Can the Biblical Account of Creation Be Reconciled with Scientific Evidence? – Program 4

By: Dr. Hugh Ross, Dr. Fuz Rana, Ken Samples; ©2002
Could all the events on days 5 and 6 of creation have happened in 24 hour periods, or does the biblical record almost demand these “days” were longer periods of time? Does the scientific evidence help answer the question?

The Biblical Account of Creation: Does It Square with Science? (Day 5 and Day 6)

Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg Show why are astronomers talking about God? Does the big bang theory prove that a transcendent causal agent brought all matter, energy, space and time into existence? Our concept of the universe and how it originated shapes our entire worldview. If the universe has always existed and is nothing more than an accident then human life has no meaning. But, if the universe had a beginning and is created than the creator is the source of life who establishes purpose and meaning. What does the scientific evidence reveal? Do the words “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” accurately describe what science has discovered? My guests today are astrophysicist and astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross who received his PH.D in astronomy from the University of Toronto and did post doctoral research at Cal-Tech on Quasars, Mr. Fazale Rana who received his PH.D in chemistry at Ohio University, and Philosopher and Theologian Kenneth Samples of Biola University. We invite you to join us.
Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re talking about the fascinating topic of science and comparing the Bible with science, especially the Genesis record. Does the biblical information square with the scientific information and vice versa? And very few people do it the way we’re doing it here, where we’re just going through “A, B, C, D” and saying, “What does the Bible say?” and then, “Does this square with science?”
And let’s start off with Days 5 and 6 right now. This is the spot that we’re in:
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the fifth day. (Gen. 1:20-23)
Ken, what’s going on here?
Samples: Well, again, as we’ve seen before, God creates a world that is good. Previously, He created the vegetation. Now we see Him creating life and complex life, both in the sea and in the air. And there is this continual progression of God creating life for a world that He has prepared.
Ankerberg: Does this square with the scientific evidence, Hugh? We’ve got the waters teeming with living creatures, birds flying above the earth, God creating the great creatures of the sea, birds again. Are these accurate statements of science?
Ross: Well, yes, they are. The creation of all these swarms of small sea creatures: I see that as a reference to the Cambrian Explosion where you’ve got this eruption of complex life all suddenly showing up upon the scene, predominantly marine life. And then later on you have God creating these birds and mammals, completely different creatures. Notice, He uses the word “create.” So this isn’t something like, “Let the land produce” or “Let the oceans produce.” This is God intervening supernaturally to create something that didn’t exist before. So that tells us that these animals are different from any other animals that existed before. They are these soulish creatures, the nephesh creatures as it says in the Hebrew, endowed by God with mind, will, and emotions so that they can relate at a more intimate level with the future human beings. Birds and sea mammals show up millions of years ago in the fossil record. In the sixth day we’ll talk about land mammals, but really, specific kinds of land mammals.
Ankerberg: Yeah. That word nephesh, I was thinking of the dolphins, and how you can be friends with the dolphins and everybody that’s got a dog and a cat… Are we to dogs and cats yet?
Ross: Yes.
Ankerberg: Okay. Dogs and cats, they have this nephesh, this kind of ability to relate to human beings. Is that what we’re talking about?
Ross: It’s not just an ability to relate to us, it’s like God programmed these birds and mammals to want to please us. I mean, growing up in Canada, I saw that with animals that had never had contact with human beings. The first time you run into them, it’s like they want to be around you, they want to receive affection and attention from you. Somebody must have programmed that into them.
Ankerberg: Hugh, why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?
Ross: It doesn’t mention dinosaurs because dinosaurs weren’t even discovered until a couple hundred years ago. The Bible is really written to all generations, people of all different backgrounds, and so dinosaurs simply wouldn’t make the list of the most significant things for God to talk about. They’re important, but in terms of 13 things you’re going to pick to speak to all human beings, dinosaurs don’t make the cut.
Ankerberg: Would this have been the day that they were created?
Ross: I believe they were created in the fifth creation day.
Ankerberg: Okay. What about the dinosaur footprints in the Puluxy Riverbed in Texas?
Ross: Well, there’s no scientific credibility to that claim. The gait of the prints is the same as the gait for dinosaurs, about a foot longer….
Ankerberg: The reason it is very controversial is because some people say that there are man’s footprints next or overlapped with the dinosaur footprints, for people that don’t know. So let’s bring that up. Now, what’s the evidence show?
