Evolve with the best

In this article, I have tried to present the actual mechanism that drives evolution. I have glossed over many scientific arguments and new developments such as epigenetics, but I have written the analogy this way because biology textbooks still teach that natural selection, acting on mutations produced by an unguided process, are responsible for the diversity of life on earth.

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Science and the Seventh-day Adventist position on the age of the earth

Over the last several decades, the de facto position of the Seventh-day Adventist church regarding the age of the earth has been the Passive Gap Theory, as affirmed by the SDA Sabbath School Quarterly: “When the story begins, the planet is already here but unformed, unfilled, dark, and wet.” (Jan. 5-11, 2013).

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Young earth, no gap interpretation biblically valid

In "Outline of proposed theories for Genesis 1:1-2", we looked at the five major interpretations of Genesis 1:1,2. Seventh-day Adventists have historically understood these verses as the Young Earth-No Gap position. The Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia sums this position up by stating: “on the first day of the Creation week . . . He [God] brought into existence the matter that composed the earth and that He proceeded immediately with the work of the six days.”[1] Keeping this in mind, we will see if the Young-earth, No Gap interpretation is a valid one.

I. "In the beginning"

The first question to answer is in the beginning of what? Is the word “beginning” in reference to a specific time or event that is knowable in Scripture? Is “beginning” an intangible time eons ago? Or does it refer to the “absolute beginning” of the world, or universe?

Lexical Considerations

“In the beginning" (Hebrew- re’sheet[2]) has four basic meanings. They are:

  1. Chief[3] (chief place,[4] chief leader[5]), Leader[6] (President,[7] Prince,[8] Ruler[9]),
  2. Principle[10] (of anything[11]),  Best[12] (Best of its kind[13]),
  3. Head[14] (of man or beast[15]), Top[16] (of mountain,[17] peak[18] highest place,[19] summit[20]),
  4. First[21] (at first,[22] first place,[23]  first part[24]), Beginning[25] (primary motion from rest[26]), commence[27]

The definition that fits the context the best is number four. This meaning defines the initiation of a process or first part of something; whereas the first three describe qualities or positions of something, someone, etc. Genesis 1:1 could have been written “at the first God created,” “at the start God created,” or “at the commencement God created . . .," etc. Re’sheet does not have the meaning of “in time(s) past,” “in ancient time,” “in past ages,” etc. If Moses had wanted to use a Hebrew word that refers to a time before creation week, he had the choice of using: 1 ) Ri’shown--former, formerly, before, aforetime, old time, foremost; 2 ) Gohlahm--ancient time, anciently, of old; 3 ) Shilshowm--idiom for 'in times past', times past, past, beforetime. Because Moses did not use any of these words, and because re’sheet doesn’t carry the lexical meaning of “ages past,” “in times past,” etc., we can know Moses was trying to convey a specific time that is knowable to us.  A point of interest in this discussion is the Good News Translation of Gen. 1:1-,“In the beginning, when God created the universe.”  In our next article[28] we will see that “heaven” and “earth” do not refer to the creation of the universe,[29] “time,” etc.[30] In summary, “beginning” (re’sheet) has a lexical meaning of a point in time or first part of something that is knowable. It does not denote a point in time followed by a gap or space (primary motion from rest implies the motion continues without stopping). It also doesn’t designate between an “absolute beginning”[31] (whatever this means) and “beginning.”

Comparative ConsiderationsRe’sheet is used 51 times in the Old Testament. A comparative word study is in harmony with the definitions given above. In Scripture, re’sheet defines the starting point of a process, time period or first part of something. For example:

  1. Beginning or First part of a kingdom, reign, year, nations[32],
  2. Beginning or First part of yearly produce, livestock, offerings. . (dough, corn, sheep, offerings, wine[33]),
  3. Beginning or First part of moral or physical attributes (wisdom, sin, strife,[34] strength, might[35]),
  4. Beginning or First part of a thing, man, etc.[36] (in contrast to “the end”- Is. 46:10).

