Creation Account Theories
The first verse of the Bible is one of the most important verses to understanding the purpose of the Pentateuch and the eventual redemptive plan put in to place to restore man to his place in the land, in God's presence. However, even though Genesis 1 has some of the most important information pertaining to the rest of the Bible, it is often one of the most read over, assumed about, and speculated on passages in the Bible.
As Martin Luther stated,
"Genesis contains things the most important, and at the same time the most obscure."
Ultimately, Luther acknowledged, "About the only thing we can be sure of in this chapter was 'that the world began, and was made of God, out of nothing." As mentioned in my previous post, I would like to preface this by stating that the main point of Genesis 1:1 is in fact: (1) God created all things; (2) the world is not eternal; and (3) the universe did not create itself.
Here are six major creation theories:
Historical Creationism Theory believes Genesis is literal and realistic. There are no gaps or re-creation in the creation process. The whole universe was created "in the beginning." The term "beginning" was not an exact point of time, but a period of time. After Genesis 1:1, God then prepared "land" for man in Genesis 1 and 2.
The 24-Hour Theory believes the days of Genesis 1 are literal 24-hour days. God created the universe in six days.
The Gap Theory believes creation occurred with an indeterminate period of time, a gap, existing between the first two verses of the Genesis account. This gap allows for the earth to be ancient while still interpreting the six days of creation as literal 24-hours. This theory gained momentum in the 1800s with the introduction of the Scofield Bible.
The Day-Age Theory believes that each day in the creation account of Genesis 1 represents an era of time. The six days extend over millions or billions of years. This fits the cosmic structure. The Day-Age Theory interprets Genesis 1 as though the purpose of the passage is to provide a detailed, scientifically verifiable model of cosmic origins.
The Framework Theory believes the seven-day week is literary (theological) framework, and is not a literal explanation of creation. The text is metaphorical or figurative and falls in to a convenient topical, non-sequential order for the days of creation. This theory also fits with the cosmic structure.
Temple Inauguration Theory would be recognized to the people of the ancient world as a temple building account. This theory describes creation as a cosmic temple. The seventh day represents God inhabiting the cosmic temple. This theory is considered to be based on parallels to ancient Near East cosmogonies.
One thing to remember when examining the various theories on creation is the fact that the actual act of creation has not changed over the years, but our understanding of how it may have happened may change based on our understanding of the text. John Sailhamer compares this to looking through a telescope. Sailhamer explains,
"The data seen through the telescope didn't change over the years; what changed was the interpretation of the data. A similar problem accompanies all serious reading of Scripture. We can't help trying to make Scripture a part of our world."
May we keep this in mind as we assess the various views of creation. Ultimately, no matter which view of creation you believe is correct: (1) there are well-respected theologians that agree with you; (2) there are well-respected theologians that disagree with you; (3) the creation didn't change because you changed your mind; (4) you will never know for sure if you are correct on how it happened, but will always be correct in knowing that God created all things, the world is not eternal, and the universe did not create itself. Though it is often fun to speculate on different theories, let us not forget that God tells us what He wants us to know. We don't know exactly how the process of creation occurred, but we know for a fact that it did!