Ross: Well, for example, when you pull your foot out of soft clay in a river-type bed environment, you notice that soft clay will fill in the print that you made. So it’s typical that many of the prints will be smaller than the original foot that made them. So what some scientists have done is they’ve gone to these so-called human prints and actually used a brush to erode away the soft material and recover the original three-toed dinosaur print. There’s a chemical coloration at the base of the print that tells you what species made that print – not human, it’s dinosaur. And again, the gait is different; it’s about a foot longer than the human gait. And with some of these so-called human prints you see at the back a claw mark. We human beings don’t have a claw coming out of our heel but dinosaurs do. That’s just a few of the evidences, but it’s such that even creationists pushing this point of view, like the Institute for Creation Research, have quietly said we’re not going to promote that anymore.
Ankerberg: Okay. Fuz, there’s a battle going on here between naturalism and what God is saying that He just created. And the fossil record is always supposed to be this proof for evolution: that we’ve got the transitions from lower to higher forms and so on. But the fact is, the fossil record, is that what it shows?
Rana: Well, the fossil record, in my opinion, provides very powerful evidence for biblical creation, because in terms of general features, you see sudden appearance of new forms, sudden appearance of major groups. Whenever mammals appear, when bird appears multiple times in the fossil record in the Cretaceous and in the Tertiary, you see this explosion of diversity. They’re called radiations, but in a very narrow window of time there’s this explosion of forms. You see no transitional forms, so to speak. You see stasis. Once these forms appear, they remain unchanged for hundreds of millions of years in some cases, or tens of millions of years at least. This is exactly what you would expect to see if biblical creation was true and this type of fossil evidence is completely in contradiction to the predictions you’d make for the theory of evolution.
Ankerberg: Hugh, in every one of the biology textbooks the students will be told that whales and horses are great transitional animals to look at. Okay? In other words, this shows us the evolutionary line going up. You say whales are one of the worst illustrations. How so?
Ross: And horses as well.
Ankerberg: Horses as well.
Ross: The evolutionists are right. We do see what look like lots of transitional forms for the whale line and the horse line. But in terms of looking at how you would get a species changing into a different species through natural selection mutation, you’re going to need a species to make that process efficient enough to have an extremely large population. The larger the population, the more opportunities you have for mutational advance. You want creatures that are relatively small in body size so they won’t have to eat very much, less subject to changes in the environment. And you want it to be able to react quickly and to take advantage of these mutational changes, which means a generation time must be relatively brief. The problem with whales and horses is they have an enormous body size, very low population levels relative to other species of life, and the generation time is long. Furthermore, whales and horses do not produce very many progeny per adult pair.
And so for these four reasons we would look at whales and horses as being the worst evolvers that we see in the fossil record. They would have very slow rates of evolutionary advance. Moreover, they’re the species most subject to natural extinction. The bigger you are, the smaller your population; the longer your generation time, the more subject you are to disasters in the natural environment that would lead to extinction. In fact, some ecologists calculate that for a whale species, its extinction time is on the order of a million years or less. In fact, in the twentieth century, we’ve seen several whale species go extinct.
So, John, this explains why there are so many transitional forms for whales and horses. They go extinct rapidly. They have zero chance for evolutionary advance. But God likes whales and horses, so He keeps making new species of whales and horses every time one goes extinct. We don’t see transitional forms for cockroaches because they don’t go extinct that rapidly.
Ankerberg: Ken, what else should we pull out of Day 5?
Samples: Well, again, it’s important to recognize that God is the transcendental Creator. He stands behind nature. We’re not to engage in worship of nature. We’re to worship the Creator for His wisdom and His power.
Ankerberg: Alright. We’re going to talk about when man was created – Day 6. Let me read the record and let’s find out if the Bible and science square up here.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” [Gen. 1:24-27]
What’s going on here, Ken?
