GeoScriptures — Genesis 1:1 — When did “In the beginning” occur?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” — Genesis 1:1

One thing that young-Earth creationists and the New Atheists agree on is that if one were to believe the Bible, one would have to believe that the universe, including planet Earth, is only 6000 years old. Of course, both the YECs and the atheists are wrong.

Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 is divided into seven days; six days of creative activity, and the seventh day, which is God’s Sabbath. For days one through six, there is a pattern of “And God said, __________” for the beginning of the day, and “And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day” for the end of the day. Genesis 1:1-2 lies outside of this pattern, and so is likely not intended to be considered part of the first day of creation:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. — Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV)

Because the first two verses are outside of the “days” structure, the “heavens and the earth” are, according to the text, of indeterminate age. “In the beginning” could have occurred immediately before the six days (as YECs believe), 13.5 billion years earlier, or some other amount of time. The Bible does not say.

There is much more to the Biblical case for an old Earth (or better, the Biblical case for Biblical ambiguity regarding the age of the Earth), just as there is much more to the YEC case for a young Earth. But I think it is extremely important to point out that the starting point of the creation passage in Genesis is not “Earth is young” but ambiguity regarding the antiquity of the creation.

Grace and Peace

Reading the Bible in 2013

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4 ESV

It is through the Scriptures that we can know God, Christ, ourselves, and how to live in regards to God and our neighbor. I cannot think of any greater thing in life than to know the Creator of the universe and Redeemer of my life.

Many make a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible more consistently than they have in the past, and many don’t stick to that resolution. Here is what works for me. Rather than using a reading schedule, with a listing of what chapters to read each day, I use a Bible reading checklist:

The GeoChristian Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file

It has all sixty-six books of the Bible with their chapters. I mark off the chapters as I read them.



If Bible reading is new to you, I would recommend starting with the life of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament Gospels. These four books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—each present the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but with different emphases and styles. The Gospel of John would be a good place to start.

This system gives me greater flexibility than a day-by-day schedule does, yet still helps me to reach my reading goals. This year I plan on reading the New Testament (much of it twice), the historical books of the Old Testament (Genesis through 2 Chronicles) and the poetical books (Job through Song of Solomon). Two advantages of using this system over a schedule is that I can vary my pace, and don’t get frustrated if I get behind the schedule.

I also intend to do some more intensive study and meditation in a few New Testament books.

The checklist has two pages; I like to print it on two sides on heavy paper, fold it, and stick it in my Bible.

Feel free to download and print this for yourself and pass it on to others:

The GeoChristian Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file

As important as Bible reading is to me, I realize that it is much more important that the Word be in me than that I be in the Word. One can read the Bible every day and learn lots of facts and end up being a self-righteous hypocrite. So my prayer is that you and I would be transformed by prayerful, humble, meditative reading of the Scriptures. May you know Christ and his salvation better through the intake of his Word.

Grace and Peace


P.S. Here are some good Bible reading schedules if you prefer that over using a checklist:

Most-read articles on The GeoChristian, 2012

There are still a few days left in the year, but here are the ten most-read articles on The GeoChristian for 2012. Only one of them was written this year.

  1. Dr. Dino still in prison — This has consistently been the most-read article on The GeoChristian since I wrote it almost four years ago. Kent Hovind, a.k.a. “Dr. Dino,” is a favorite of many young-Earth creationists, but is wrong about just about everything, from geology to law to a number of conspiracy theories.
  2. Stegosaurus in Cambodian temple? — Is there really a dinosaur engraved at Ta Prohm? Nah.
  3. Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis — St. Augustine rips into those who use bad science to prop up their Christian faith.
  4. The stratigraphic column — not a figment of geologists’ imaginations — Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian… YEC flood geology doesn’t explain this.
  5. John MacArthur on the age of the Earth and theistic evolution — I like John MacArthur as a Bible teacher, but…
  6. Dinosaur footprints part 3 — Why dinosaur footprints are powerful evidence against YEC flood geology.
  7. John Piper and the age of the Earth — One of many thoroughly orthodox Bible teachers who believes that Earth could be billions of years old.
  8. Seeing God in nature — A quote from author Philip Yancey on the value of God’s creation.
  9. Death before the fall — an old-Earth Biblical Perspective — The Bible does not teach that animals did not die before Adam’s sin.
  10. Young-Earth creationism and the intensity of volcanism — My analysis of a really bad age-of-the-Earth argument from the Institute for Creation Research.

Grace and Peace

Wow! — the USGS National Geologic Map Database — MapView

For a geologist/cartographer like me, this could be as mesmerizing as Google Earth!

The U.S. Geological Survey has done an absolutely wonderful job of presenting geological maps online with its National Geologic Map Database MapView. This site offers a seamless view of geologic maps produced by the USGS and state geological surveys. A good geologic map in itself is a thing of beauty, and the USGS has done just about everything right in making this page both a work of art and easy to use. MapView is a useful tool as well, and can be used to locate and download the PDF geologic maps that were used to create it.

