Archives for posts with tag: creation

www.jw.org

BILLIONS of people have read or heard what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe. The 3,500-year-old account starts with the well-known statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Many people, however, are unaware of the fact that Christendom’s leaders, including so-called creationists and fundamentalists, have spun the Bible account of creation into numerous tales that deviate from what the Bible really says. These interpretations fly in the face of scientific fact. Even though those tales are not found in the Bible, they have caused some people to dismiss the Bible account as mythical allegory.

The real Bible story of creation has gone largely unnoticed. This is a shame, for the Bible actually presents a very logical and credible explanation of the beginning of the universe. What is more, that explanation harmonizes with scientific discovery. Yes, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Bible’s untold story of creation!

THE UNCREATED CREATOR

Infinity

The Bible account of creation hinges on the fact that there is a Supreme Being, Almighty God, who created all things. Who is he, and what is his nature? The Bible reveals that he is quite different from the deities found in popular culture and mainstream religion. He is the Creator of all things, but most people know very little about him.

  • God is a person, an individual. He is not a vague force devoid of personality, floating aimlessly throughout the universe. He has thoughts, feelings, and goals.

  • God has infinite power and wisdom. This explains the complex design found everywhere in creation, especially in living things.

  • God created all physical matter. Hence, he cannot be made of physical elements that he himself has created. Rather, he is of a spiritual, or nonphysical, nature.

  • God’s existence is not limited by time. He has always existed and will always exist. Hence, no one created him.

  • God has a personal name, which is used thousands of times in the Bible. That name is Jehovah.

  • Jehovah God loves and cares for humans.

 HOW LONG DID GOD TAKE TO CREATE THE UNIVERSE?

Face of a clock

The Bible states that God created “the heavens and the earth.” This broad statement, however, makes no reference to the length of time involved in creating the universe or to the methods he used to shape it. What about the widespread creationist belief that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days? This concept, widely rejected by scientists, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the Bible account. Consider what the Bible really says.

The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days

  • The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days.

  • The Bible frequently uses the term “day” to designate various periods of time. In some cases these periods are of an unspecified length. The account of creation found in the Bible book of Genesis is one example of this.

  • In the Bible account, each of the six creative days could have lasted for thousands of years.

  • God had already created the universe, including a lifeless planet Earth, by the time the first creative day began.

  • Evidently the six creative days were long periods during which Jehovah God prepared the earth for human habitation.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with scientific conclusions about the age of the universe.

DID GOD USE EVOLUTION?

Theoretical process of evolution

Many who do not believe in the Bible embrace the theory that living things emerged from lifeless chemicals through unknown and mindless processes. Supposedly, at some point a bacteria-like, self-replicating organism arose, gradually branching out into all the species that exist today. This would imply that ultimately the mind-bogglingly complex human actually evolved from bacteria.

The theory of evolution is also embraced by many who claim to accept the Bible as the word of God. They believe that God produced the first burst of life on earth but then simply monitored, and perhaps steered, the process of evolution. That, however, is not what the Bible says.

The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind

  • According to the Bible, Jehovah God created all the basic kinds of plant and animal life, as well as a perfect man and woman who were capable of self-awareness, love, wisdom, and justice.

  • The kinds of animals and plants created by God have obviously undergone changes and have produced variations within the kinds. In many cases, the resulting life-forms are remarkably different from one another.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.

 A CREATOR PERCEIVED IN CREATION

In the mid-1800’s, British biologist Alfred Russel Wallace agreed with Charles Darwin on the theory of evolution by natural selection. But even this renowned evolutionist is said to have stated: “For those who have eyes to see and minds accustomed to reflect, in the minutest cells, in the blood, in the whole earth, and throughout the stellar universe . . . , there is intelligent and conscious direction; in a word, there is Mind.”

Almost two thousand years before Wallace, the Bible had already observed: “For [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) From time to time, you might want to take a moment to reflect on the marvelous complexities found in nature—from a single blade of grass to the countless heavenly bodies. By examining creation you can perceive the Creator.

