The first six days


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SOME CREATIONISTS VISUALIZE GOD as a Magician Creator. Certainly, by this view, the universe, the earth, and all living things had to be intelligently designed, but they were brought into being in a twinkle in time — in six 24-hour days. But Genesis One can be read differently, and the testimony of the created order itself loudly proclaims a long, rich history of creation. We can see the invisible glory of God most effectively by studying the visible works of His hands. When you grasp the simple yet profound concept that God wrought endless wonders over many millions of years before Adam's creation, your life will never be the same.

We can think of other possible metaphors for the Creator God than that of magician — builder, chef or musical composer. Builders sometimes leave materials exposed to the elements for a while to cure before using them. Chefs marinate ingredients. Composers think up glorious symphonies in which certain repeated themes are interwoven with new elements. One can apply all these ideas to the concept of creation over a protracted period.

Scientists of the twentieth century were truly amazed to gradually recognize a staggering truth — the continental architecture of this planet has undergone constant change over millions of years. When God commanded the dry land to appear, He created continental “plates” that slide around over the mantle below, driven by convective currents in the interior. Though they move at a rate of only a handful of centimeters a year, over millions of years that amounts to dramatic shifts. As the plates have moved and the configuration of the land and oceans has changed, ocean currents have changed, too, leading to new climatic conditions. For instance, when North and South America became connected only a few million years ago, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were sundered, leading to dramatic changes of ocean currents and a new world climate —ice ages interspersed on somewhat of a regular basis with mild interglacial periods. God timed the creation of man to occur within one of those interglacial periods.

The animals and plants we see in the created order today represent but a small percentage of the totality of living things brought into being over time. Many more species than those that currently exist have lived at God's command and then disappeared at His command, each one designed for the conditions of its time. We all know about dinosaurs, but they represent only a small fraction of the numerous creatures that have risen and fallen. For hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs appeared, the waters of the earth teemed periodically with bizarre creatures such as armored, jawless fishes, trilobites, ammonites, graptolites and all sorts of other oddities. For many millions of years the swampy land areas of the earth harbored giant salamander-like amphibians, not to mention huge dragonflies, strange crab-like creatures, and vegetation that would appear quite strange to us today.

When dinosaurs were created, they were not given sole occupancy of the planet. They shared it with mammal-like reptiles, numerous other kinds of reptiles, and even birds and unusual mammals. Some dinosaurs even fell prey to early kinds of mammals. Over the course of 200 million years dinosaurs appeared and then vanished. According to the available evidence, scientists have concluded that everybody‘s favorite dinosaur — T rex — lived for a mere two million years at the very end of the age of reptiles. During the time of the dinosaurs, large tracts of the continents were covered by shallow inland seas which teemed with unusual fishes that were preyed upon by marine “lizards” and the other dinosaur-age creature that has fired so many imaginations — pterodactyls.

As the dinosaurs approached their demise, the shallow seas began to vanish as the land uplifted in response to divine command. The earth was being prepared for the dawn of a new era, the age of mammals. Over the past 65 million years endless kinds of mammals and birds have come and gone. North America's flatlands once resounded to the thundering of herds of rhinos and camels, as well as many different kinds of horse-like mammals. Saber-toothed cats and “thunder beasts” were represented, too. And, believe it or not, at one time North America was the home of most of the world's marsupials, which are today found almost exclusively in South America and Australia.

As the age of man drew closer, many of the mammals and other animals, including turtles, snakes and lizards, termed “megafauna” by scientists, took on huge proportions. Giant armadillos weighing in at an estimated 500 pounds (230 kg) and stretching over two meters long ranged the American South. Europe had its huge cave lions, cave bears, and woolly mammoths. Australia's plains and bush were inhabited by wombats the size of a small car. Africa's megafauna — elephants, giraffes, and rhinoceroses — survive to this day.

What we see today represents the poor man's share of what has been. After all, the planet can only support so many different kinds of creature at any one time. But the fossils provide unmistakable evidence of God's limitless powers of ingenuity and creativity. To God be all the glory.

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