In the face of such "compelling" evidence for the evolutionary timeline, many Christians have abandoned a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis 1. Others have gone a step further, denying the literal nature of Genesis 1-11. There are many different viewpoints that allow for what we call "Theistic Evolution," which is the belief that God used the evolutionary process (and billions of years) to form the universe as we know it. These viewpoints, such as the "Day-Age Theory" and the "Literary Framework Theory," paint the early chapters of Genesis as symbolic and/or poetic in nature.
In this article, I'd like to give you five reasons to believe in six literal days...and why you should view the early chapters of Genesis, not as legend or poetry, but as historical narrative.
- The natural reading of the text demands literal days. It's true that we find symbolic and poetic texts in the Bible, but these texts are clearly identified. In Psalms, for example, we're told in many cases that these were songs. The metaphors and hyperbole are obvious. In Revelation, we're told in the very first verse that this is a book of symbols and signs. However, there is no such indicator in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These chapters read as historical narrative. In Genesis 1, an "evening and...morning" are attributed to each day. If we're going to make the case that Genesis 1, or that Genesis 1-11, are symbolic or poetic in nature, we need to have some strong internal evidence.
- While many religious people attempt to harmonize the theory of evolution with the creation account, there are blatant contradictions between the order of evolution and the order of biblical creation. The Bible says that fruit trees came before fish, but the evolutionary theory says that fish came first. The Bible says that birds came before reptiles, but the evolutionary theory posits that reptiles evolved into birds. The Bible says that mankind came before thorns and thistles (which were a consequence of man's sin in Genesis 3), but the evolutionary theory says the opposite. Consider this: in Romans 5:12, we're told that "through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." So there was no death before Adam's sin. But, of course, the evolutionary theory sets forth that death dominated the earth for hundreds of millions of years before man ever emerged in the evolutionary process. By accepting even the timeline and order of Darwinian evolution, we are saying that Paul was wrong in Romans 5.
- Moses believed in six literal days. In Exodus 20, as God gave the Ten Commandments, He compared the work-week of man to the work-week of God (in creation). "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord your God...For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day" (vs. 9, 11). Clearly, Moses, the author of Genesis, viewed the days as literal days.
- The genealogies in Genesis 1-11 match the genealogies found elsewhere in the Bible. First of all, if Genesis 1-11 are not historical in nature - if these were just stories and legends - then why do we find genealogical lists included in the first place (Gen. 5, 10-11)? As one preacher put it, the very presence of these genealogical lists prove the historical nature and intent of Genesis 1-11. Beyond that, these genealogical lists are repeated with precision in other places in the Bible. Compare, for example, the list in Genesis 5 with that in 1 Chronicles 1:1 and Luke 3:23-38. And this is especially significant when you realize that in Genesis 5:1, we're told that 130 years passed from Adam's creation (on the 6th day) to the birth of Seth (after he was out of the Garden).
- Jesus and His apostles viewed Genesis 1-11 as "historical narrative." Wouldn't you agree that if Jesus viewed the creation account (and all of Genesis 1-11) as literal and true, that we should as well? In Matthew 19:4, Jesus quoted from Genesis 1:26-27 and then, in verse 5, quoted from Genesis 2:24. Rather than placing man's creation later in the earth's history, He placed man's creation "in the beginning" and viewed the account of the first marriage as literal. He also believed that Abel's blood had really been shed (Gen. 4 - Mt. 23:35). In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus reminded His audience of the account of Noah and the flood; He believed in the flood! Later in the New Testament, the apostles (inspired by the Holy Spirit), compared Jesus to Adam (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:45), made reference to the account of Cain and Abel (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 2:12), and believed strongly in the account of the flood (Heb. 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20-21; 2 Peter 3:1-7).
There are other reasons to believe in the literal nature of Genesis 1-11. Historical and archaeological evidence abounds for a young earth, a global flood and even the scattering of mankind (Gen. 11). But these five reasons from within the Bible itself ought to convince us (if we believe in the inspiration of the Bible) that the days of creation were literal days and that the events of Genesis 1-11 really happened.
Rather than interpret the Bible in light of man's wisdom, let us interpret man's wisdom in light of the Bible. The Bible is not a collection of fables and myths, but contains the literal history of the world. And considering its source, it is the most reliable and accurate historical record.
In closing, Genesis 1-11 serves as the foundation of the Scriptures. If we cannot trust these accounts, how can we trust any of the Bible? If we cannot believe in the literal nature of Genesis 1-11 because these things are "unscientific," how can we accept the virgin birth of Christ or the resurrection? Christians must not compromise the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17). With patience and study, you will in fact discover that true science lines up with the biblical record.