The story of Noah’s flood leaves a lot of people- believers and skeptics alike- with a lot of questions. Where did all the water come from? Did the flood really cover the whole world? What did Noah and his family do in the ark for an entire year? How did Noah fit all the animals onto the ark? The last question presents a particular challenge to many people. The Bible says God commanded Noah to take two of every kind of animal on the ark. Since there are millions of different kinds of animals in the world today Noah could not possibly fit two of every animal on the ark. But did God command Noah to transport millions of animals?
Noah’s ark was over 450 feet long and 75 feet wide with three decks that each had approximately 35,000 square feet of floor space. The total floor space of the ark was over 105,000 square feet. This is roughly equivalent to the floor space of 260 semi-trailers (but with a lot more head room). To understand how much room there was on the ark, consider that a modern semi-trailer can haul over 30 full grown cows on 400 square feet of floor space. That means the ark had enough space on each deck to haul over 2,500 cows.
7,500 cows is a lot of beef, but that does not seem like big enough to haul two of every kind of animal in the world. Would Noah have taken on the ark a pair from every species and sub-species of air breathing animals? Would he have had two lions, two tigers, two cheetahs, two leopards, two panthers, two mountain lions and two of every variety of house cat? The Bible’s use of the word “kind” in Genesis 1 helps us understand God’s command to Noah in Genesis 6. God created the animals after their kind and told them to be fruitful and multiply. “Kind” seems directly related to the ability to interbreed.
The modern taxonomic system was invented hundreds of years after the Bible was written. The ideas of genus and species are foreign to the Bible. Modern taxonomy is one way of classifying life in the world, but not the only way. We have no reason to think the Biblical authors categorized animals in the same way we do today. God could have brought to Noah one pair of animals out of a larger set of multiple species that were able to interbreed. Instead of bringing two lions, tigers, etc., God may have brought to Noah two of the cat “kind.” This ability to interbreed is not just true of cats. Most species in the world can interbreed with other species of the same genus. If Noah took one pair from each group of animals that were able to produce fertile offspring, then the number of animals Noah had to bring on the ark would be much smaller than originally thought.
Reducing the number of animals to a reasonable estimate of the breeding kinds of non-aquatic, air breathing animals makes the number much more manageable. Biblical scholars who have done significant work in this area have concluded Noah probably had to bring ten to fifteen thousand animals on board the ark. Still sound like too many animals? If we can only get 7,500 cows on board, what about dinosaurs? Dinosaurs take up a lot more room than cows. Though there are many large animals in the world, there are many, many more small animals. The average animal size, including dinosaurs, is about the size of a sheep. At a very conservative estimate, the ark could have carried at least four times more sheep than cows. That means the ark had room for 30,000 sheep. Consider Noah was transporting these animals, not providing them a zoo like habitat. He needed space to stable them, but not room to let them run free. When you also consider the likelihood that Noah would not have brought full sized animals onto the ark, we can see how the ark had ample space for all the animals and plenty of room for Noah’s family.
The book of Genesis says, “there were giants in the earth in that day.” The same verse refers to the sons of God copulating with the daughters of man. Nothing else is said in Genesis 6 about these giants which has caused some to speculate that they were superhuman offspring of angels and men.
Fairy tales and ancient mythology describe giants as huge people at least 20 feet tall. This may cause some to think the Bible teaches that humanoid creatures dozens of feet tall lived before the flood. However, Genesis 6 is not the only or the last place in the Bible where giants are mentioned.
The most famous giant of the Bible is Goliath. Goliath is also the only giant whose height is recorded. Goliath was “six cubits and a span” tall. (1 Samuel 17:4) A cubit is approximately 18 inches long and a span is approximately 9 inches. This means Goliath was approximately 9′ 9″ tall. Goliath lived in the city of Gath about fifteen hundred years after the flood. He was a Philistine and a descendant of Anak.