The Old Testament reveals that re’sheet is not used as a nebulous or unknowable word. Rather, it delineates a specific point of time that can be measured or understood from the context or other passages. The context of Genesis one is the “filling“ and “forming” of the earth and heavens. Therefore, “beginning” is directly related to the subsequent actions of God in Genesis one and two.

Grammatical Considerations Grammatically, the opening word bere’sheeth (a form of re‘sheet) is in the “absolute state”[37]and the opening phrase is an independent clause.[38] (For detailed discussion of the grammatical, syntactical and stylistic considerations of Genesis 1:1,2, please see Gerhard Hasel's “Recent Translations of Genesis 1:1,” The Bible Translator 22, 1971[39]). Verse one is not dependent on verse two, but rather two (and three) are dependent on verse one. Some modern translations have misdiagnosed this, and begin with the phrase “when in the beginning” (NJV, NEB, NAB, CEB, NRSV). These versions imply that the “beginning” is something that happened long before verse two. Dr. Hasel has shown that bere’sheeth should be translated “In the beginning” and that it “has the support of word studies, grammar, Masoretic pointing and accentuation.”[40] If Moses wanted to say the “heavens and earth” began ages ago (Active-Gap Theory- occurring after verse 1), he would have used the construct state and the first phrase would have been a “Dependent clause” (“when in the beginning . . .”). As we will note in the Syntactical Considerations, verses two and three also begin with the linking word “and” (“AND the earth was without form . . . AND God said, ‘Let there . . .’”). This unifies the first three verses together in time- which rules out the Passive-Gap Theory (which proponents say happened after verse 2).

Contextual Considerations

“Heavens and the earth were finished”-

Genesis 2:1 says, “thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”

When the Hebrew word “finished” (kalah) is used in the O.T., it references a process (building, construction, numbering, prophecy, etc.[41]) that continues uninterrupted from its commencement. In other words, the word “finished” stands in opposition to “beginning” like book ends of a process that once started, progresses until finished with no gaps or lulls. In reality, this is the summary statement of the creation account, not Genesis 1:1.

“Generations of the heavens and the earth”

Genesis 2:4 says- “these are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created....” The Hebrew word for “generation” (toh-l’dohth) has the meaning of: a genealogy,[42] family history or lineage,[43] family connected by birth,[44] successive generations, etc.[45] The Bible uses this word with family lineages, in which the line goes back, unbroken until the beginning. Examples of this are Jesus' lineage in Luke 3, and the generations of Adam in Genesis 5.[46] Dr. Richard Davidson comments, “The chronogenealogies of Gen 5 and 11 have indicators that they are be taken as complete genealogies without gap[s] . . . tight interlocking features make it virtually impossible to argue that there are significant generational gaps.”[47] In a similar way, the chronogenealogy of Genesis 1 contains interlocking features (“evening and morning . . . first day“) that vitiate gaps or spaces. In the Old Testament, the first generation of a genealogy is followed directly and contiguously with the second. To be consistent, the first generation (of “heaven and earth”) would be followed consecutively and contiguously with the events and days of creation. Therefore, once the heaven and earth are created (Gen. 1:1), their “family line” would continue with the next “generation” following directly.

Syntactical Considerations

The syntax of Genesis 1:2 contains “three noun clauses, which all describe the state of existing contemporaneously with the action expressed in Genesis 1:1. In other words, verse two describes the state of the earth during the time when the activity of verse one was ended and that of verse three began.” (emphasis mine)[48] In Hebrew, verse two begins with the word “and” (Hb.- waw), and it is in the copulative form.[49] According to Dr. Hasel, when “the noun [is] in an emphatic position followed by the verb [it] leads to a meaning that may be rendered[50]- 'And (as far as) the earth (is concerned it) was . . .'"[51] Hebrew scholar D. Kidner concurs that verse two is connected to one, “By all normal usage the [second] verse is an expansion of the statement just made, and its own two halves are concurrent.”[52] What this means is that there is no gap (of time) between verse one and two; verse two is simply a description of the earth created in verse one. Verse three also begins with the word “and” (waw- copulative), so that “just as verse 2 is connected to verse 1, so also there is a link between verses 2 and 3.”[53] Dr. Hasel concludes his remarks on the syntax by stating- “The author of the first verse of the Bible expresses the idea that ‘in the beginning’ . . . God created ‘heaven and earth‘. . .  this created world was in a condition described in verse 2. Next God transformed this condition into the one presently existing.” (emphasis mine)[54] This is confirmed by another exegete- “Genesis 1:3 begins with another conjunction, so we know it is part of the continuing action. . .[55]

