Is a Literal Interpretation of Genesis 1 Important?

By Wayne Jackson

"Many have advanced theories to stretch out the creation account from six, literal days (Gap Theory, Day-Age Theory), to millions or billions of years. As far as I have been able to ascertain, this is done to attempt a harmony between the Bible and evolutionary theory. When shown passages such as Exodus 20:11, many often retort that it doesn’t matter whether these are literal days or not, as long as we acknowledge God as the Creator.

What harm comes to the Bible and to Christianity if one rejects the notion of a literal, six-day creation, as described in Genesis 1?"

This creation account, as set forth in Genesis 1, and touched upon elsewhere in the Bible in numerous places, is unique to “origins” literature of the world. That reality alone should be a signal of the importance of maintaining the integrity of the record.

The doctrine of fiat creation is affirmed in both Testaments (Genesis 1:1-2:25; Psalm 33:9; John 1:1-3; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:3), to mention but a fraction of the references. This theme is foundational to the balance of the Bible. If one “guts” the first chapter of the Scriptures, robbing them of their historical exactness, he sets a precedent and tone that allows for a “reinterpretation” of the text throughout the remainder of the sacred canon. Whenever, then, one encounters an historical narrative that does not meet the criteria he deems to be reasonable, he will feel free to fashion it into a literary composition of his own fancy.

This is precisely the approach that modernists have taken regarding the resurrection of Jesus. Christ was not literally raised from the dead, they allege, for modern “science” knows nothing of a “bodily resurrection.” Jesus merely continues to “live” in our hearts. And so, in a manner of speaking, he was “resurrected.”

Such a procedure reflects a consummate deceitful handling of the word of truth (2 Corinthians 4:2).

As emphasized above, the creation account, and the immediate events associated with that narrative, are substructural to that which follows in divine revelation. The events of Genesis 1 undergird:

  1. The affirmation of man’s dignity; he is made in the very image of God. He is not an evolved beast.
  2. The religious and moral responsibility of humanity; i.e., the relationship of a “created” being to the “Creator” (cf. Psalm 100:3; Romans 9:21); man is required to obey his God.
  3. The regulations regarding marriage — the exclusively male/female relationship that constitutes a valid marital union — along with the one-man for one-woman arrangement. These laws are grounded in this document.
  4. The origin and consequences of human sin are here detailed.
  5. The first glimpse of Heaven’s method of redemption is previewed in the Mosaic record (Genesis 3:15), together with the selection of the Hebrew nation as a redemptive instrument in Jehovah’s plan (12:1ff).

These elements, and much more, are intimately related to the integrity of the Genesis record.

Surely the principle, enunciated in Psalm 11:3, is applicable here: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”.

The theory of evolution was concocted by men who desired to be independent of divine restraint. They proposed, therefore, another explanation for human existence. Darwinism is a baseless ideology, supported by neither Scripture nor science. As the dogma of evolution has been accepted progressively, various elements of the book of Genesis have been “de-literalized.” There was no literal Adam and Eve, no literal serpent, no literal Flood, no literal confusion of languages at Babel, etc. The sad fact is, infidelity has forged the “faith” of many!

The compromising “baggage” (e.g., the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, etc.) that frequently accompanies the afflicted views of numerous professing Christians, has resulted from the confusion of uninformed people. Such folks became bewildered by the baseless assertions of “scientism” (e.g., the notion that the earth is billions of years old), and so sought a remedy that would afford them some peace of mind. But their confidence in “science” has been terribly misguided.

When men see an alleged conflict between the Bible and science, they need to be patient — and wait for “science” to catch up with the Words of divine revelation!

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.