Who or What are the Nephilim?

The story of the Nephilim is one of the more bizarre stories in the Bible.  If you enjoy stories such as Greek mythology you’re probably a fan of this story as I am.  The difference is that the story of the Nephilim is a true story unlike the stories of mythology.  The issue is what the story actually means and how literally should we interpret it.

In Genesis 6 we’re given an account of how wicked the world had become by the time of Noah.  In Genesis 6:1-3 we’re told that the earth is wicked and that God had numbered the days of humanity at 120 years.  But why were they considered so wicked?  We’re only given a few clues.

“When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.  Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’”

The problem appears to be that the sons of God are intermarrying with the daughters of men.  But who are these two parties?  There are two commonly given answers.  The first is that the sons of God are those who are following God while the daughters of men are the pagans who have rejected God.  This is an intermarrying of faiths or what we might call being unequally yoked.  It is an understandable problem and one can see how the sons of God would be led away from God through this intermarrying.

The other possibility is that the sons of God are not human but rather angels who are fallen.  This is a problem on a whole other level than just an intermarrying of faith.  If this is taking place, women would be giving birth to essentially demonic children.  It is the kind of story that serves as the main plotline for a horror movie.

Some will immediately dismiss the notion of fallen angels marrying humans as absurd or impossible.  Some point to Matthew 22:30 that angels don’t marry.  Jesus said, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”  Some have mistakenly taken this verse to mean that angels are neuter in gender and/or that they can’t marry.  Jesus never said that angels can’t marry, only that they don’t marry.  There is apparently no need for marriage in heaven.

But if these are indeed fallen angels, they wouldn’t follow the rules of heaven.  Likewise, while there is no need for marriage in heaven, these angels would be here on earth.  So as they interact with humans they would take part in human activities, marriage being one.

It is at least theoretically possible that these are fallen angels that are called the sons of God.  Or they are religious followers of God on earth.  The next verse gives us reason why we should believe one or another.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Nephilim are the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men.  If these are simply human offspring, they are particularly wicked as a product of their parents.  There have always been mixed marriages of the religious and non-religious, so this must be a special construct that is particularly wicked if the offspring are worthy of their own separate classification.

The biggest hang up with this theory of the Nephilim is why this offspring are the heroes of old, the men of renown.  This would seem to imply that there is something physically special and impressive about these offspring and there is no reason to reach this conclusion if these are just the product of a godly parent and an ungodly one.

On the other hand, if they are the offspring of an angel and a human, it makes good sense why they would have impressive physical qualities as well as requiring their own classification.  But is this just pure speculation?  In Greek mythology there are similar tales of gods having children to earthly women and it is possible that this is the true source of such myths.  Stories of demigods would have some slight basis in reality if that were the case.

There is more reason to believe this rather than just the fact that it is similar to some mythology.  In 1 Peter 3 there is a very odd allusion to the story of Noah.  Verses 19-20 state   After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

Jesus is making a proclamation to imprisoned spirits from the days of Noah.  It does not say that these spirits are angels here.  It is possible that these are the spirits of the wicked specifically from Noah’s day, but why single out those from all of the wicked in history through Jesus’ day?  2 Peter gives us a better indication that these just might be angels to whom Jesus is making a proclamation.

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

We know that Satan took a third of heaven’s angels with him when he fell.  We also know that there are still fallen angels, we refer them commonly as demons, in the world today.  So the angels who sinned and have already been punished can’t be just a reference to those who rebelled alongside of Satan.  They must have done something so heinous that God sent them to hell before the rest of the demons.

Now we’re onto something.  I can’t be sure, so this still amounts to little more than reasoned speculation, but I believe that the Nephilim are the half-demon offspring of fallen angels.  It feels absurd and a bit scary as well, but no more than the reality that demons are real and influence our world today.  There are a group of angels that did something so terrible that God locked them away before the rest of the demons.  I believe that marrying humans and having children with them would certainly meet those criteria.

Although it feels more logical that the sons of God are just followers of God who are led astray by pagans, I don’t believe that this is the logical conclusion that we can reach based on what we’re told in Genesis 6.  This story is one right out of the pages of mythology and it seems absolutely incredible.  But on the other hand, so does the story of the world being so evil that God had to destroy it with a flood and we have no problem believing that.  So just maybe the Nephilim are something that seems too crazy to exist but actually did.