Stylistic Considerations

Stylistically, Genesis 1 is characterized by the consistent use of short sentences: “And God saw that . . . was good” (1;4,10,12,18,25,31);’ and there was evening and there was morning, . . . Day one” (1:5,8,13,19,23,31). The implication of this stylistic uniqueness militates against a syntactical construction of verses 1-3 that makes these verses into a long and complicated sentence structure.”[56] Verse one contains a single short phrase and “verse 2 consists of three noun clauses.”[57] Therefore, the brevity of the phrases in verses one and two are consistent with the rest of the chapter, belonging to a “series of characteristically short sentences.”[58] While verses one and two may not begin with the distinctive “and God saw,” or “and God said,” etc., they still have the same short cadence.

One argument against Genesis 1:1,2 being included in the creation week, is the formula- “And God said . . . Day one,” “And God said . . . Day two,” etc. The contention is that all the days begin with “And God said,” and conclude with “day one,” “day two,” etc., therefore verses 1,2 are not “within that framework”. There are several reasons why Genesis 1:1,2 don’t fall within this pattern, and why we shouldn’t insist on this “formula” as applying:

  1. Verse 1 gives us a reference point (“beginning“)- so that we know WHEN God speaks (v. 3). If verse one began- “And God said. . .”- we would not know at what point in time He began His work.
  2. Verse 3 begins with “and”- which links verse 3 with verse 2. Verse 1 doesn’t start with “and,” since it is not continuing an activity- it is initiating one.
  3. The “planting of a garden” (2:8), the creation of a “mist” to water the ground (2:6), etc.- do not fall within the “formula” of chapter one- since they are within the complementary chapter 2.
  4. Ps. 33:6 says the “heavens” were made by the “word of the Lord.” As for the earth- they were made “by the word of God” (Heb. 11:3). These verses show us that God spoke the “heavens and the earth” into existence. Therefore, the alleged “formula”-  “God said. . .” was still followed, even if we don’t know this from Genesis 1. (more on this in the next article)
  5. God “covered the earth with the deep” (Ps. 104:6) and “strengthened the fountains of the deep” (Pr. 8:28). The “deep” (including the “waters”) was created in a way not expressed in Genesis 1.
  6. The following were not specified within the “pattern” of “and God said. . . Day one”- yet were created during the first week: 1) The “springs of the sea” (Job 38:16), 2) commanding “the morning” (Job 38:12), 3) Causing “the dayspring” (Job 38:12), 4) “forming the mountains” (Amos 4:13), 5) “creating the wind” (Amos 4:13[59]), 6) “builds spheres in the heaven. . . arch of the earth” (Amos 9:6, A.R.V.[60]), 7) calling for “the waters of the sea” (Amos 9:6), 8) forming “the light, and darkness” (Is. 45:7), etc. These and other passages show that we should not limit our understanding of creation to the alleged “pattern” of Genesis one- “and God said. . . Day one, etc.”.

In light of the lexical, grammatical, syntactical, contextual, comparative and stylistic information, the evidence points to the creation of “heaven and earth” at the “beginning” of the first day of the creation week. The above findings confute the idea that Genesis 1:1 refers to an “absolute beginning,” “ancient beginning,” “primordial beginning,” etc. The focus of Genesis one and two is the creation week, therefore “beginning” (re’sheet) is directly linked (in space and time) and related to the information that follows.

II. “Created”

Lexical Considerations The word “created” (bara) in Genesis 1:1 has two primary meanings:  1 ) To create,[61] bring into existence,[62] bring forth,[63] cause to exist (that which had no existence),[64] produce into being,[65]  and 2 ) to form,[66] to build or fashion,[67] to shape,[68] to engrave, cut out,[69] etc. The meaning that is in harmony with the context is number one, since the “earth was without form and void” (verse 2). The “shaping,” “building” and “forming” would take place on days two through six. It was the creative act of “causing to exist” that which had not previously existed, that Genesis 1:1 is referring to--creatio ex nihilo.