The Anakim were a race of gigantic people described in the book of Numbers. The twelve spies of Israel said they saw in Canaan the sons of Anak, who were giants. (Numbers 13:32) Goliath himself had several sons who are described as being “of great stature”. Several other people groups of ancient Canaan were also gigantic. A significant percentage of certain people groups in Canaan were giants.
The Bible contains one other significant giant. He is one of the last giants mentioned in the Bible and is described as the only remaining remnant of a gigantic race of people. King Og of Bashan was a giant man with a giant bed. His height is not recorded but the dimensions of his bed are. His bed was made out of iron, was over 13 feet long and six feet wide. The size of the man cannot be determined based upon the size of his bed. His bed implies a certain magnitude and sets an upper limit on his size. Since no king was going to sleep in a bed that was too short for him, Og had to be less than 13 feet tall. While his actual size is not known he is described as a large man needing a large bed.
Several conclusions can be drawn from the post-flood descriptions of giant’s which also helps identify the giants in Noah’s day. The giants in the promised land were all descendants of Japheth’s son Canaan. Most of them were found in a few specific tribes. Those tribes were known for their tendency to produce giants. This implies the giantism of the Bible was a genetic trait passed along within a family. The ability of these giants to function as powerful warriors implies their condition was not a disorder but a viable genetic variation.
The giants of the Bible were huge men not multi-storied mostrosities. Since the Bible uses the same word to describe the giants before and after Noah’s day it is reasonable to conclude these giants were similar in size and nature. They were a variety of human, no more supernatural than pigmies are today. Japheth or his wife carried the giant genes through the flood. Japheth’s son Canaan apparently inherited the genes and passed them on to his descendants. After the dispersion of the population at the tower of Babel certain of these people groups began to express the gigantic tendency. These were human beings that grew to sizes between ten and fifteen feet tall with the strength to accompany it.
Biblical creationism is important because of the effect a wrong understanding of Genesis has on the whole of Scripture. The devastation of misunderstanding Geneis is most catastrophic when it comes to Jesus and His death on the cross for salvation. When one treats the accounts of creation as spiritual, symbolic or allegorical he leaves no rational basis on which to conclude Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation from sin is anything but spiritual, symbolic or allegorical. While many view Genesis as an allegory and Jesus’ death for sin as a historical reality, their affirming the truth about Jesus is not a result of the symbolic understanding of Genesis but contrary to it.
Why make such a strong statement? Multiple places in the New Testament draw a direct link between Jesus as the creator of Genesis and Jesus as the Savior of men. One of the reasons the Bible gives for Jesus’ ability and authority to redeem a people to Himself is that He is the creator of all. John 1 draws a clear line between the Creator and the Savior. The gospel of John intentionally copies the opening of Genesis, “In the beginning.” From the beginning of creation, John moves to discuss the one who is life, light and salvation. In the first chapter of his gospel, John introduces Jesus as the Creator who came into the world to give eternal life. In Colossians 1 Paul follows the same logical course John did. He introduces Jesus as the creator of all who took the sin of creation upon Himself on the cross. Hebrews 1 describes Jesus as God the creator who made all things and upholds all things. This same Jesus who is God the creator and God the sustainer cleansed men of sin by His death on the cross. These passages draw a significant theological and practical connection between Jesus as the Creator and Jesus as the Savior.
Some may object that these passages do not repeat the Genesis depiction of creation. One can affirm Jesus as creator through evolutionary means without undermining the truth of Jesus as Savior. This is simply not the case. In Colossians and Hebrews both passages refer to the historical events of creation, without describing the details, and to the historical events of redemption, also without describing the details. The authors clearly expected the readers to have a Biblical, historical understanding of the events to which they referred. The absence of specific details about the creation week does not mean they are up for debate, unless one is also willing to leave the details of Jesus death and resurrection open for debate. How hopeless it would be if man had nothing but a metaphorical Savior who erases metaphorical sins and promises a metaphorical heaven! If the Savior and His salvation are concrete realities, the creative work must be as well. To re-interpret those first passages which tell us of the creation and the God who created is to leave one open for reinterpretation the later work of the Creator God to redeem His creation.