The MapView page has a well-balanced, attractive layout.
The MapView page has a well-balanced, attractive layout.
Zoomed in on the Beartooth Mountains, south-central Montana, with map outlines turned on.
Zoomed in on the Beartooth Mountains and surrounding area, south-central Montana and northwest Wyoming, with map outlines turned on.
The Beartooth Mountains have it all -- Archean basement gneiss and felsic instrusives (Agr and Agn), the mafic layered Stillwater Complex (ssss), Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks (ssss), volcanic rocks (sssss), glacial deposits (Qg), and it shows up well on the National Geologic Map Database MapView site.
The Beartooth Mountains have it all — Archean basement gneiss and felsic instrusives (Agr and Agn), the mafic layered Stillwater Complex intrusion (Asw1 through Asw5), Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks (Cs, DOs, Mm, Kk, etc.), volcanic rocks (just off of this image), glacial deposits (Qg) — and it shows up well on the National Geologic Map Database MapView site.
The controls are easy to use.
The controls are easy to use.

The only significant shortcoming is that this map shows raster data (images, scanned maps), so one cannot do queries on individual map polygons. When one uses the “Identify” tool, the site provides information about the map that is being viewed rather than the geological unit. On the Beartooth Mountains map above, for example, the Identify tool will open a window that says that the map is the “Preliminary Geologic Map of the Red Lodge 30′ x 60′ Quadrangle,” but will not tell not inform one that Jm is the Jurassic Morrison Formation, or that Asw4 is the Lower Anorthosite Zone of the Stillwater Complex; one would need to download the PDF map or report for that information. Still, this site will prove to be a great tool for viewing and downloading geological maps.

Grace and Peace

Merry Christmas from The GeoChristian

From Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Chapter 5 (God Incarnate):

It is no wonder that thoughtful people find the gospel of Jesus Christ hard to believe, for the realities with which it deals pass man’s understanding. But it is sad that so many make faith harder than it need be, by finding difficulties in the wrong places.

Take the atonement, for instance. Many feel difficulty there. How, they ask, can we believe that the death of Jesus of Nazareth—one man, expiring on a Roman gibbet—put away a world’s sins? How can that death have any bearing on God’s forgiveness of our sins today? Or take the resurrection, which seems to many a stumbling-block. How, they ask, can we believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead? Granted, it is hard to deny that the tomb was empty—but surely the difficulty of believing that Jesus emerged from it into unending bodily life is even greater.


But in fact the real difficulty, because the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here at all. It lies, not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man.


It is from misbelief, or at least inadequate belief, about the incarnation that difficulties at other points in the gospel story usually spring. But once the incarnation is grasped as a reality, these other difficulties dissolve.


If He was truly God the Son, it is much more startling that He should die than that He should rise again.

Merry Christmas to all who read The GeoChristian,


Around the web 12/23/2012

NewsweekCoverEhrmanUN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEWSWEEK — The print edition of Newsweek is being discontinued, but they had to take one last swipe at Biblical Christianity. One of the final cover stories was What Do We Really Know About Jesus? by the non-Christian Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman. Most of Ehrman’s attacks on the Biblical record have been answered by Christian scholars numerous times, and others fall into the “so what?” category.

In response, Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason writes, “Many times, questions about the Bible can be resolved simply by reading what the text actually says, rather than believing what we think it says.” As I’ve pointed out before, doing this in itself takes care of a great number of apparent “contradictions” that authors such as Ehrman are concerned about.

UN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE ATHEISTS — Dr. Ehrman is wrong, but the organization American Atheists goes beyond being wrong with their “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” advertising campaign, complete with a billboard in New York City’s Times Square, which can be seen at Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion.

Jesus a myth? I’m quite skeptical.

From the CNN article:

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” [American Atheists’ president] Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

Isn’t that sort of like saying Canada Day (July 1st) doesn’t really have anything to do with Canada because it was predated by the Fourth of July?

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES — I tend to be skeptical whenever someone comes out with a “I went to heaven and saw a glorious light” story, while acknowledging that such things could happen. Most of my cynicism comes from the lack of the centrality of Christ in most of these stories.

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, puts these near-death (or near-heaven) experiences in perspective in his article Incredible Journeys: What to Make of Visits to Heaven.

In this vein, the silliest claim made in the current wave of books is that because of such experiences, we now know, as some of the titles suggest, that Heaven Is for Real or that there is Proof of Heaven. Christians believe that “heaven is for real” not because of the testimony of a 4-year-old boy or even of a neurosurgeon, but because Jesus Christ testified to such and rose from the grave to vindicate his testimony. He tells the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43, ESV). His teachings not only assumed a tangible, bodily existence known as the kingdom of heaven, but also an intermediate glorious state of bodiless existence.

A MODEST PROPOSAL — From the Parchment & Pen Blog: Should William & Kate Get an Abortion? You know, they haven’t been married very long, its only a zygote, and so forth.

Grace and Peace

A river runs through it — on Titan

The Cassini probe, in orbit around Saturn, has captured a new radar image showing a long river on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

From the European Space Agency:

“The international Cassini mission has spotted what appears to be a miniature extraterrestrial version of the Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 400 km from its ‘headwaters’ to a large sea.

It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere beyond Earth.

Scientists deduce that the river is filled with liquid because it appears dark along its entire extent in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.


Titan is the only other world we know of that has stable liquid on its surface. While Earth’s hydrologic cycle relies on water, Titan’s equivalent cycle involves hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane.

Images from Cassini’s visible-light cameras in late 2010 revealed regions that darkened after recent rainfall.”

Credit: d

HT: Clastic Detritus

Grace and Peace