Why did people live so long in Genesis?

When you look at the life spans that are recorded in the book of Genesis it is easy to dismiss them as something that is an exaggeration or otherwise unbelievable.  In short, no one lives nearly that long today with all of our medical knowledge.  So why should we believe the biblical account that tells of tremendously long life spans?

For starters, the incredible life spans pretty much end after the flood.  We can’t know for sure how much the world physically changed as a result of the flood.  I’m not talking about just damage that was done as a result of floodwaters but physical properties of the earth that may have been different from today.  We simply can’t know how things were changed but we can speculate based on what the Bible tells us and some of what science is telling us as well.

Odds are good that the supernaturally long life spans are a result of a combination of many things.  So, what are the things that could have contributed to an exceptionally long life?  The first is that God is supernaturally expanding people’s life spans.  God keeps people alive longer so that they populate the earth.  With a normal life span and normal child bearing years, Eve may have been able to have between 20-40 kids.  I give that big range because Eve would have been an adult at creation and could have immediately started bearing children.  But of course perhaps she also starts aging like an adult from the beginning in which case when she would be 20 years old, perhaps she has the physical body of a 35-40 year old.  Whatever the case may be, even on the high end things with 40 children, it will be several generations before there is a sizable population on earth.  Can God wait out the natural process for the earth to be populated?  Of course.  But it is quite possible that God grants long lives in the beginning for the purpose of speeding up the population of earth.

The second possible explanation for long lives is genetics.  In short, there is a longevity gene.  Noah is the last to have it before it is lost with the flood.  He passes it on to his children, but they only receive half of the benefits because they don’t receive it from their mother.  Their half gene is then passed on to their children who only have one quarter of the benefits as Noah.  This would explain why the ages rapidly decrease and at a rate that is essentially halving every generation.  If you look at the generations following Noah, they are roughly half of Noah and then half again the following generation.

The third explanation is the environment before the flood.  Going back to the second day of creation, we should note what takes place.

Genesis 1:6-8

 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.  God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

We know that the air contains moisture and that clouds are a collection of water in tiny droplets but this appears to be more.  At creation, the earth is more like a tropical rain forest that does not need rain because of the canopy of water overhead.  Genesis 2:4-6 gives more indication as to what all of this looked like.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-  and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.

There was no rain and the earth essentially took care of itself because of the streams that sprung up and the moisture in the air.  The thick atmosphere served as protection from the sun and numerous harmful things like radiation which we know about now.  There is no telling what kinds of diseases did not exist because it could not live in such an environment.  Obviously fewer diseases mean fewer things to die from.

There is one more likely difference that contributed to long lives and that is atmospheric pressure.  The water in the air weighs more than simple oxygen and thus creates more pressure.  Scientists have researched this and believe that the atmospheric pressure was possibly double what it currently is.  Now I couldn’t begin to tell you how that is a benefit aside from the fact that it apparently is.  If you’re interested, there are all kinds of research into how greater atmospheric pressure my help the body heal.  Hyperbaric chambers are designed specifically to increase the pressure around the body which helps with oxygen in the bloodstream.  Football players have started using these in their homes to recover from injuries.  The medical community is using them for everything from treating burns, to carbon monoxide poisoning, to healing crush injuries.  There are also studies being conducting regarding the use of hyperbaric chambers for the treatment of autism and even certain types of hearing loss.  In other words, the world before the flood could have been an environment that allowed the body to heal itself much better than today.  If the body is capable of healing itself better, longer life spans would naturally follow.

As a man of faith I don’t have a problem just believing the ages given in the Bible as truth.  The Bible is full of miraculous events so I don’t have any difficulty accepting supernaturally long life spans.  But I also believe that God uses natural phenomenon to accomplish incredible things as well and there are some natural things that could have been different about the ancient world that would have led to much longer lives.  Whatever the case may be, the incredible life spans drop off after the flood so that by the time of Abraham people were living roughly as long as we do today.  God may have still blessed people with long lives but it was a matter of 110 or 120 years which isn’t unbelievable compared to the 7,8, or 900 years before.

Cain and Abel: A Lesson in Worship

The story of Cain and Abel is one of the more tragic stories of the Bible because Abel’s death seems so needless.  The story is more than just an intense sibling rivalry however.  To view it as just a matter of jealousy or the first murder in the Bible is really missing the point.