Samples: This is really a critical section here, John. God creates the land mammals. He also creates man. There’s some really important ideas here. He creates human beings in His expressed image. Now, He takes the dust of the ground, the same dust of the ground that He has created the animals – and so I think it’s important for us to realize, biblically, we shouldn’t be surprised if there’s some kind of physiological affinity between animals and humans – yet, when He breathes into the dust of the ground, He creates a living soul. I think we should anticipate, from a biblical model, that human beings will be “like” and “unlike” animals, just as we will be “like” and “unlike” God. We’re created in God’s image. While Scripture doesn’t tell us explicitly what that means, it certainly implies our rationality, our ability to make moral choices and to deliberate; that we’re relational creatures, we communicate, that we are capable of powerful actions in the world, taking dominion, and that we are soulish and spiritual creatures. And, in light of what we know today, He creates males and females, and they then have marriage. And so some critical cultural, philosophical and theological truths there in Day 6.
Ankerberg: Okay. How is man unlike the animals?
Samples: Unlike in their rational capacity, unlike in their ability to discern and make moral choices, heightened awareness of communication, and we are spiritual creatures, uniquely made in God’s image.
Ankerberg: And how are we “like” them?
Samples: It would seem to me that we are made in a similar way from the dust of the ground. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there is some kind of physical affinity at some level. And in fact, I think that’s what we find.
Ankerberg: Okay, the account says three specific kinds of land mammals are made here. Talk about what that is scientifically.
Ross: Yeah, this is different from the fifth creation day where it addresses birds generically and sea mammals generically. The sixth creation day talks about three specialized kinds of land mammals, land mammals that God creates to cohabit the planet with the future human beings. And two kinds are long-legged and one kind is short-legged. The short-legged ones, the ones that are built close to the ground, I think, are referring to rodents and rabbits, maybe other creatures with short legs. And the long-legged ones we note are in two categories: there is the wild, and then there is the behemah, which I think is reference to the herbivores which are relatively easy for human beings to tame. And then the wild animals, I think, is a reference to the carnivores, although difficult to tame, make excellent household pets, whereas, the herbivores do not make good household pets.
Ankerberg: Alright, Fuz, let me come to you. The fact is, the Bible says God created man. Okay? What’s the parameters, from the biblical genealogies, what’s the longest space of time where we’ve got to say, “That’s it! We can’t go any further than that?” And then compare that with science: What are the parameters there for the science area? Where does man show up?
Rana: From the genealogies you can infer roughly anywhere from 10,000 years ago to probably 100,000 years ago. That’s the window. The most likely time frame would be in the 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 year window. From genetic studies of modern human populations we see a date for the origin of man in the neighborhood of 50,000 years ago. The archaeological record shows a sudden burst of human culture at that same time frame as well. So the scientific evidence is fully compatible with what the Bible teaches about the origin of man.
Ankerberg: Okay, Hugh, the evolutionary theory says that we evolved from apes, and yet modern genetic research is showing that can’t be. Why?
Ross: Well, we’re able to use mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome to trace back a few tens of thousands of years. And the species of bipedal primates previous to us, the Neanderthals, has DNA that’s so radically different from human DNA the geneticists have concluded there’s no possibility that Neanderthals could have contributed anything to the human gene pool. So they are a separate species; they’re not part of the descent that led to human beings.
Ankerberg: Were the ape-like creatures, guys, a wasteful idea on God’s part? I mean, why were they out there?
Ross: Well, I think there is a reason for God creating every species, not that we know the reason for every species. There, after all, were nearly a billion of them over the course of the history of the earth. But with respect to the bipedal primates, I think they could have played a significant role in preparing bird and mammal species to deal with the significant threat of human beings. I mean, once human beings rebelled against God’s authority, they began to abuse their environment. And because birds and mammals have been programmed to an affinity with human beings, they were most subject to destruction by human beings. And God creating over a few million years previous to Adam and Eve a few species of bipedal primates – note that each species was progressively a little more capable in hunting than the previous one – this would be a good way to prepare birds and mammals to deal with the problems that the human species would bring upon them.
Ankerberg: Okay. I had a professor one time who said that “you creationists believe that God created the world in 4,004 BC.” I said, “It’s not in the Bible.” He said, “Oh, yes it is. Get it out.” And so I gave him my Bible. He looked all over for it. He didn’t realize that was Archbishop Ussher’s date that he had put together a long time ago and it was a good guess but it wasn’t accurate. Now, why is it that we don’t believe that God said man was created in 4,004 BC?