On the last two Sundays of March the Everlasting Truths broadcast team aired two hours of discussion about Biblical creationism. Biblical creationism is the belief that the account of creation found in Genesis 1 and 2 is an accurate record of historical events that occurred as described in those two chapters. To some, this may seem to be a lot of time invested in something that is, at most, of secondary importance. If science has discovered life evolved as a product of chance mutations occurring over millions of years, why should Christians get in a lather and say that science is wrong? At first glance creation may seem to be unimportant in view of larger message of the Bible. In reality, the creation account of Genesis is vital to the rest of the Bible. A misunderstanding at the beginning threatens a correct understanding of the rest of the Bible.
A misunderstanding of the account of creation has profound impact on how views the Bible (and how one views the Bible has a profound impacton how one interprets the creation passages) and how one thinks about Jesus. Not that everyone who misunderstands Genesis will have a wrong understanding about Jesus and the Bible, but the logically consistent result of a rejected or wrongly understood Genesis is a wrong understanding of the Bible. Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible’s teachings. A wrong understanding of Genesis leaves the Christian with a weak foundation on which to build a Biblical theology. Without a sound Genesis foundation the Christian is forced to construct extra-Biblical buttresses and supports to uphold certain other doctrines.
Despite some arguments to the contrary, no grammatical or contextual reasons exist to conclude Genesis 1 and 2 are intended to be anything but historical fact. The words chosen and the structure of the verses show an obvious intent to declare a historical event. The later chapters of Genesis continue to communicate historical realities with the purpose of connecting the events of thousands of years ago to present day readers. The book of Genesis was written to provide the historical background of sin and the people of God. The book of Genesis was written as part of the basic foundational information needed for a right understanding of God and His plan to deliver men.
The events of Genesis 1 and 2 have an intentional connection to the rest of the history of Genesis. To doubt the creation accounts historical accuracy or to reframe it as an allegory leaves no rational basis for concluding any of the rest of Genesis is not also allegorical. If creation did not occur as described, did man sin as described? What about the flood of Noah, did that happen or is it an allegory for something else? How about the events at the Tower of Babel? Did the world rebel against God (again) and suffer God’s punishment of confusing language and dispersing the family groups, or is it a symbol of something else? If Babel in Genesis 11 is allegory, is Abraham in Genesis 12 also allegory? What about Isaac and Jacob? Is all the history of Genesis, the first 50 chapters of the Bible, just a massive picture of some other reality?
This same question also affects the rest of the Bible. When the Bible describes impossible historical events, are those just allegorical accounts that do not communicate genuine facts? If the plain language of Genesis 1 and 2 can be discarded because it is difficult, conflicts with prevailing scientific knowledge and is scorned by most of the American elite, then what reasonable basis does anyone have to keep any of the other difficult, unpopular truths of the Bible. It is no exaggeration to say that a rejection of Biblical creationism leaves one without the sound foundation necessary to accept the rest of the Bible as true. At best, the reader’s acceptance becomes an arbitrary decision based upon the individual’s subjective conclusion of the importance of a Biblical feature.
Biblical creationism is a very important subject. A wrong understanding of the opening chapters of Genesis can have significant impact on how one understands the rest of the Bible. Often the impact of rejecting or reinterpreting the Bible’s creation account is far greater than one realizes. Creation is a foundational issue that influences many core Biblical teachings. As important as Biblical creation is, does one have to accept Genesis 1-3 as literal and historical truth to be be saved?
The Bible speaks in very clear terms about those things that are most important. When it comes to the matter of salvation, the Bible states exactly the principle truths that must be professed as part of the gospel. The Bible describes in no uncertain terms what must be confessed and believed to be saved.
