to the Creator and His creative acts throughout the Bible. Books have been written on this topic, but here we will make just a few observations: 1) The Bible indicates that God finished His creation in 6 days and rested on the 7th. 2) The phrase “after its kind” (or a similar statement) occurs ten times in Genesis 1 alone, indicating that distinct “kinds” were created independently – one “kind” of thing did not arise from another “kind” as evolution teaches. 3) At the end of the creation week, it was “very good” – functionally complete with fruit on the trees, “mature” human beings, and all sorts of plants and animals occupying various ecological niches. 4) Humans were intelligent from the beginning; they were given the job of caring for the earth, used language for communication, and had the capacity to make intellectual and moral choices.
Fall: This last capacity, the ability to make choices, got them into real trouble. Doubting the Creator’s words and His character, they chose to disobey and rebel against the Creator. Their choice impacted the whole of creation (since they had been given dominion over it). Pain, suffering, and death came into the world. The formerly productive ground now yielded thorns and thistles, and scraping a living from the ground became hard work. Despite the consequences of their disobedience, the Creator continued to interact with His creation, though the intimate fellowship has been broken.
Pre-Flood: Though we have little direct information about this period of time, there are some interesting hints and inferences from science and the Bible. It seems the climate was milder than today. Fossil evidence indicates the existence of vast amounts of lush vegetation. It also indicates that many animals (including dinosaurs), plants, and even some people grew much larger in the past. In addition, records from the Bible and other cultural traditions indicate that people lived much longer than today. It is not known exactly what would have caused the conditions to allow these things, but one idea is that a “canopy” of water vapor above the atmosphere might have been involved. Research is currently being done to see if this idea “holds any water.” The Biblical record shows mankind developing cities and civilizations during this period, but it also records the increase in wickedness until “violence filled the earth” and God determined to bring a Flood to cleanse the earth. One man was found to be righteous, and he was given the job to preach and prepare for the coming cataclysm.
Flood: The Bible describes the Flood as a year-long, global event. All flesh that was not on board the ark of safety perished in the Flood. Traditions world-wide describe such an event, though none describe it with as much detail as the Bible. Is that just a good story for kids or was it actual history? Many people have raised serious and seemingly valid objections to the Flood account in Genesis. However, there are well-researched, plausible answers to virtually every one of these objections. (See Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, by John Woodmorrappe, available at www. DiscoverCreation.org) A cataclysm of such proportions would have drastically changed the face of the earth and left abundant evidence. Indeed, geologists have observed features all over the world that fit with such a Flood. This includes rock layers with characteristics indicating water deposition and vast numbers of fossils (even on the tops of the highest mountains including Everest) indicating rapid burial under catastrophic conditions.
Post-Flood: After the Flood, the Bible indicates that the “mountains rose; the valleys sank down” (Ps. 104:8 NAS). With an event of such catastrophic proportions, the earth’s crust would undergo a period of readjustment until a new equilibrium is reached. Mountain building and the uplift of continents would result in great inland seas in some regions and great amounts of erosion in others. These phenomena are well-known to geologists. In addition, conditions would likely have been right for an Ice Age to occur sometime after the Flood, as waters evaporated from warm oceans, circulated over continents, and precipitated as rain and eventually snow. This process would continue, with ice accumulating until oceans cooled and global temperatures moderated to stop the process and eventually allow a retreat of the glaciers. Water locked in glaciers or in large inland seas (formed by glacial ice dams or by the uplift of continents) would cause two additional phenomena of interest: 1) Sea levels would be lower than today, exposing land bridges between continents and allowing for the rapid spreading of animals and people to re-populate the world. 2) Collapse of ice dams and weakening of the earth’s crust around inland seas would cause catastrophic flooding and erosion, carving out massive erosional features in a short amount of time. (See section: “Young or Old” for examples.) (Note: many creationists also believe that plate tectonics or “continental drift”can be well understood in conjunction with the Flood and subsequent events. See The Answers Book by Ken Ham for a laymen’s description.)
Present: As discussed earlier, the present world is all that scientists can study directly by observation and experimentation. However, scientists interpret observations within their perspective worldviews. The Bible indicates that the universe is still governed by its Creator. Scientists have discovered many of the physical “laws” by which the universe operates, and the search continues. Biology and information science have teamed up to study the amazing complexity of life, causing many scientists to reject the idea that such complexity could arise simply by chance and natural processes. In addition, observations continue to show distinct “kinds” both in the living world and the fossil record – observations consistent with the Biblical record. In geology, recent finds have caused increasing numbers of geologists to question the idea that observed geologic formations were formed by present processes operating at basically uniform rates and to seriously consider catastrophic models of earth history. In all areas of science, many qualified scientists are taking a new look at the Biblical worldview as a framework for interpreting the evidence seen in the present.
Future: According to evolutionary ideas, the future should continue pretty much as the past. Some predict that the universe as we know it will die a “heat death,” perhaps to be followed by another cycle of evolution. The Bible tells of a coming judgment (next time by fire II Pet. 3:7,10,12), a restoration (when the “wolf and the lamb shall graze together” and the “lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Is. 65:25), and a “new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells” (II Pet. 3:13). Details and time-frame are debated even by Bible believers, but most would agree that things in the future will be different from today. Such things are outside of the scope of science, but certainly of interest and importance for each of us to study.
In conclusion to this section, the Bible gives a model of earth history that is testable. In our opinion, it fits the actual observations of science better than the evolution model.
By Dave Nutting
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