‘But if there is a loving God who created all things,’ you may ask, ‘why would he permit suffering? Has he abandoned his earthly creation? What does the future hold?’ The Bible contains many other untold stories—truths that have been buried under human ideas and religious agendas and, therefore, hidden from most people. The publishers of this magazine, Jehovah’s Witnesses, would be happy to help you examine unadulterated Bible truth and learn more about the Creator and the future of his human creation.


www.jw.org

The Bible’s answer

Yes, for although the Bible is not a science textbook, it is accurate when it mentions matters of science. Consider some examples showing that science and the Bible agree and that the Bible contains scientific facts that differed greatly from the beliefs of many people living at the time it was written.

  • The universe had a beginning. (Genesis 1:1) In contrast, many ancient myths describe the universe, not as being created, but as being organized from existing chaos. The Babylonians believed that the gods that gave birth to the universe came from two oceans. Other legends say that the universe came from a giant egg.

  • The universe is governed day-to-day by rational natural laws, not by the whims of deities. (Job 38:33; Jeremiah 33:25) Myths from around the world teach that humans are helpless before the unpredictable and sometimes merciless acts of the gods.

  • The earth is suspended in empty space. (Job 26:7) Many ancient peoples believed that the world was a flat disk supported by a giant or an animal, such as a buffalo or a turtle.

  • Rivers and springs are fed by water that has evaporated from the oceans and other sources and then has fallen back to earth as rain, snow, or hail. (Job 36:27, 28; Ecclesiastes 1:7;Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:6) The ancient Greeks thought that rivers were fed by underground ocean water, and this idea persisted into the 18th century.

  • The mountains rise and fall, and today’s mountains were once under the ocean. (Psalm 104:6, 8) In contrast, several myths say that the mountains were created in their current form by the gods.

  • Sanitary practices protect health. The Law given to the nation of Israel included regulations for washing after touching a dead body, quarantining those with infectious disease, and disposing of human waste safely. (Leviticus 11:28; 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 23:13) By contrast, one of the Egyptian remedies in use when these commands were given called for applying to an open wound a mixture that included human excrement.

Are there scientific errors in the Bible?

A reasonable examination of the Bible shows the answer to be no. Here are some common misconceptions about the scientific accuracy of the Bible:

Myth: The Bible says that the universe was created in six 24-hour days.

Fact: According to the Bible, God created the universe in the indefinite past. (Genesis 1:1) Also, the days of creation described in chapter 1 of Genesis were epochs whose length is not specified. In fact, the entire period during which earth and heaven were made is also called a “day.”—Genesis 2:4.

Myth: The Bible says that vegetation was created before the sun existed to support photosynthesis.—Genesis 1:11, 16.

Fact: The Bible shows that the sun, one of the stars that make up “the heavens,” was created before vegetation. (Genesis 1:1) Diffused light from the sun reached the earth’s surface during the first “day,” or epoch, of creation. As the atmosphere cleared, by the third “day” of creation, the light was strong enough to support photosynthesis. (Genesis 1:3-5, 12, 13) Only later did the sun become distinctly visible from the surface of the earth.—Genesis 1:16.

Myth: The Bible says that the sun revolves around the earth.

Fact: Ecclesiastes 1:5 says: “The sun rises, and the sun sets; then it hurries back to the place where it rises again.” However, this statement merely describes the apparent motion of the sun as viewed from the earth. Even today, a person can use the words “sunrise” and “sunset,” yet he knows that the earth revolves around the sun.

Myth: The Bible says that the earth is flat.

Fact: The Bible uses the phrase “the ends of the earth” to mean “the most distant part of the earth”; this does not imply that the earth is flat or that it has an edge. (Acts 1:8; footnote) Likewise, the expression “the four corners of the earth” is a figure of speech referring to the entire surface of the earth; today a person might use the four points of the compass as a similar metaphor.—Isaiah 11:12; Luke 13:29.