“Created” (bara) and “made” (asah) The fourth commandment has been used to support God creating the “heavens and the earth” on the first day of creation. It reads, “for in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Ex. 20:11). The passage seems to affirm that God “made” the heaven and the earth DURING the “six days” of creation. Critics of this understanding assert that since the word “made” (asah) is different that the word “created” (bara) in Genesis 1:1[70]they cannot be conflated. However, this fails to take into consideration the nuanced differences and similarities between these two words. In Gen. 2:3, “God created (bara) AND made (asah)” the heavens and the earth. Therefore, bara (“created”) and asah (“made”) are used in harmony with each other.

Like bara, asah has two general meanings: 1 ) To make out of pre-existent matter,[71] to form- fashion,[72] modeled,[73] fabricated,[74] etc.; and 2 ) A General word, to perform an act--doing,[75] acting,[76] working,[77] do mightily,[78] bring about,[79] etc. Some lexicographers state it this way, “asah” is a “very general word- like ‘do’ and ‘make’ in English.”[80]  In the fourth commandment, God is referring to ALL His created works involving the earth and heavens. Therefore, He uses a word that applies to His activity in general. God “molded” and “formed” man, and animals (Gen. 2:7,19) out of pre-existing material, but He “created” other things (Light, trees, etc.) by His word. Therefore, “asah” does not stand in tension to “Bara.“ Rather, was the best general word God could have used to include those things created from nothing, AND those from pre-existing material (man and animals).


From our brief survey, we have seen that the evidence points towards the creation of the “heaven and the earth” on the first day of creation. At this point we can summarize the following: 1 ) “Beginning” (re’sheet) is a knowable point of time at the first day of creation, 2 ) God created the world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) in the recent past on the first day of creation, 3 ) this understanding is in harmony with the fourth commandment which includes “heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them,” 4 ) the popular geologic dating results are not in harmony with the Biblical record, so they must be revised to correlate with Scripture. In the next article, we will look at the three elements that God created in the “beginning” of the first day (verse 2)- “heaven,” “earth” and “water” (including “the deep”). In the final article we look at why any of this is relevant.

[1]    “Creation” in the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, ed. Don F. Neufield, 35

[2]  The specific Hebrew form of resheet used in Genesis 1:1 is B’resheet

[3]   Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[4]   Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon

[5]   Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[6]   Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, William Duncan, English-Hebrew Lex.

[7]   Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary

[8]   Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon

[9]   William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary

[10]   Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon

[11]   William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon

[12]   Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon

[13]   Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[14]   Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, Josiah Willard Gibbs

[15]   W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon

[16]   Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon

[17]   William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon

[18]   William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary

[19]   Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[20]   Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon

[21]   Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon, Thomas R. Brown,  Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[22]   Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon

[23]   John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon

[24]   John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon

[25]   Jastrow, Hebrew-English Dictionary, Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Mitchell & Davies Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon, John Parkhurst, Hebrew Lexicon

[26]   Thomas R. Brown, Lexicon

[27]   William Osborn, English-Hebrew Lexicon

[28] “in the beginning” does not refer to the “beginning of the universe,” the “beginning of time,” etc.  A thorough refutation of this idea can be found in Ferdinand Regalado’s article- “The Creation account in Genesis 1: Our world only or the Universe?” (Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 13/2, Autumn 2002) http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=54&journal=1&type=pdf

[29] See also - http://www.truthnet.org/Genesis/Genesis-Chapter1/Genesis-Chapter-1-Creation-of-Universe.htm

[30] The Institute for Creation Research has written- “No other cosmogony, whether in ancient paganism or modern naturalism, even mentions the absolute origin of the universe. . . the concept of the special creation of the universe of space and time itself is found nowhere in all religion or philosophy, ancient or modern, except here in Genesis 1:1. . . this  verse records the creation of space (“the heaven”), of time (“in the beginning”), and of matter (“the earth”) . . .”