The story of Cain and Abel is in Genesis 4, immediately following the fall of man.  One way of looking at this story is to see how quickly sin grows and escalates.  Yeast is used in the Bible as a picture of sin because of the way it grows and this is definitely what Genesis 4 shows.  Even though a number of years pass for Cain and Abel to be born and grow into men, the narrative of Genesis goes from a relatively innocent sin of eating forbidden fruit to murder in the following chapter.

The real story of Cain and Abel is a matter of worship however.  And it is a very important matter that I believe the church doesn’t always get.  Take a look at verses 2-4 of Genesis 4.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.

If this were the first time you read this passage, you might not think that there was anything wrong here.  Cain and Abel both brought an offering to the Lord in accordance with their occupation.  But there are two things wrong with Cain’s sacrifice.

We’re not told in Genesis 4 why Cain’s sacrifice is wrong, but we know elsewhere in the Bible that sacrifices involve the shedding of blood.  This may seem barbaric to our modern sensibilities but all of the blood sacrifices pointed to the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross.  It is reasonable to believe that Cain and Abel both knew that an acceptable sacrifice was a blood sacrifice because this is the sacrifice that was established in Genesis 3 after the fall of man.

Adam and Eve’s fig leaves did not cover their spiritual nakedness even though it may have physically covered their bodies.  God had to provide the skin of an animal to cover them which meant that blood had to be shed to cover their nakedness.  Cain and Abel would have known this story and it is likely that all sacrifices were to involve the shedding of blood.  So that being the case, Cain’s sacrifice is not acceptable to God.

We often like to tell God how we’re going to worship Him rather than listen to how He demands to worship.  It’s not an audible thing but in our actions and attitudes we tell God that we’re not getting up too early to worship, because Sunday is our only day off.  Or maybe we declare that we can only give a certain amount of money because money is tight and bills are due and God understands.  Or maybe we tell God that we aren’t going to attend a church that sings boring hymns or we aren’t going to attend a radical one where people raise their hands.  We often tell God how we will and won’t worship Him rather than seeking out how He desires to be worshipped.

There is another thing that makes Cain’s sacrifice unacceptable however.  It is subtle but the text tells us that Cain gave some of the fruits of the soil.  Later on God established a sacrifice known as firstfruits but this is not the case here.  This isn’t the first of Cain’s harvest.  It’s not said or even implied that it’s the best of the harvest.  It’s probably the leftovers.  It’s probably whatever would have otherwise gone to waste anyway.  It is just some fruit.

Now compare that sacrifice to Abel’s.  Abel did bring the firstborn of his flock and it is the best portions, the fat portions.  It isn’t a sickly animal that he had no use for, instead it is the best that he had.

Attitude matters as much as what we give.  Paul tells us to be cheerful givers.  I believe in a ten percent tithe and I believe that God blesses those who do so.  But people should give to the Lord because they want to do so and not because I instructed them to do so.  If you give ten percent to church because you feel obligated to do so, you’re not going to be blessed as if you gave it freely.

So God confronts Cain about his sacrifice.  Picking up in the middle of verse 4 it says:

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

It is implied here that Cain has done wrong with his sacrifice.  His sacrifice is not acceptable and he knew it.  As I already said, I think that Cain knew that the physical substance of the sacrifice was not what God wanted but I also believe that the attitude towards the sacrifice is not one of thanksgiving.  It is a begrudging sacrifice that is probably just given out of a sense of duty.

The story ends unhappily.  Cain kills his brother Abel.  There is probably jealousy involved and there is undoubtedly anger as well.  Cain has no reason to be angry with his brother because Abel gave a proper sacrifice.  God didn’t play favorites with Abel so there is no reason to be jealous.  If Cain had done as he should have done, he would have been accepted by God as well.  But he didn’t and he is cursed and given a mark so that no one kills him.

I’ll very briefly address two areas of controversy in this passage before I close.  We have no idea what this mark is.  Some people have said that God made Cain black as his mark and therefore dark skinned people are descendents of Cain.  I’ll just say that there is no reason to conclude that based on this passage.  It would in some way explain the hardships that dark skinned people have endured if they were in fact cursed but that would also somehow excuse the atrocities that they have suffered at the hands of light skinned people as we would say they somehow deserved it.  So, I think that to say Cain’s mark is one of skin color is a dangerous assumption that shouldn’t be made.