Myth: The Bible says that the circumference of a circle is exactly three times its diameter, but the correct value is pi (π), or about 3.1416.

Fact: The measurements of “the Sea of cast metal” given at 1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chronicles 4:2indicate that it had a diameter of 10 cubits and that “it took a measuring line 30 cubits long to encircle it.” These dimensions might have been merely the nearest round numbers. It is also possible that the circumference and diameter represented inner and outer measurements of the basin respectively.


www.jw.org

INTERVIEW | IRÈNE HOF LAURENCEAU

Dr. Irène Hof Laurenceau practices orthopedic surgery in Switzerland. At one time she doubted God’s existence. But some years later she came to the conclusion that God exists and that he is the Creator of life. Awake! asked her about her work and her faith.

What aroused your interest in science?

As a child, I was fascinated by nature. I grew up in Richterswil, a beautiful Swiss village on the shore of Lake Zurich. My parents and older siblings would take me for walks and tell me about the creatures and plants we saw along the way.

Why did you study orthopedic surgery?

For a short time, my father worked as an attendant in an operating room at a local hospital. What he saw moved him to speak enthusiastically about surgery. His enthusiasm excited me so much that I later chose surgery as a profession. I specialized in orthopedic surgery because I like the mechanical aspects of it. Orthopedic surgeons have to think like an engineer in order to repair the bones, muscles, and tendons that enable us to move about.

Most of all, I enjoy seeing my patients’ health improve. I really like working closely with people.

Why did you doubt God’s existence?

My doubts began in my youth, and two factors in particular influenced me. First, I discovered that certain religious instructors at church were immoral, and this disturbed me considerably. Second, at school, some of my biology teachers believed in evolution—a teaching I came to accept, especially when I went to a university.

Why did you accept evolution?

I believed my professors. Additionally, I thought that the similarity in anatomy between  certain kinds of animals pointed to a common ancestry and supported the notion that genetic mutations lead to new species.

Yet, in time you changed your mind. Why?

A friend invited me to a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was impressed by the friendly congregation and the informative talks. Later, a pleasant lady from the congregation visited me, and I asked her, “How can I be sure that the Bible is true?”

She showed me Bible prophecies about many events that characterize our times. An example is Jesus’ prophecy that the last days of the present world would be marked by international warfare, “great earthquakes,” and rampant “pestilences and food shortages.” * She also pointed out prophecies that foretold the social breakdown and increase in greed and other badness that we see so much of today. * Before long, I began to study the Bible in earnest and soon realized that its predictions always come true. I also began to reexamine my views on the origin of life.

Did your medical research help you to reason on the origin of life?

Yes. When I started studying the Bible, I was researching knee surgery. Beginning in the late 1960’s, scientists began to understand the knee’s intricate mechanism more clearly. They found that our knee does not only bend on a single axis like a hinge. Rather, it both rolls and glides—an ingenious combination that gives the knee a greater range of movement, enabling us to walk, dance, skate, and do a host of other things.

For some 40 years, researchers have tried to design an artificial knee. But the complexity of the human knee makes it difficult to duplicate. Moreover, compared with our knee, artificial products have a relatively short life span. Even with improved materials at their disposal, those designers are pleased if their products last 20 years. Our knee, of course, is made of living cells that are constantly renewed. To me, the knee testifies, not to the blind processes of evolution, but to the wisdom of God.

What about mutations and the similarity in anatomy between certain species?

That similarity points to the same Designer. Moreover, mutations do not improve the designs in living organisms by elevating them to a higher kind. Rather, mutations tend to damage genes. Of course, it is possible that an accident can serve a beneficial purpose—such as when, say, a train crashes into a bridge and wrecks it, thus protecting the city from an invading army. But that accident did not improve the city. Likewise, mutations do not improve organisms. And they could never produce something so brilliantly designed as the human knee—not to mention other parts of the human body.

