The Chaotic Earth Theory
Vol: 24 Issue: 27 Wednesday, July 27, 2016
One of the areas of Scripture I’ve always been least comfortable with in terms of my understanding is the first two chapters of Genesis. I am a Bible literalist – I believe the Bible is intended to be taken literally unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
The problem, so to speak, with being a Bible literalist is self-evident – some of it is difficult to visualize literally. And there are some things in our existence that difficult to reconcile with the traditional understanding of Genesis.
I know that the earth bears scars that aren’t explained by the young earth theory. At the same time, there is no room within Scripture to allow for evolution without tearing the first five chapters of Genesis out of the Bible.
Here’s the deal. The Garden of Eden story, as related in Scripture, is either literally true or our redemption is founded in a myth. You can’t have a literal Redeemer that shed literal Blood as the price of redemption for a mythical Fall.
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit,” (1st Corinthians 15:45)
The “last Adam” is Jesus.
That pretty much demands there be a first Adam. And the first Adam could not have evolved, and the Bible still be both literal and true. Neither could Eve. Paul slams that door shut in his first letter to Timothy.
“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” (1st Timothy 2:13)
Here we have two literal statements. They are not only literally stated, but taken together they form the bedrock doctrine of Christianity, as we’ve already discussed.
The first Messianic prophecy, that the Redeemer would be the seed of a woman, is made in conjunction with the Fall.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
So the first five chapters of Genesis must be a literal account – if there wasn’t a first Adam, there would be no need for a Second.
On the other hand, it is literally true that there are things on this earth that are unquestionably older than six thousand years – or even twelve thousand years, assuming the ‘thousand years is as to one day’ theory of creation.
In that theory, each of the six days of Creation is really 1,000 years long, plus the six thousand years since Creation would allow for a 12,000 year old earth.
There are the remains of humanoids that are undeniably different than modern humans, but are also different than apes. But they are also not the so-called missing links of evolution, since they can’t be old enough for evolution’s timeline.
The earth bears the scars of an Ice Age – scars much older than six thousand or even twelve thousand years. But there still isn’t room to allow for evolutionary theory — without having to throw out the doctrinal foundation of Christianity.
If man evolved, there was no first Adam, no original sin, no fall of man, and no promise of redemption. The Bible cannot be true, Jesus cannot be the Son of God, and I remain yet dead in my sins.
Evolution, like Creation, must stand alone – one worldview cannot accommodate the other. Fortunately, there is FAR less evidence for evolution than there is for Creation.
The fact is that birds build nests as they have done throughout the history of mankind’s experience. Beavers build dams as they always have. Bears hibernate, bees nest together in hives to honey, ants build anthills, and so on.
There is zero evidence of a fossil in transition from one life-form to another and there is no evidence of the evolutionary process at work evolving higher forms of animals within the collective 6,000-year memory of human existence.
Over the course of 6,000 years, man has progressed from plowing the earth with a piece of wood to the development of modern farm implements like the modern combine.
Along the way, we can retrace the various steps that took us from a plow to the combine. We didn’t jump from a stick in the earth to a combine/harvester in a single leap.
And whatever is in use today will likely be replaced by an improved version later on. There is a trail that leads all the way back to the plow and points forward to the next great improvement in farming technology.
There are no examples of creatures in the process of evolving, and no evidence of mankind evolving into the next higher order over the course of our six thousand years of human history.
Still, there is plenty of evidence that says the earth is older than six thousand years. It is a conundrum.
If one goes back to reexamine the actual text of Genesis, one discovers a lot that isn’t there. The Bible does not say, for example, that the earth was created in its present form.
It says that, “in the beginning, the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light.” (1:2-3)
But the Bible does NOT say that the light was sunlight. Sunlight doesn’t make an appearance until the Fourth Day (Genesis 1:14) But Genesis 1:5 says that God divided the light from the darkness and the evening and the morning were the first day.
The Chaotic Earth Theory finds a prehistory here in the first few verses of Genesis, primarily based in what Scripture does not say in Genesis.
A young earth creation is not necessary to the creation of Adam and Eve the way the Fall of Man is necessary to the Redemption Story.
Isaiah 45:18 says,
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, he created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”
The RSV renders it this way;
“Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; He is God; that formed the earth and made it; He established it. He created it NOT A WASTE, He formed it to be inhabited.”