The other question that people like to ask is “where did Cain get his wife?”  Of course the question is valid for all of the early generations that are descended from Adam and Eve.  We are only told of three children that Adam and Eve had but they undoubtedly had many.  Given their supernaturally long lifespans, God may very well have extended Eve’s child bearing years and it is at least possible that she had hundreds of children.  That’s purely speculation on my part.  And of course those children would have children and could have started to do so as soon as puberty began.  Mathematically there could be a sizeable population in a short number of years.

Genetics is the real issue though.  It is immoral, illegal, and disgusting to have sex with a relative today.  But in Cain’s day it was a different culture and we see this even later on in Genesis.  More importantly though, there is a reason why relatives can’t have children with one another today.  Our genetics are too similar and birth defects are likely.  Adam and Eve carried the genetics for the entire human race however.  One child may be born with blond hair and blue eyes while the next may have a dark complexion with dark hair and brown eyes and the third child may have a fair complexion with red hair and green eyes.  Adam and Eve’s children would have been genetically diverse unlike our children today.  So even though the thought of marrying a sister or cousin makes us cringe today, it wasn’t immoral then and there wouldn’t have been the harm that we have today.

The Fall of Man: Satan’s Tactics

The fall of man obviously isn’t good news for humanity.  Man was given a perfect world to live in and we royally messed it up.  Perfection was destroyed and the result was the world that we see now.  Ever since the fall of man, God has been working to restore the perfection that was present in the Garden of Eden.

Even though the outcome was anything but good, there is a lot that we can learn from the story of the fall of man.  Satan’s tactics haven’t changed any since the serpent tempted Eve so if we learn from this story we learn what to expect virtually any time that we are tempted.

Genesis 3:1 begins “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?””

There is debate whether the serpent is actually Satan, if it is controlled by Satan, whether it is a metaphor for Satan, etc.  I’m not really concerned about that debate right now.  Regardless whether this is actually Satan or a devil like creature, it uses the same tactics as Satan.  And I will interchangeably refer to the serpent as the devil just to clear up any confusion.

The serpent starts by questioning God.  This is a very indirect approach here.  And that is the power of the attack.  Satan doesn’t come out and declare that God’s rules are stupid.  But what he does is get Eve to start wondering about the rules that God has given.  Why is this one tree forbidden?  What is so special about one particular tree?  What is she potentially missing out on?  Why would God place something in the garden that was forbidden?

Eve tells the serpent that they are forbidden to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden and that they will die if they do.  The serpent’s response is another classic tactic of Satan.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan constantly twists God’s words.  He tells half truths.  In short, he deceives.  Jesus called Satan the Father of Lies so this tactic shouldn’t be at all surprising to us.  Eating from the tree would bring about spiritual death and it would bring about spiritual death.  What the serpent declares is that eating the fruit would not bring about immediate death which was true.  The death it did bring was far worse than immediate death but of course he’s not going to reveal that.

Satan loves to twist God’s words and confuse us with double talk and nonsense.  Is it any wonder how Christians could all have the same Bible but have so many different interpretations of God’s teachings?  There is only one right interpretation of what the Bible says but there are many different views on everything from birth control to homosexuality.  Satan twists and confuses the issue and he does so from the beginning with Eve.

The second part of what the serpent tells Eve is completely true but still told with the intent to deceive.  In church we constantly teach that we are striving to be like Jesus, to be holy like God.  But while Adam and Eve still had their innocence, they did not want to be like God.  To have the knowledge of good and evil was a curse, not a blessing.  But of course it is sold as a blessing that God has been withholding from Eve.

The fall of man is recorded quite simply but there’s a lot that happens in Genesis 3:6.  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Eve saw that the fruit was good for food.  I can’t be certain of it, but I assume that Eve looked at the fruit and compared it to the other fruit that she had eaten.  It looked like other fruit that she had eaten and had no consequences from eating.  It’s not like this fruit was covered in spikes or had anything to indicate that this was bad aside from the fact that she had been told to avoid it.  Sin often looks the same as non-sinful things.  Or in other words, it seems like a perfectly good idea beforehand.  Only after the fact does sin seem like a bad idea.