Ross: Well, that would presume that there are no gaps in the genealogies. And if you look at the New Testament genealogies back to Adam, you see that it has a name in it that’s not present in the Genesis 11 genealogy, so there are gaps in the genealogy. The question is, How many gaps? And Fuz gave us a good range of what the dates would be: 10,000-100,000 years ago. And then, secondarily, we recognize that it’s an open question whether the word translated as “day” in Genesis 1 refers to a 12-hour period, a 24-hour period, or an extended but finite period of time. And there are 20 creation accounts in the Bible, and the only way that we’ve been able to see to keep those 20 different creation accounts consistent so that they don’t contradict one another is that these days of creation are long periods of time.
Ankerberg: Ken, a very important question. Does a six long creation day account contradict the Bible itself when the Bible says that death entered the world, specifically referring to Romans 5:12 where it says, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and this way death came to all man because all sinned.” Does this verse imply that no death of any kind for any creature existed before Adam sinned?
Samples: Exegetical considerations in Romans 5 do not demand that there was a systemic change in the laws of physics and that there was no death prior to Adam’s fall into sin. In fact, as we look very carefully at the passage in light of Genesis 3, we discover that Paul is talking about human death. He is talking about both our physical and spiritual repercussions that come from the Fall. So not only does Romans 5 not demand this particular viewpoint, but as we look at the book of Genesis, we see that it’s clear that there was some type of death prior to the Fall.
Ankerberg: That’s why a lot of people want the dinosaurs to be equal with man, because they went to dinosaurs in terms of the ones that would kill other animals to be around that time after Adam sinned. But the fact is, you’re saying that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Another way of asking the question would be, could a God of love allow carnivorous behavior before Adam sinned?
Ross: Yeah. I would argue that carnivorous behavior really is a benefit for the herbivores. You take away the carnivores, the quality of life rapidly deteriorates for the herbivores. In fact, the level of death goes up for the herbivores if you take the carnivores away. So I can understand where we would react to human death, because human death involves spiritual death as well as physical death. But who’s to say that the physical death of bacteria and plants is necessarily evil? It could have a very good purpose.
Ankerberg: Isn’t the death that Adam experienced carefully qualified in Romans 5:12 as being visited on all men, not the animals?
Ross: It says death through sin was visited upon all men. Only one species can die through sin, and the text says “to all men,” not to all life.
Ankerberg: Okay. Let’s have a wrap-up to this whole series, and Fuz, let’s come to you to start with. How do you wrap this up?
Rana: Well, I think what I would say is that the perception commonly among Christians and non-Christians alike is that science has made the Christian faith unbelievable. And there is this fear that science somehow challenges the Christian faith from a Christian perspective. And non-Christians in a sense delight in that idea. But really what these programs have shown is that scientific evidence overwhelming supports the validity of Christianity.
Ankerberg: Ken, if the biblical account is true and the science is true, and they both are, you’re dealing with a God who intervenes in history, loves man, and a whole bunch more. What else?
Samples: Well, Colossians 1:16 indicates that Jesus Christ Himself is the Creator of the universe, “For by Him [Christ] all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or powers, or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Christianity was really the foundational worldview that produced science itself.
Ankerberg: Yeah. The Creator visited the creation, which is just a mind-bending story all by itself. Hugh, what should we conclude from looking at all these programs?
Ross: Well, as you go throughout the Bible it tells us that “the heavens [the creation] declares God’s glory,” [Psa. 19:1] His power, His care, His love, His righteousness, and His wisdom. In these programs, we’ve noticed whatever discipline of science you care to look at, you’re finding overwhelming evidences – progressively overwhelming evidences – for God’s care, love, and wisdom and glory and power. And in the days ahead, we can look forward to many more. Every day scientists are making discoveries that show more of God’s glory and righteousness.
Ankerberg: Yeah. I love that verse, John 1:3: “All things were made by Him [referring to Christ], and without Him was not anything made that was made.” And it’s a tremendous amount of evidence for us to look at to then decide to put our faith in the Creator who came and died for us and wants to have that personal relationship with us. Folks, I would heartily recommend that to you. And guys, thank you for all of this great information that you’ve given to us. Thank you for coming and being with us.

2 Comments

  1. Jim Yust on November 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    In the most precise and shortest response, how can I tell my son-in-law how carbon dating shows the scientific proof of God’s creation?

    If on a DVD or in a short book and I have to purchase either one or both materials, I will be more than happy to do so.

    God Bless,
    Jim Yust

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