I am a Biblical creationist, and as such I personally adhere to and publicly advocate that stance without hesitation. Further defined, I am a Young-Earth Biblical creationist, taking the Word of God very seriously, and expecting that (with exception to instances employing figures-of-speech and visions) the Bible says what it means and means what it says. Biblical creationism, not limited simply to the Young-Earth variety, (1) is by no means the only form of supernatural creation, and the differences, though subtle in some cases, set it apart from all others. What is it that makes Biblical creation different?
There are many religions across the globe which possess their own specific notions about our origins. Along with Christianity, the religions of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism make up the five most influential belief systems in the world, impacting everything from societal stability and geopolitics to economic trends.
It is no surprise that these five faiths are intrinsically different, each holding their own views of life, death, and beyond, but how do their origin accounts compare? Can those origins reveal anything worthwhile about each? Also, where do the adherents of these stand in regard to secular naturalism and its pillars of evolution and deep-time?
The Hindu faith, for instance, advocates a belief that all life actually descended to their current physical and mental state from a higher level of pure consciousness, living and dying in a constant cycle of life and death for perhaps trillions of years.
Interestingly, Hindu creationism is more of a composite of concepts rather than a specific structured belief, with their religious texts offering a range of often contradictory ideas concerning the creation of the universe.
In one version of creation, the god Brahma began in nothingness, and in that state he manifested great waters through the power of his mind. Into these waters he deposited his seed, and from that union grew a magnificent golden egg from which he hatched. Upon splitting, the two halves of the egg became the earth and the sky. Lonely in that new world, Brahma then split himself into a male version and a female version of himself, in time creating all living things through unions between the two. Furthermore, Brahma is but one of three gods – the others being Vishnu and Shiva – who together form the “Supreme One,” overseeing the creation, preservation, and destruction of endless universes.
Given the nature of their accounts, most Hindus regard these tales of creation as allegorical, easily reconciling them in some cases with an acceptance of evolution. In fact, some have advocated that the Varanas – intelligent ape-like creatures described in the epic Sanskrit poem, the Ramayana, as existing many millions of years ago – are references to prehistoric hominins.
Tellingly however such reconciliation is both factually and scripturally limited, failing to fully satisfy the Hindu creation accounts and the naturalistic origins of the mainstream alike.
Buddhism shall be mentioned only here in passing, as it differs from all other major worldviews in that it is more of a philosophy than a religion. Though it appeals to many in both the East and in the West, it offers no insight into either biological or cosmic creation; the very notion of such defies their belief that existence is eternal. Though some, including the Dalai Lama himself,(2) have questioned the evolution paradigm, stating that Darwinian evolution does not account for the creation of life nor is it even testable, they are resigned to either accept it or ignore it for they have no philosophical or scriptural argument against it. They possess only unanswered questions. From the Buddhist perspective, there is no god to revere, no sin to commit against that absent god, and no soul to save, only balance and the pursuit of it on karmic cycles of death and reincarnation, followed in time by blissful, unconscious nirvana.
The remaining three of the most influential world religions all share a common origin, and together Christianity, Judaism, and Islam make up what is known as the Abrahamic Religions. Given their common source, all possess similar notions of creation, but it is in the interpretations of these creation accounts where we find some telling differences.
The Judeo-Christian account, as provided by a straightforward reading of the Book of Genesis, is set over the course of one week, with everything from the stellar to the biological being instituted during the first six days. A brief overview of the events of each is as follows:
- On the First Day, God, omnipotent and eternal, existing outside or this reality and outside of time itself, established creation, forming the heavens and the Earth from the waters, and separating the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-5)
- On the Second Day, God divided the waters that covered creation, establishing a boundary that separated the waters above from the waters below (Genesis 1:6-8)
- On the Third Day, God gathered the waters into seas and made the dry land appear, and across the globe he created vegetation and all manner of plant life (Genesis 1:9-13)
- On the Fourth Day, God formed the sun and moon in the heavens to rule the day and the night, and established the stars to be for signs, seasons, and the passage of time (Genesis 1:14-19)
- On the Fifth Day, God created from the waters all aquatic life and all aerial life (Genesis 1:20-23)
- On the Sixth Day, God created from the earth all terrestrial life, from the creeping things to the great beasts, and with them, after His own image, He formed the special creation, man (Adam), and from a rib taken from man’s side God fashioned woman (Eve), and together they were granted authority over all life on the planet, and commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:24-31)
- On the Seventh Day, God rested, not from exhaustion or fatigue, but because His creative acts were complete, and He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (Genesis 2:1-3)
Stepping away from Judeo-Christian tradition, we find that the Islamic story of creation in the Quran is quite a different affair, offering few details amongst a persistently vague and disjointed narrative, leaving much room for interpretation and debate. That account is as follows:
- Over the course of six periods, Allah created the heavens, the Earth, and all things between them (Sura 32:4)
- In the beginning, the Heavens and Earth were a single smoky body of creation until it was broken apart. (Sura 21:30)
- Within the heavens, Allah made the moon and sun (Sura 71:15-16)
- From the waters of the Earth, Allah brought forth all creatures that walk, swim, crawl, and fly (Sura 24:45)
- Allah caused a great rain to pour over the Earth, and in doing so the soil softened, and through it rose the vegetation of the planet (Sura 21:53)
- Molding the clay and water into human form, Allah breathed life into it, and it became the first man, Adam (Sura 32:8)
- Taking him to paradise, Allah created woman, Eve, from out of man’s side (Sura 4:1)
One need not be a scholar or historian to recognize both the similarities and the differences at play between the two narratives. That said, while similarities certainly do exist, if only superficially at best, the ambiguity of the timeframe and the order of events during that period have led to conflict amongst traditional believers of Islam and the younger generations.
