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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.

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The Bible clearly tells us what Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ, will do about the suffering caused by Satan the Devil. “For this purpose the Son of God [Jesus] was made manifest,” declares the Bible, “to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) The present system of things based on greed, hatred, and wicked deeds will be broken up. As for “the ruler of this world”—Satan the Devil—Jesus promises that he “will be cast out.” (John 12:31) Without Satan’s influence, a righteous new world will be established, and this earth will become a peaceful place.—2 Peter 3:13.

What about those who stubbornly refuse to change their ways and who insist on doing bad things? Reflect on this straightforward promise: “Only the upright will reside in the earth, and the blameless will remain in it. As for the wicked, they will be cut off from the earth, and the treacherous will be torn away from it.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) Gone will be the influence of wicked humans. Under such peaceful conditions, obedient humans will gradually be set free from inherited imperfection.—Romans 6:17, 18; 8:21.

In that new world, how will God eliminate badness? Not by nullifying the gift of free will and making humans robots. Rather, he will teach obedient humans his ways, helping them to turn around from harmful thoughts and actions.

God will remove all causes of suffering

What will God do about unforeseen calamities? He has promised that his Kingdom governmentwill shortly take control of the earth. The God-appointed King of that Kingdom is Jesus Christ, who has the power to cure the sick. (Matthew 14:14) Jesus also has the power to control the forces of nature. (Mark 4:35-41) Hence, gone will be the suffering caused by “time and unexpected events.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Under Christ’s rulership, no calamity will befall mankind.—Proverbs 1:33.

What about the millions of innocent people who have suffered tragic deaths? Shortly before bringing his friend Lazarus back to life, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Yes, Jesus has the power to resurrect, or bring back to life, those who have died!

If the idea of living in a world where bad things will not happen to good people appeals to you, why not make it your aim to learn more about the true God and his purpose by studying the Bible? Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to help you to gain that knowledge. You have our warm invitation to contact them locally or to write to the publishers of this magazine.


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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.


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Our planet is ideally suited to host life. It has abundant water, which isessential for life. The earth’s tilt, rotation, and orbit are all just right to prevent the oceans from freezing over or boiling away. And the earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect it from deadly radiation. The interdependent web of plant and animal life on earth is simply amazing. Consequently, many people have concluded that our planet was designed for a purpose.—Read Isaiah 45:18.

But you may wonder, ‘Is suffering and injustice part of that purpose?’—Read Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.

Will earth’s purpose be accomplished?

The earth was designed to be a happy home for people who respect one another and love their Creator. Thus, human life has a higher purpose than plant or animal life. We can understand who our Creator is and admire and imitate his love and justice.—Read Ecclesiastes 12:13; Micah 6:8.

Our Maker can accomplish all that he purposes to do. So we can be sure that he will do away with suffering and injustice and make our planet a perfectly happy home for mankind.—Read Psalm 37:11, 29;Isaiah 55:11.

 


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The answer could change your life.


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“I felt like a mouse running on a treadwheel and getting nowhere. I often worked 16-hour days with rarely a weekend off. I felt angry because I only ever saw my little girl asleep. Stress was making me sick.”—Kari, Finland.

KARI’S experience is not unusual. According to a mental-health charity in the United Kingdom, 1 in 5 British workers said that stress had made them physically ill during their career, and unmanageable pressure had caused 1 in 4 to cry while at work. Prescriptions for antidepressants saw an unprecedented rise during one recent year of economic recession.

What has caused you stress?

  • Insecurity—financial or otherwise

  • A demanding routine

  • Interpersonal conflicts

  • A traumatic experience

How has stress affected you?

  • Health disorders

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Sleep problems

  • Depression

  • Deteriorating relationships

 Stress activates an amazing system in your body—your emergency response system. Hormones are released to increase your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. In addition, reserves of blood cells and glucose flood into your bloodstream. This cascade of reactions prepares you to deal with the stressor, the stimulus causing the stress. After the stressor has passed, your body may return to normal. But when a stressor remains, it can leave you chronically anxious or tense, like a motor that stays revved up. So learning how to deal with stress is important to both your physical and your mental well-being.

Managing Stress

Stress in itself is not necessarily harmful. The American Psychological Association has noted: “Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue, really, is how to manage it.”