We also see that the fruit was pleasing to the eye.  Satan sells us a lot of things because they are pleasing to the eye.  Not only does sin not appear to be harmful, it looks good.  There is something that is enticing about sin because we’re convinced that not only will it not be bad for us but that it is something that we should want for our lives.

So we have that the sin is not bad, but also pleasing.  And finally it is sold as beneficial.  There is something to be gained that isn’t just a self satisfying fulfillment of some desire but there is a tangible benefit.  One can imagine Eve’s thought process as she fell for this deception.

The fruit is commonly pictured as an apple.  We have no indication what it actually was but let’s just use an apple as our image.  Eve sees the apple hanging on the tree.  She realizes that this fruit looks similar to the other fruits that she’s eaten before and had no ill effects, so there’s a good chance that it’s not poisonous like she had been led to believe.  And the apple looks good.  It’s shiny.  It looks like it is crispy but juicy when you bite into it.  It looks like something that she’d enjoy eating.  And then finally there’s the fact that this fruit will make her wiser.  How can you pass up an unharmful, delicious looking fruit that will make you wiser?

And after Eve ate some, she gave Adam some to eat as well.  I won’t go into it in any depth, but we always speak of Adam as being the source of sin and not Eve.  The short answer is that Eve was deceived when she sinned while Adam should have known full well that what he was doing was wrong.  This doesn’t mean that we are off the hook if we sinned and didn’t know better or were deceived into doing so.  Eve is still punished for her sin.  Adam takes the full blame here because his was a willful sin without deception or coercion of any kind.  With Adam’s sin there is also a matter of seminal headship and federal headship which I won’t really get into.  That’s a different theological discussion.

Eve got exactly what she wanted and what the serpent told her would happen.  Her eyes were opened in verse 7 but the result was not what she wanted.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Adam and Eve’s new found knowledge tells them that they are naked.  They are physically naked so they sew fig leaves together.  But those fig leaves can’t cover up their spiritual nakedness so they attempt to hide from God in the garden.  Of course they are not hidden from God and He knows of their sin.  Judgment will come upon Adam, Eve, and the serpent.  But rather than end on a negative note, I’ll close with a positive note.  Despite all of the ugliness that occurs with the first sin, there is still some good news.

Genesis 3:15 is what is known as the protoevangelium, or first gospel.  Adam and Eve need some good news now that they have sinned.

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.

This is the announcement that Jesus, the offspring of the woman, was going to come and crush the head of the serpent.  Fig leaves couldn’t do anything to deal with the spiritual nakedness that Adam and Eve had so God gave them the permanent solution in Jesus.

Looking at a literal six day creation

There is an obvious debate over whether the biblical account of creation is true or not.  I think that part of this debate is blown out of proportion while another part is perhaps oversimplified.  In short, if you don’t believe the Bible, you really have no reason to believe in creation.  People who don’t must come up with some theory on our origin and evolution is the most popular theory to explain our existence.

That’s the part that I believe is overblown.  Why should I expect non-religious people to hold to an obviously religious theory of our origin?  I’m using the word religious here because Christians and Jews both follow the Old Testament and have the same creation story as a part of our heritage.  However there are many religions that have some kind of creation story as well.  I, as a Christian, hold to a Christian interpretation of the creation story.  My point is, why would someone who holds no value for a creation story choose to believe it over supposedly scientific theories?  We shouldn’t be surprised that non-religious people don’t want to be taught a religious theory of our origin any more than religious people don’t want theories taught that appear to contradict their religious beliefs.

So, with that in mind, I’m not trying to debate or convince a non-religious person that the biblical story of creation is the correct one.  My goal today is to discuss what the Bible says about the story of creation and how Christians should go about interpreting it.  This is where I think things have been oversimplified and perhaps we’ve failed in our teaching as a church.

The assumption is that Christians believe in creation and non-Christians believe in evolution.  But there are a number of people who consider themselves Christians who also believe in some form of evolution.  The question is, does the Bible support that.  For starters, there are some people who call themselves Christians who pretty much say, the scientific evidence is overwhelming, the Bible can’t be trusted as far as science is concerned.  This really isn’t a debate for these Christians either.