For the newest adherents to that faith, the inclusion of evolution and deep-time are worthwhile and not at all contradictory to the account. In defense of this notion, they cite the Quran’s overall lack of detail concerning the creation event, saying that Allah has allowed them to make sense of it through science. With this mindset firmly taking root amongst younger Muslims, Islam by and large is poised to be rapidly and thoroughly infiltrated by naturalism in spite of whatever reservations the elders of that world yet hold against it.
Going forward, it must be noted that the apparent similarities between the Judeo-Christian faiths and that of Islam are not by accident, and this truth goes well beyond the creation account. History records that Muhammad, the heralded prophet of Islam, was born some 570 years after Christ. As such, he had at least a passing familiarity with the earlier faiths of the Jews and the Christians. Interestingly, he apparently was especially familiar with the deviations of them, such as Gnosticism.
So the story goes, Mohammad approached the Jewish leaders of the day asking that they recognize him as a prophet of God, a reformer of classical Judaism. This request of course was promptly refused. Rejected, Muhammad from that time forth harbored a hatred for their faith, ultimately forming his own religion, co-opting beliefs and traditions from both Judaism and Christianity. His religion founded, Mohammad targeted the Jews that rejected him, establishing within Islam core doctrines to maintain his hatred for them even beyond his death, calling for nothing less than war against the Jews, the pillage of their cities, the enslavement of their peoples, the rape of their helpless, and the decapitation of all those who would not submit.
Make of that what you will, but it seems simple enough to me that whatever “truths” Islam may claim to possess likely originated from within the purer faiths of Judaism and Christianity. Those stolen traditions, while still maintaining certain vestiges of their original forms, have over time have been greatly corrupted by Muhammad’s faithful, residing now as shadows of something superior in the midst of a dark and imposing imposter faith.
Looking back to the Judeo-Christian account of creation, though the two share the same record, indeed the same Scriptural source, do their interpretations line-up as well? The answer, of course, isn’t as simple as one would hope.
Historically, most classical Rabbis advocated a literal belief in Genesis. Indeed we find this tradition going back for many, many generations. The Jews of antiquity accepted Genesis literally just as most Christians have since their advent in the first century AD. Even Jesus Christ Himself, a Jew to be sure, in His many references to Genesis, made no mystery about that fact that He believed it as fact too.
Perhaps in an effort to distinguish themselves from their Christian counterparts, a few modern scholars have taken to the notion that, though the account may be the same between the two faiths, there are drastic differences in the interpretation of it. They claim that while Christians have traditionally accepted the Genesis creation event literally, Jews on the other hand have historically interpreted the text more loosely, allowing room for interpretation and extended commentary. Unfortunately for these modern critics, there is a body of evidence that counters their claims.
Even so, modern Jewish teachers, indeed the greater Jewish community at large, now typically view the Genesis account as more allegorical, refusing to acknowledge the events described within as reality. For Orthodox Jews, there cannot be any valid confrontation between new scientific insights and traditional doctrines. As they see it, any conflict that arises between their interpretation of their Scriptures and modern science is believed to be derived from a limited understanding concerning the ways of God. Science, they claim, must be as valid and as true as their Scriptures.
Notes & References
- Within the Biblical view of creation, there are many variations, including (a) Gap Creationism, (b) Day-Age Creationism, (c) Progressive Creationism, (d) Evolutionary Creationism, (e) Theistic Evolutionism, and others
- Dalai Lama, “The Universe in a Single Atom,” 2006, pages 111-115
– This was an excerpt from “Remnants of Eden: Evolution, Deep-Time, & the Antediluvian World.” Get your copy here today. God bless! –
FOUNDRY4 is a proud member of the International Association for Creation