Adding another dimension, people vary in temperament and general health. So what stresses one person may not stress another. That said, you are likely overstressed if your regular routine makes you so tense that you cannot relax or deal with the occasional emergency.

To help them “cope” with chronic stress, some people turn to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Others begin abnormal eating patterns or sit passively in front of a TV or computer—habits that do not address the underlying problem but may, in fact, exacerbate it. How, then, can we learn to manage stress effectively?

Many people have been able to manage life’s stresses by applying the practical advice found in the Bible. Could its tried-and-tested wisdom help you? Consider that question in the light of four common causes of stress.

 1 INSECURITY

A daughter confiding in her mother

Not one of us has total security. As the Bible states, “time and unexpected events overtake [us] all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How can you cope with feelings of insecurity? Try these suggestions.

  • Confide in a trusted family member or friend. Studies show that the support of loved ones consistently confers protection against stress-related disorders. Yes, “a true friend shows love at all times, and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

  • Do not continually focus on worst-case scenarios. Such thinking does little more than drain emotional reserves. And what you fear may not happen! For good reason, the Bible says: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”—Matthew 6:34.

  • Tap into the power of prayer. “Throw all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you,” says 1 Peter 5:7. God shows his care by giving us inner peace and by assuring us that he “will never abandon” those who sincerely turn to him for comfort and support in times of need.—Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:6, 7.

2 DEMANDING ROUTINE

A businessman running on a cog in a machine

A relentless routine of commuting, working, studying, or caring for children or elderly parents can keep stress levels high. Moreover, stopping some of these activities may be out of the question. (1 Timothy 5:8) What, then, can you do to cope?

  • Try to give yourself some downtime, and get adequate rest. The Bible says: “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.

  • Set sound priorities, and adopt a modest lifestyle. (Philippians 1:10) Consider simplifying your life, perhaps by reducing expenses or time spent at work.—Luke 21:34, 35.

Kari, mentioned earlier, took a fresh look at his life. “I realized that I was pursuing a selfish lifestyle,” he wrote. He sold his business and took on work that gave him more time at home. “Our standard of living has dropped a little,” he admits, “but my wife and I are now free of constant stress, and we have more time to spend with family and friends. I would not trade the inner peace I now have for any business opportunity.”

 3 INTERPERSONAL CONFLICTS

Two men settling a difference

Conflicts with others, especially in the workplace, can be very stressful. If you experience such difficulties, you have a number of options that might help.

  • When someone upsets you, try to stay calm. Do not add fuel to the fire. “A mild answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” says Proverbs 15:1.

  • Try to settle differences privately and respectfully, thus dignifying the other person.—Matthew 5:23-25.

  • Try to gain insight into his or her feelings and viewpoint. Such insight “slows down [our] anger” because it puts us in the other person’s shoes. (Proverbs 19:11) It can also help us to see ourselves through the other person’s eyes.

  • Try to forgive. Forgiveness is not only beautiful. It is also good medicine. As reported in a 2001 study, “unforgiving thoughts” resulted in “significantly higher” blood pressure and heart rate, whereas a forgiving attitude reduced stress.—Colossians 3:13.

4 TRAUMATIC EVENTS

A woman giving of her time to help another woman

Nieng, who lives in Cambodia, suffered a string of tragedies. In 1974, she was injured when a bomb exploded at an airport. The following year, her two children, her mother, and her husband all died. In the year 2000, her home and other belongings were destroyed by fire, and three years later, her second husband died. At that point, she wanted to end her life.

“Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work”

Yet, Nieng found a way to cope. Like Kari, she examined the Bible and benefited so much from what she learned that she, in turn, devoted time to helping others enjoy the same benefits. Her story calls to mind a 2008 study by British researchers. One way to develop “resilience in the face of stress,” they found, was to “give in some way . . . to others”—advice that has long been espoused in the Bible.—Acts 20:35.

Additionally, Nieng gained a sure hope for a better future, one in which all the problems that plague mankind will be gone. Instead, “peace will abound” earth wide.—Psalm 72:7, 8.

A genuine hope and the wisdom to cope with life’s many stresses are both priceless, and both can be found in the pages of the Bible. Millions have already benefited from this remarkable and unique book. You can too.


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“Does religion unite or divide us?” That question was posed to the readers ofThe Sydney Morning Herald. Of those who responded, the vast majority—some 89 percent—felt that religion divides us.

