The first eleven chapters of Genesis have become extremely controversial because of the prevalent acceptance of the theory of evolution. Since people believe that evolution is a proven fact, they dismiss the authority of Scripture altogether or embrace theistic evolution which teaches that God created all things by means of evolution. They argue that Genesis 1-11 cannot be interpreted literally because it would contradict what we know to be scientifically true. But when the beginning of Genesis is treated as an allegory or myth, it undermines foundational truths of the Christian faith such as original sin, the need for salvation, marriage, modesty, and human dignity. As we shall see, Genesis is the foundation for the rest of Scripture. And since the authors of the New Testament interpreted Genesis 1-11 literally, theistic evolution is not an option for Christians who know the Bible. We must either reject the inerrancy and authority of all of Scripture or embrace all of Genesis as literal history.
When asked about whether divorce is permitted for any reason, Jesus responded by appealing to the narrative of Genesis: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female'” (Mark 10:6). The force of Jesus’ argument is dependent upon the truthfulness of the first two chapters of Genesis. Because the original man and woman were designed to be together for life, divorce is not acceptable (Matt 19:4-6). Notice also Jesus’ use of the phrase “from the beginning of creation.” He believed that the creation of man and woman took place at the beginning of creation and not billions or millions of years after creation began. The truth that man was created on the sixth day while the Sabbath was made on the seventh is the basis for Jesus’ assertion that the Sabbath was made for man’s good and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). Jesus also believed that the story of Cain and Abel was real history when he speaks of the blood of Abel together with the martyrdom of Zechariah (Matt 23:35). Jesus taught that the flood of Noah was universal and is the paradigm for his own coming which will bring judgment on the whole world as Noah’s flood did (Matt 24:37-39). Just as Noah’s flood brought universal destruction, no one will escape on the day of judgment except those who trust in Christ – the one to whom the ark pointed. The Gospel of Luke even contains the full genealogy of Jesus going all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:34-38).
Paul is even more explicit in his affirmation that Genesis is real history. All men trace their lineage back to Adam: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Adam was “the first man” which means he had no human parents (1 Cor 15:47). He is called the “man of dust” which shows that Paul believed Adam was created out of the dust of the ground (1 Cor 15:47-49). The fall of Adam and his disobedience is the reason why Christ had to obey God in our place to accomplish what Adam never could (Rom 5:12-19). Adam’s sin brought death to all mankind and Christ’s righteousness brings life to those who are in him (1 Cor 15:22). The fall of Adam not only had consequences for his descendents, but for all of creation which was subjected to decay because of his sin (Rom 8:19-23). The story of God creating Adam first and then Eve from Adam’s rib is also interpreted literally by Paul: “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (1 Cor 11:8-9). Eve was deceived by Satan who transformed himself into a serpent (2 Cor 11:3). The order of creation is the basis for Paul’s teaching that women cannot teach or have authority over men in the church (1 Tim 2:13). The truthfulness of this order is reinforced by Satan’s attempt to undermine it by going to Eve instead of Adam (1 Tim 2:14). God created the one-flesh union of man and woman in marriage to be a picture of his eternal plan to unite the church to Christ (Eph 5:31-32).
The author of Hebrews bases his interpretation of the Sabbath as pointing to a future day of Sabbath rest in eternity based on God’s resting from creation on the seventh day (Heb 4:3-4). The stories of Abel, Enoch, and Noah are all interpreted literally as referring to actual people (Heb 11:4-7). Abel’s blood is contrasted with that of Christ (Heb 12:24). The apostle Peter uses the story of the flood as a picture for baptism (1 Pet 3:20). Only eight people were saved from Noah’s flood which destroyed the ancient world (2 Pet 2:5; 3:6). He describes the creation of dry land as coming out of the water just as Genesis 1:9-10 does (2 Pet 3:4-5). Jude tells us that Enoch was the seventh from Adam (Jude 1:14). The apostle John describes the murder of Abel by Cain as real history (1 John 3:12). The depiction of Satan as a dragon is an allusion to the deception of Eve by Satan when he transformed himself into a snake (Rev 12:3-4). And a dragon is nothing more than a snake with arms and legs (Gen 3:14). The end of the book of Revelation alludes back to the garden of Eden when it speaks of the tree of life in the New Heavens and New Earth (Rev 22:2).
For those who want to dig deeper into this subject, Walt Brown’s book In the Beginning contains a wealth of scientific evidence which points to God’s existence and the historicity of the events of Genesis.