Understanding how God made things in the beginning can help us understand things now.
Many people have asked basic questions about the origins of things such as:
• "Who or what is God?"
• "What is the origin of the universe?"
• "How did life come to be?"
All these questions, and many more, are answered in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, which means origin. Here we receive God's answers about many important questions—and from Someone who was there! So let's go to this, the first book in the Bible, to find its answers to commonly asked questions.
When Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," who is God?
In this first verse, we are introduced to the majestic Creator God who made the entire universe— including us . The term for God in the original language is the Hebrew word Elohim, which is a plural term that can also have a singular meaning.
In John 1 we see why the term God can mean one or more persons. Here we read: "In the beginning was the Word , and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ... the only begotten of the Father , full of grace and truth" (verses 1, 14, emphasis added throughout).
Thus the term God applies to God the Father or God the Word (who later became Jesus Christ)—or both. They can therefore act separately or together. Notice how in Genesis 1 God can be referred to by a singular personal pronoun, " He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16). Or God can be referred to by a plural personal pronoun: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).
Both the Father and the One who became Christ were involved in creation—the second acting on behalf of the first. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, "God ... has in these last days spoken to us by His Son...through whom also He made the worlds." We thus see that God the Father created the universe through the preincarnate Jesus Christ (see also Ephesians 3:9).
Does the description in Genesis 1:1 fit with scientific explanations of the universe?
Yes, it does. Many scientists, through numerous lines of evidence, have come to accept the "Big Bang" theory of the universe in which the universe has a starting point. This indicates that nothing physical existed previous to that instant. According to this model, the universe is now expanding from that initial moment and even the background radiation from the original "explosion" can still be detected.
George S. Johnston sums it up well: "The book of Genesis has held up well under the scrutiny of modern geology and archaeology. Twentieth-century physics, moreover, describes the beginning of the universe in virtually the same cosmological terms as Genesis. Space, time and matter came out of nothing in a single burst of light entirely hospitable to carbon-based life. A growing number of chemists and biologists agree that life had its origin from clay templates... I would say all this is a curious development for Darwinists" ( Reader's Digest, May 1991, p. 31).
Even without the Big Bang model, the laws of thermodynamics—fundamental laws of the physical sciences—also indicate that the universe had a beginning. The first law states that the amount of mass-energy in the universe is constant. The second law states that the amount of energy available for work is running out.
Taken together, they require that the universe had a beginning with much usable energy from which it is now running down. Both the Big Bang theory and the laws of thermodynamics are in harmony with Genesis 1:1.
While the New International Version of the Bible translates Genesis 1:2 to say that "the earth was formless and empty," why does it have a footnote stating that the word "was" here could be "become"?
The original Hebrew for "formless and empty" ( tohu and bohu )—"without form, and void" in the King James Version—literally means "chaotic and in confusion." When God originally created the heavens and the earth, they were a thing of beauty.
Of the earth, Scripture elsewhere says that God "did not create it in vain [ tohu ]" (Isaiah 45:18). We read in Job 38:4-7 that the angels shouted for joy at the sight. But we also read in the Bible that Lucifer, one of the chief angels, rebelled against God and was cast down to the earth (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17; Luke 10:18).
It then appears that the earth became a wasteland due to Satan's rebellion, and God had to renew the face of the earth, as we read in Psalm 104:30: "You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth." The following verses in Genesis 1 reveal God raising the continents to the surface and filling them with vegetation and living creatures through six days of work.
Do plants and animals really reproduce according to their "kind," as Genesis 1 says, or did they evolve as the theory of evolution teaches?
Darwinian evolution, as taught in schools, claims all plants and animals evolved from tiny, primitive ancestors. This theory asks us to believe that microscopic kinds of creatures, such as amoebas, eventually evolved into fish, then amphibians, then birds, then mammals and finally human beings!
Yet this is directly contradicted by the scientific law of biogenesis, which has never been known to fail! It states that 1) living matter comes only from living matter and 2) living things reproduce only according to their own kind. In other words, chickens produce eggs that produce more chickens—not some other type of creature.
Changes within a species, which can be called microevolution, do indeed occur. But macroevolution, or the change from one animal kind to another, has never been verified in nature.
So apple trees keep producing apples, lions give birth to lions, bears engender more bears, and rabbits keep making rabbits—and plenty of them. So in this regard, science actually backs the Bible and not evolution!
What is meant by the statement that God created man and woman in His own image?
Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them."
This means that both man and woman reflect God—that is, they are like God in some ways because "we are the offspring of God" (Acts 17:29). Indeed, it should be noted that the first man, Adam, later begets a son in his own image and likeness (Genesis 5:1-3).
Scriptures indicate that we share some of the same characteristics of God our Father, only in a more limited way. Some of our similarities include our general shape, having dominion (rulership) over the earth, and the ability to think and communicate on far higher levels than animals.
In short, being created in God's image is what makes us human and of a different "kind" than animals. While the theory of evolution describes early man as only being capable of crude grunts, the first chapters of the book of Genesis show Adam and Eve immediately after their creation being able to name the animals, communicate in complete sentences and reason for themselves whether to obey God's instruction to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Being made in God's image also indicates the ultimate purpose for which human beings were made. Amazingly, humankind was created to be of the "God kind." Although God has made us physical beings for now, His ultimate desire is that all men and women accept His authority over their lives and eventually become part of His eternal family as His literal children (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 6:18).
For further study, send for, download or read online our free booklets Who is God? and What is Your Destiny? VT