[32]  Gen. 10:10; Jer. 26:1; 27:1; 28:1; 49:34; Deu. 11:12; Nu. 24:20

[33]  Nu. 15:20, 21; Neh. 10:37; Deu. 18:4; 1 Sam. 2:29; 2 Ch. 31:5

[34]  Pr. 1:7; Mic. 1:13; Pr. 17:14

[35]  Gen. 49:3; Deut. 21:17; Ps. 111:10; 78:51; 105:36, Jer. 49:35

[36]  Job 8:7; Job 42:12; Ecc. 7:8; Prov. 8:22




[40]   Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.

Dr. Hasel notes: “Moses could not have used any other construction to denote the first word as in the absolute state, but he  could have opted for a different construction to indicate the construct state. . . [the] Vulgate, Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus, Targum Onkelos- All place the first word of the Bible in the absolute state- - and an independent main clause. . .  [furthermore] The Masoretes (who supplied the Hebrew text with vowels and accents, Placed the first word in Genesis with a disjunctive accent tiphha- construing it as an absolute.

[41]  Ex. 39:32- Tent of the Congregation                                                         2 Chr. 4:11- Huram finished the work that he was to

Ex. 40:33- Moses finished the work                                         2 Chron. 7:11- Solomon finished the house of the Lord

1 Ki. 6:9- So he built the house and finished it                                   Dan. 12:7- all these things shall be finished

1 Ki. 7:22- so was the work of the pillars finished

[42]   William Wallace Duncan, Hebrew and English Lexicon

[43]   Edward Mitchell and Benjamin Davies, Complete Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Josiah Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon, Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary

[44]   Edward Mitchell and Benjamin Davies, Complete Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon

[45]   Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon

[46]  Other genealogies would also include: Gen. 6:9- the generations of Noah, Gen. 10:1- the generations of the sons of Noah, Gen. 11:10- the generations of Shem, Gen. 11:27- the generations of Terah, Gen. 25:19- the generations of Isaac, Ex. 6:19- Levi, according to their generations, Nu. 3:1- the generations of Aaron, Ru. 4:18- the generations of Pharez, etc.


[48]   Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.

[49] Hasel, “Recent Translations of Genesis 1:1,” The Bible Translator 22, 1971

[50]   Hasel, Ministry, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.

[51]  N.H. Ridderbos, “Genesis 1:1-2,” (Oudtestamentische Studien 12, 1958), 231

[52]   D. Kidner, Genesis, p. 44

[53]   Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.

[54]   Hasel, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.

[55] Rich Deem, http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis1.html

   “And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light‘. . . every thought is begun with a conjunction, so we know that all        of this is part of the continuing action.”

[56]   Hasel, Ministry, Op.Cit.

[57]   Hasel, Ministry, Op. Cit.

[58]   Hasel, Bible Translator, Op. Cit.

[59] Quoted in E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 414

[60] Quoted in E.G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 414

[61]  John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Roy, Ibid, Mitchell & Davies, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid

[62]  Thomas Brown, Hebrew Lexicon

[63]  William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary

[64]  William Roy, Hebrew-English Dictionary

[65]  John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[66]   John Parkhurst, Ibid; William Osborn, Ibid; Josiah Gibbs, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid; Samuel Pike, Hebrew Lexicon

[67]  William Roy, Ibid; Mitchell & Davies, Ibid; William Duncan, Ibid; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ibid

[68]  Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon; Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary

[69]  Josiah Gibbs, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Duncan, Hebrew-English Lexicon; William Duncan, Ibid;  Jastrow, Ibid


[71]   John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[72]   John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon

[73]   William Roy, Hebrew-English Critical Dictionary; W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon

[74]   William Osborn, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[75]   Jastrow, Hebrew-Aramaic-English Dictionary

[76]   W.H. Barker, Hebrew Lexicon; John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[77]   William Roy, Hebrew-English Critical Dictionary; John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon; Josiah Gibbs, Lexicon

[78]   Brown- Driver- Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[79]   Brown- Driver- Briggs, Hebrew-English Lexicon

[80]   John Parkhurst, Hebrew-English Lexicon