1 Corinthians 15 defines the gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” These things must be proclaimed when giving the gospel and must be believed to be saved. In Romans 10:9 Paul also describes the things which must be believed to be saved. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
The things which must be believed for salvation are: Jesus is God. Jesus is God who died for our sins. Jesus’ death occurred just as the Old Testament said it would and the New Testament said it did. Jesus died, was buried and restored to life by God, just as the Bible says. To be saved one must admit his own guilt, acknowledge Jesus’ deity, accept Jesus death in place of the sinner and affirm Jesus is living now and forever.
Notice these verse do not mention anything about Jesus’ creation. Though creation is inextricably linked to the message of salvation and the work of Jesus, the Bible does not anywhere require that someone accept a literal reading of the creation account in order to be saved. This does not mean creation is a non-issue. One can be saved despite a wrong understanding of creation, but a wrong understanding of Genesis will be a serious detriment to faith, knowledge of the Bible and growth in Christ.
The fossil record is one of the most common objections raised against the belief in Biblical creation. The existence of countless creatures mineralized in the rock beneath our feet raises many questions. Those who believe the earth is billions of years old believe the fossils are evidence of a long progression of creatures dying out one at a time over epochs of earths’ history. A very small percentage of those animals were buried in mud and eventually became fossils.
The fossil record is used to raise two major objections against Biblical creation. The first objection is the existence of fossils in such great volume. If God created everything in six days less than ten thousand years ago, where did all the dead animals come from to form all the fossils being found today. Today the chance of something becoming a fossil is very, very small. The conditions required for fossilization don’t happen every time an animal dies. Many assume that because the conditions to form fossils are rare today, they have always been rare. Thus a very small number of the animals that have died have become fossils. The conclusion reached then is for there to be so many fossils in the earth, many animals had to die over a period of millions of years.
The second objection is the arrangement of fossils in the layers of rock. Though the classic geologic column taught in science classes can not be found as a single unit anywhere in the world, certain kinds of fossils are usually found in similar positions throughout the rock layers. Small sea creatures tend to at the bottom of the fossil layer, with fish and amphibians above them. Farther up are reptiles and mammals. At the very top are birds and hominids.
Rock layers are often believed to have bee formed over very long periods of time as the upper layer of ground is slowly covered over and compressed downward. The formation of a new upper layer of ground is thought to happen by catastrophic dust storms, volcanic eruptions or the long process of plants and animals dying and decaying. Because the process often takes a very long time, those fossils in the lower layers are believed to be much older than those in the upper layers. This general arrangement within the strata (rock layers) leads many to conclude that the deepest fossils are the most primitive because they had less time to evolve. The increase of complex creatures as the rock layers climb upward is seen as proof of animals advancing in complexity.
Once again space does not allow for a full answer on these issues, but the Bible gives sufficient evidence to offer legitimate and reasonable alternatives to the speculations of evolutionary science. Popular conception believes God because created one man and one woman and He also only created one male and female pair of every kind of animal. The Bible does not teach God only created two of each kind of animal. Genesis 1 indicates that God filled the earth with plants and animals. He filled the earth with vast numbers of animals.
The flood of Noah provides a powerful explanation for the many things found in the fossil record today. Because the flood began with the catastrophic opening of the fountains of the great deep, it is reasonable to assume those animals living in deep waters would be affected first. As the flood waters rose, those animals least able to escape would be affected next and then the more mobile until the most mobile and able were destroyed last. The sudden deluge of water that covered the earth would have created massive landslides, mud flows and currents filled with sediment and debris. The massive movement of dirt in the flood would have provided optimal conditions for the rapid formation of many layers of rock and many thousands of fossils.
The fossil record does not disprove creation. All the fossil record reveals is many thousands of dead things are buried in the layers of rock across the world. How one interprets the fossils depends on what one believes. God’s Word gives us sufficient information to explain the fossils without the need for millions of years, an increase of animal complexity or Darwin’s speculations.