___________________________________________

Mutations could never produce something so brilliantly designed as the human knee

___________________________________________

Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

When I began to apply Bible principles, the quality of my life improved markedly. Additionally, in 2003, I went to an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses and saw extraordinary family-like unity there, even among delegates who had never met one another before. That was love in action, and I wanted to be a part of it.


www.jw.org

Brett Schenck is a retired environmental consultant in the United States. He studied the interdependency of plants, animals, and the environment. Why does he believe in a Creator? Awake! asked him about his science and his faith.

What is your background?

My father was a mechanical engineer. He often talked enthusiastically to me about math and science. As a boy, I was fascinated by the plants and animals in the creeks and pools near my home in New Paris, Ohio, U.S.A. So when I went to Purdue University, I chose to study ecology.

Did religion interest you?

Yes, it did. Dad encouraged me to study our Lutheran religion. I studied Koine (common) Greek, one of the languages in which the Bible was first written. I developed deep respect for the Bible.

How did you view the theory of evolution?

My church accepted it. My colleagues believed it. So I never questioned it. But I also believed in God. I had a foggy notion that the two beliefs were compatible. Although I respected the Bible, I didn’t think it came from God.

What made you change your view of the Bible?

Two of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Steve and Sandy, visited my wife, Debbie, and me. They showed us that the Bible, though not a science textbook, is scientifically accurate. For example, it says of God: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) It also says: “He is . . . hanging the earth upon nothing.” (Job 26:7) At that time, I was using satellite photographs to study ecology, so these scriptures impressed me. They were written long before anyone photographed the circle of  the earth hanging on nothing. As my wife and I studied the Bible with Steve and Sandy, I learned of prophecies that had come true, advice that works, and explanations that satisfied me. Gradually, I became convinced that the Bible is the Word of God.

When did you change your mind about the origin of life?

Eventually, Steve showed me the Bible’s clear statement: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground.” (Genesis 2:7) The first man has a documented life history. This raised the question: Is the Bible in harmony with scientific facts? Steve encouraged me to research the matter, so I did.

What did you learn about evolution?

Many things. To mention just one, the evolution theory attempts to explain the origin of species. Living things are made up of efficient organs, such as the heart, lungs, and eyes. Also, at the microscopic level, we see marvelously designed ‘machines’ within cells. Where do the designs for those come from? Evolutionists claim that the best mechanisms are automatically selected because the living things that have them survive better. But that idea does not answer the question: Where do the mechanisms come from? I learned that many scientists do not believe that the evolution theory answers that question. A professor of zoology confided to me that he did not believe any of the theories of evolution. However, he did not air his views for fear of losing his job.

Does your knowledge of ecology strengthen your faith?

Yes, it does. My work involved studying how living things depend on each other. On earth, all living things depend on something else. Consider flowers and bees, for example. The color, fragrance, nectar, and structure of flowers are designed to attract bees and to sprinkle them with pollen. Bees are designed to extract nectar and to take one flower’s pollen to another plant for fertilization. Clearly, the flowers and bees are designed to supply what the other needs.

‘The resilience of the entire system of life on earth convinces me that life was designed by God’

In an ecosystem, we see interdependence on a vast scale. An ecosystem is an environment with a community of perhaps thousands of types of animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi. All animals depend on plants for food and oxygen, and most flowering plants depend on animals. Although ecosystems are exceedingly complex and the organisms in them are fragile, they may continue surviving for millennia. Even after damage by pollution, once the source of pollution is gone, a complex ecosystem soon develops again. When I think about the resilience of the entire system of life on earth, I am convinced that life was designed by God.

Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I was deeply concerned about the way human society is ruining the environment. I knew that although ecosystems are resilient, they are not indestructible. I learned from Jehovah’s Witnesses that, according to the Scriptures, God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) Those words were important to me. As I continued studying the Bible, I gradually realized that the hope that the Bible presents is sure.

I enjoy sharing my beliefs with others, and I have studied the Bible with some scientists. At age 55, I took early retirement to spend more time helping people to understand the Creator of life and his purpose for our magnificent earth.