At the heart of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Science says that people don’t rise from the dead.  Science says that miracles don’t exist.  I am not saying that you ignore everything science says just because you believe the Bible teaches differently.  What I am saying however is that there are obvious contradictions between what the Bible says occurred at times and what science says is possible.  All religions require some amount of faith.  And for that matter, so does science.  We weren’t there to witness creation so we have to believe that it happened as it was recorded.  In the same vein, scientists have not been watching evolution for millions of years.  They deduce their own conclusions based upon only what they can observe in the here and now and hypothesize what it took to bring about what they now see.

So, let’s go back to the Bible.  I won’t read the creation story because it is quite a familiar story to most people but if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s in Genesis 1-2.  One of the things that we are told, and this is probably the most important detail for our debate, is that all of creation was made in six days and that God rested on the seventh day.

Now some people will say, it’s there in black and white, God created in six days.  If you believe the Bible is true, you have to believe in a literal six day creation.  This is obviously the most literal way of interpreting the story.  I will say that I believe in interpreting the Bible as literally as possible except where it is obvious that something is not meant to be literal.

What do I mean by this?  The short explanation would be a case where in the Psalms it may say something like “God will shelter you under His wings.”  This probably should not be interpreted to mean that God literally has wings.  It should be understood as a metaphor for God’s protection.

The creation story, however, is one that can be taken literally without any stretch of the imagination.  But let’s look at a few other possibilities for the sake of argument.  The most popular belief other than a literal six day creation is what is known as theistic evolution.  This is not to be confused with atheistic evolution which denies the existence of God.  Theistic evolution is an attempt to combine what science is telling us and what the Bible says.  Ordinarily I believe that this is an admirable goal because God is the creator of all the science around us.  The things that we can’t explain around us are not unexplainable; we just haven’t explained them yet.

Theistic evolution says that God created us as the Bible says but He used the process of evolution and millions of years to do it.  In theistic evolution, God is still involved in the creation process as He guides our evolution to make us into what we are today.

There is another similar theory to theistic evolution.  It is called the day-age theory.  The day age theory contends that the days of the creation story should not be considered literal days but rather ages.  Each day or rather age is a description of our stage of evolution.

These theories sound good on the surface but you also have to discount certain details of the creation story to fit them in.  On the third day we have the creation of plants and trees.  It is not until the fifth day that we have the creation of animals in the sea and air and finally on the sixth day that we have animals on the land.  At first glance the evolutionist may say that this is in line with what they believe as things become more complex and we even see creatures come up from the water and onto the land.

But here’s the problem with the order of creation and the idea that each day is an age representing millions of years in the evolutionary process.  In short, plants can’t survive without animals.  We know that plants are essential for our survival as they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen so that we can breathe.  But the opposite is also true.  Plants need animals to produce carbon dioxide so that they can breathe.

Furthermore, plants need animals to reproduce.  A few years ago there was some concern because of a big drop in the bee population.  This meant more than just a lack of honey.  Bees are particularly important for pollinating plants so that they can reproduce.  Other insects do this as well, but the point is that plants wouldn’t survive millions of years without pollination.  And of course there are plenty of other benefits that animals provide for plants.

So if you want to believe in creation by evolution you don’t take the creation story literally but you must also discount the order of creation as it is described .  That’s a problem in my book but still others will contend that the story was not meant to be taken literally.

One final theory that I’ll briefly touch upon is the Gap Theory.  This theory contends that there is a large gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This theory contends that God created everything good in verse 1.  But formless and empty with darkness in verse 2 is an indication that something went wrong.  There’s different interpretations as to what may have happened here.  Some believe that the fall of Satan occurred during this time and that is what had corrupted the world.  Others say that this is when dinosaurs were in the world and that what takes place in the rest of the creation story is actually a “recreation.”

The problem with the gap theory and all of the many permutations it takes is that there’s no reason to conclude any sort of gap between 1:1 and 1:2.  It is purely speculative.  Sure, science says that dinosaurs existed long before man ever did but that can’t be true if creation is a literal six days, but why jump to the conclusion that God then recreated the earth after the dinosaurs?  The Gap Theory takes a whole lot for granted and makes far too many assumptions for me to feel the slightest bit comfortable with the idea.

Obviously I didn’t address all of the theories surrounding the creation story.  I didn’t provide the counter arguments for some theories about theistic evolution.  There’s plenty of science around creation that I didn’t address.  This is simply meant as a brief overview of the topic of creation and what Christians believe about it.  I recommend further investigation on the topic before forming an opinion on the issue.