Dinosaurs are a topic of great fascination. Whether it be through incredible CGI in popular movies, massive skeletal displays in museums or colorful pictures in children’s books, dinosaurs have captured the imagination of many people. For some dinosaurs are seen as a trump card disproving creation. Some ask if God created the dinosaurs then why aren’t there any still alive today. Some ask if God created dinosaurs why doesn’t it say anything about dinosaurs in the Bible. Some think that because dinosaurs are so different from anything alive today they must have lived eons ago and thus the Bible’s description of creation is wrong.
All of these assumptions and conclusions can easily be answered with a little consideration of what the Bible teaches. The Bible does talk about dinosaurs, directly and indirectly, though it doesn’t use the word dinosaur. The reason the Bible does not use the word dinosaur is very simple. The first major English translation of the Bible still being used today is the King James Version. The King James was translated in 1611. The word dinosaur was not coined until the early 1840’s by a scientist named Richard Owen. Any reference to dinosaur’s before that date would have used a different word or words. In the Biblical passages that describe great beasts reminiscent of dinosaurs the newer Bible translations often use the same words used in the King James translation. Simply put, the word dinosaur is not found in the Bible because of it’s relatively recent invention.
Though the word dinosaur is not found in the Bible, what is found are descriptions of beasts that appear to be dinosaurs. Two such descriptions stand out from the boo of Job. A creature called Behemoth is described in Job 40, and Job 41 describes a beast known as Leviathan. Neither of these are fictitious animals and they are creatures that would have lived in the region around Job at the time he was alive. About 4,000 years ago God instructed a man to remember a pair of massive animals that he would have seen and been familiar with. The description of Behemoth in Job 40:15-24 pictures a massive creature that eats grass like cattle, has bones of great strength, has colossal strength, lives in swampy regions and around streams, is confident against all foes because of it’s great strength and has a tail like a cedar tree. Some are tempted to suggest the Behemoth was just a large elephant or rhinoceros, yet no creature other than a dinosaur fits the descriptions of massive size and strength coupled with a tree-like tail. Though the Bible does not use the word dinosaur, it certainly describes dinosaur like creatures.
God created all animals on the fifth and sixth days of creation. This includes the lumbering dinosaurs like the Apatosaurus, the fast moving dinosaurs like Velociraptors, the soaring dinosaurs like Pterodactyls (yes, I know they are not technically dinosaurs) and the swimming dinosaurs like Plesiosaurs. After creation man sinned against God and brought the curse of sin on the whole world. This curse includes suffering and death. As a result of man’s sin, many species of animals have gone extinct in the past and are going extinct today. Though some of the dinosaurs were unique and awe-inspiring, their size and strength does not mean they were not created by God. Though all the dinosaurs are extinct today, their disappearance from the Earth does not mean they were not created by God. God created all animals, including the dinosaurs. Man’s sin is responsible for their extinction, not evolutionary epochs.
Tune in this Sunday at noon on WRUP 92.7 FM to hear the first half of a special roundtable discussion about creation and evolution.
In preparation for our two part radio series on Creation and Evolution, I am using March to answer some common questions about creationism. Be sure to tune in to the broadcast at noon on March 22, 2015 to hear part one in which our pastor’s round table tackles the topic of evolution.
Some of the most common objections to Biblical Creationism (the belief that God created everything out of nothing in six days less than ten thousand years ago) come from mistaken ideas about extinct animals and paleolithic people. Because evolution asserts that hominids progressively increased in vertical mobility and intellectual capacity, cavemen are often seen as a knuckle drugging, monosyllabic phenomena unexplainable by the Bible. What does the Bible say about cavemen? Can the Bible explain cavemen?
The Bible does not specifically mention cavemen (though it does talk about several men who lived in caves at some time in their lives). Cavemen as we think of them were not described until the modern model of evolution advanced the speculations of a connected chain of increasingly intelligent hominids.
