EVOLUTION VS CREATION
Payne, Barton J. “Theistic Evolution and the Hebrew of Genesis 1-2,” Bulletin of the Evangelical
Theological Society 8.2 (1965)
Barton Payne examines some of the inconsistencies in the creation story of Genesis 1-2, which both theists and creationists interprets to support their position. He identifies a number of Hebrew terms, whose translation into the English language presents a significant degree of ambiguity, hence different interpretations. The ambiguities resulting from the translation of the original Hebrew text suggest that Christianity’s support of a divine origin is not without loose ends. It leaves unanswered questions, especially in relation to the ‘how’ aspect of God’s creation. Payne observes that while the book of Genesis presents a creationist perspective on the origin of the universe and species, it at the same time reveals weaknesses that give weight to the argument advanced by theistic evolutionists.
The Hebrew term Way-yisér in Genesis 2:7 is translated to mean “God formed man. A similar term is used for other creatures, suggesting that the creation of Adam is not unique as taught in Christianity. It could give theists reason to dispute the creation story, since the phrase that describes the creation of animals refers to God’s command, which “brought forth” all kinds of animals from the earth. This might suggest an evolutionary process as opposed to instant creation. By extension, it could also imply a prior existence of Adam in another form, which evolved into a complete being at creation.
The element of time in reference to the day-sequence of creation could also mean a large time-span separating day one from day two. If that were the case, then it is conceivable to conclude that the periods between God’s days are marked by evolutionary processes . Central to this observation is the question of ‘how’ since Genesis does not explicitly demonstrate how God created things, i.e. whether He set into motion an evolution process that independently led to the emergence of different species, similar to the advances of Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species . The Hebrew term B’reshith, in Genesis 1:1, which means ‘In the beginning,’ is not specific whether it refers to the first day of creation, or to a prior period when God created the universe, the period in which it was without “form and shape,’ before the actual separation of the heaven and earth.. Whatever the case, the phrase implies that the earth existed before day one of creation, suggesting the eternity of matter and effectively, rejecting the view that God created everything .
The account that the created ‘kinds’ of species produce their ‘kinds’ does not specify the process by which God originally created them, i.e. whether by direct act or evolution. This raises doubt on whether He could have later preferred some changes on the created kinds, hence the need for an evolutionary process to take place. The curse to man after the fall that he will return to the dust whence he came from, hints at a process of gradual evolution that created a living man from lifeless dust.
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