The Bible doesn’t specifically say what caused it to be a waste after the original creation, but it seems clear that sin pre-existed the Garden of Eden. Satan was already there when Adam and Eve arrived on the scene.
The Bible’s timeline demands that Satan and his angels were cast into the earth at some point before the Garden – which would be at some point before God said, “Let there be light.”
A re-examination of 2nd Peter 3:5-6 suggests an alternative understanding to ‘the world that then was’ and to the flood Peter spoke of:
“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, BEING OVERFLOWED WITH WATER, perished.”
This is generally understood as referring to Noah’s Flood, but that understanding doesn’t necessarily touch on any essential point of doctrine the way that dismissing a literal Garden of Eden does. Maybe Peter was referring to Noah’s Flood, but if so, he took some liberties with the text. Peter refers to a world that then was, but that perished when overflowed with water.
Oddly, Peter says nothing of Noah. And historically, the world didn’t perish.
God preserved Noah, his family and the seed of all living aboard the Ark. But the Genesis account described the pre-Adamic earth as without form and void.
Peter does refer to the “heavens and the earth which are now” and says that this creation will also eventually be replaced with a new creation.
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2nd Peter 3:12)
Peter speaks of this creation being destroyed by fervent heat. God promises Noah that never again will He destroy the earth by a flood. While it is by no means definitive, there is no reason to believe this was the only time the earth was destroyed by a flood.
Just that next time, it would be by fire.
Although I’ve found nothing in the text that would preclude the Chaotic Earth Theory, the prophet Jeremiah describes the following scene that seems to describe something very much like it:
“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was WITHOUT FORM AND VOID; and the heavens, and they had NO LIGHT.
I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they TREMBLED, and all the hills MOVED LIGHTLY. I beheld, and, lo, there was NO MAN, and all the BIRDS OF THE HEAVENS WERE FLED.
I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a WILDERNESS, and all the CITIES thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger.” (Jeremiah 4:23-26)
It is entirely possible that the evidence that suggests an old earth refers to this period before Adam and Eve. The geological history reveals the earth has spent much of prehistory in cold storage.
Genesis records God saying “let there be light” on the first day, but the light from the sun, moon and stars doesn’t appear until on day four.
Is it possible that the earth pre-existed and that it, and its inhabitants, were destroyed in some pre-Adamic judgment period in a manner similar to the Flood?
There’s nothing in Scripture that says it is impossible.
Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer this way:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12)
The timing seems odd. Isaiah seems to imply that Satan is cast from heaven for weakening the nations – yet Satan was already here when Adam was created.
If one reads through Isaiah 14, it is a judgment against Satan for some very specific actions. I’ll synopsize for the sake of space – you can follow along, starting with Isaiah 14:12.
Satan is judged for his five “I wills” in which he speaks out against God. For his sins, he is cast out of heaven, and brought down to hell, not into it, but “to the sides of the pit.”
There, Isaiah says, he was visible to the nations, whom he deceived, where they mock him, saying, “Is this the one that caused all this trouble?”
Satan is then cast ‘out of the grave’ (v 19) and judgment pronounced, “thou shall not be joined with them (presumably those who now mock him) because thou hast destroyed thy land and slain thy people” (v.20)
So, it is at least POSSIBLE that there was something before the Garden that involved Satan, destruction and death.
And there is no doctrinal damage done to either Judaism or Christianity by the acceptance of a chaotic earth theory into prehistory.
Indeed, it sorts out the interpretive problem with there being light four days before there is sunlight. The earth coming out of deep freeze also explains both the Ice Age and the placement of a firmament to “divide the waters”.
It explains the findings from Arctic core samples that suggest the Arctic once supported tropical vegetation. It explains a lot of things.
So, what about the Chaotic Earth Theory – is it true? I don’t know. It could be. So why bring it up? Unlike evolution, the Chaotic Earth Theory could be true and still allow for both a literal interpretation of Scripture and the inclusion of a long geological history.
But I don’t know. It is but a theory. I am presenting it as such, and not as doctrinal truth, so please don’t ask me to defend it.
There is nothing that necessarily argues against it from Scripture and there is plenty of Bible that seems to lean that way, if not necessarily rising to the level of proof text.
I know that we don’t know everything – Paul says that we see through a glass darkly – but I know that the Bible is true.
It says that God created the heavens and the earth. But nowhere does it tell us exactly when.