Though the Bible is silent about cavemen in particular, it does describe an event which would have forced a large portion of the human population to live in very primitive conditions. This event would have driven many people away from their cities to settle difficult regions of the world. In Genesis 11 the Bible tells of a time a couple hundred years after the flood when mankind joined together in rebellion against God. God punished man’s rebellion by causing every family group to speak a language different and then by scattering the families across the world.
These people groups traveled through inhospitable regions and then settled areas still recovering from the devastation of the flood. The sudden loss of connection with the rest of humanity would have resulted in many vital skills and technology being lost to each family. Modern examples may help guide our thinking here. Were the farmers who planted Kansas and Nebraska intellectually inferior because they lived in sod huts? Were the Indians who roamed America less intelligent because they lived in tents of animal hide and only had bow and arrow weapons? We have somehow equated technological advancement with great intellect. We assume because a people were living in caves and wearing furs (though their clothing choices is a bit of an assumption as well) they must have been dumber than we are. These people were not stupid, but rather pioneers in a post-apocalyptic world.
The cavemen were not biological inferiors who had to eventually give way to more evolved homo sapiens. The reality is “cavemen” are genetically human. Typically we consider Neanderthals (or Neandertals if you’re committed to keeping up with the popular spelling) and Cro-Magnon are consider cavemen. Both groups are readily identifiable as humans. They fall well within the normal variations for a people group, and both could live in our world today without attracting any particular attention. They were men and women created by God in His image who survived in a difficult world still reeling in the aftermath of Noah’s flood.
On the last two Sundays of March the Everlasting Truths team will be airing a two part special broadcast on the debate between creation and evolution. In the weeks leading up to that broadcast, I will be answering several common questions related to origins, science and the Bible.
Many who are of a scientific bent lament the folly of those who believe in creation and accuse creationists of rejecting science. They scoff at creationists and say things like, “rejecting evolution is like rejecting modern medicine” or ask in disbelief, “do you refuse to believe 2+2=4, as well?”. The assertion, at times implied but most often stated is that evolution is proven science. Evolution is just like bacterial and viral models of medicine or like the certainty of basic mathematical equations. Is this a valid claim?
Without arguing about evidence or presuppositions, the legitimacy of this allegation can be considered through a right understanding of the different methods by which scientific conclusions are reached. The first, and primary means, is through what is often referred to as the scientific method. The scientific method is the process by which a problem is considered, a hypothetical solution is suggested, predictions are made, tests are performed, results are analyzed, the hypothesis is refined, more tests are run and after a long series of proving and disproving possible hypotheses, a model is developed which provides a generally accepted answer to the original problem.
The second means of reaching scientific conclusions is used in those cases where direct testing is not possible. In this method a problem is considered, a hypothetical solution is suggested, predictions are made, available evidence is analyzed, and the hypotheses and predictions are refined to agree with the available evidence. As new evidence becomes available the hypothesized model is then refined further and further.
Medical sciences are for the most part observational sciences. An explanation for the source of a disease can by suggested, tested, observed, refined and repeated until the genuine source can be shown with a high degree of certainty. Most mathematics fall into the same category. Much of science takes place in the realms of observational science. However, a number of scientific endeavors take place in the other realm, the realm of conjectural sciences. These kinds of sciences include some portions of quantum physics, consideration of the ultimate structure of the universe (or multiverse if you subscribe to that hypothesis), questions regarding the growth of the universe and beliefs about the development of mankind. The fact that a branch of science is not entirely observational does not make it illegitimate. However, one must recognize the answers provided by conjectural sciences are not of the same quality or reliability as those provided by observational sciences.
Evolution is a valid scientific model. It offers a possible explanation by which to explain the origins of all things. As a scientific model it is constantly being refined as additional data is discovered. However, comparing the evolutionary model to a well-proven scientific theory, like gravitational theory, is nonsense. Evolution is not testable by repeatable experiments. It can only be compared to observations made by scientists in the world and adjusted to match the current observations. Despite its wide acceptance among scientists, evolution is not like math and medicine.