SUPPORTERS of interfaith, however, view the matter quite differently. “Show me a religion that doesn’t care about compassion . . . , that doesn’t care about stewardship of the environment . . . , that doesn’t care about hospitality,” asked Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core.

Indeed, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, and many others have on occasion joined forces to fight poverty, campaign for human rights, work to ban land mines, or draw attention to environmental issues. Multi-faith dialogue circles have participated in efforts to seek mutual understanding and inspiration. They celebrate their diversity with candle-lighting ceremonies, festivals, music, prayers, and so on.

Is the mingling of religions the way to heal the conflict among faiths? Is interfaith God’s way of bringing about a better world?

UNITY—AT WHAT PRICE?

One of the largest of the interfaith organizations boasts that it has members representing over 200 different faiths and that it is active in 76 countries. Its declared objective is “to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation.” That, however, has proved to be easier said than done. For example, according to the organizers, their charter had to be carefully worded so as not to offend the many faiths and indigenous groups that signed the document. Why? One factor was that there was disagreement on whether God should be included in the charter. Subsequently, any reference to or mention of God was avoided.

If God is left out of the picture, what role does faith play? Furthermore, how does such an interfaith movement differ from any secular charitable or philanthropic organization? For good reason, the aforementioned interfaith body describes itself, not as a religious entity, but as “a bridge-building organization.”

IS PROMOTING GOOD—GOOD ENOUGH?

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message: that is love, compassion and forgiveness,” says the Dalai Lama, a prominent interfaith proponent. He adds: “The important thing is that they should be part of our daily lives.”

Granted, the value of such virtues as love, compassion, and forgiveness cannot be overemphasized.  In what has been called the Golden Rule, Jesus said: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) But is true faith just a matter of promoting what is good?

About many who claimed to serve God in his day, the apostle Paul said: “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to accurate knowledge.” What was the problem? “Because of not knowing the righteousness of God,” Paul said, they were “seeking to establish their own.” (Romans 10:2, 3) Lacking accurate knowledge of what God wanted them to do, their zeal—and faith—were really in vain.—Matthew 7:21-23.

THE BIBLE’S VIEW OF INTERFAITH

“Happy are the peacemakers,” Jesus said. (Matthew 5:9) Jesus practiced what he preached by promoting nonviolence and taking a message of peace to people of diverse religious backgrounds. (Matthew 26:52) Those who responded were drawn into an unbreakable bond of love. (Colossians 3:14) But was Jesus’ objective merely to build bridges among people of various backgrounds so that they could get along in peace? Did he join with others in their religious practices?

The religious leaders of the sects of the Pharisees and the Sadducees viciously opposed Jesus—even sought to kill him. How did he react? Jesus instructed his disciples: “Let them be. Blind guides is what they are.” (Matthew 15:14) Jesus refused to acknowledge spiritual brotherhood with such individuals.

Some time later, a Christian congregation was formed in Corinth, Greece—a city renowned for its pluralistic, multireligious culture. How were the Christians there to act in that environment? The apostle Paul wrote them: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” Why not? Paul reasoned: “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?” Then he gave this counsel: “Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves.”—2 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 17.

Clearly, the Bible speaks against the practice of interfaith. But you might wonder, ‘How, then, can true unity be achieved?’

BUILDING TRUE UNITY

The International Space Station—a technological wonder orbiting the earth—is the result of the united efforts of some 15 nations. Could you imagine this project being accomplished if the participating nations did not agree on what blueprint to use?

That, essentially, is the situation with the modern-day interfaith movement. Although cooperation and respect are touted, there is no agreed-upon blueprint for building faith. As a result, moral and doctrinal issues remain as divisive as ever.

The Bible contains God’s standards, which are like a blueprint. We can build our lives on what the Bible says. Those who have embraced it have overcome racial and religious prejudices and have learned to work together in peace and unity. Foretelling this, God said: “I will change the language of the peoples to a pure language, so that all of them may call on the name of Jehovah, to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” Unity results from the “pure language,” God’s standard of worship.—Zephaniah 3:9; Isaiah 2:2-4.

Jehovah’s Witnesses cordially invite you to visit a Kingdom Hall near you to see for yourself the remarkable peace and unity that exist among them.—Psalm 133:1.