Genesis 1–11: Essential for a Biblical Worldview
Terry Mortenson, MDiv, PhD
In his excellent new book, An Introduction to Worldview, David Closson, FRC’s director of the Center for Biblical Worldview, highlights George Barna’s recent research on the church in America. It reveals that only 21 percent of evangelical Christians and only 37 percent of pastors have a truly biblical worldview.
In response, Barna proposed seven cornerstones of a biblical worldview. Those cornerstones are indeed essential for a truly (i.e., fully) biblical world view. But I submit for your consideration that we must have an eighth:
The literal history in Genesis 1–11 (i.e., a literal, six-day creation only a little more than 6000 years ago and a global flood at the time of Noah) is foundational, either directly or indirectly, to every doctrine in the rest of the Bible.
Trying to harmonize Genesis 1–11 with secular claims about evolution and/or millions of years simply cannot be done without undermining the truth, clarity, and authority of Scripture. Such attempted harmonizations (gap theory, day-age theory, framework hypothesis, cosmic temple view, local flood view, etc.) weakening Christians’ understanding of and commitment to the biblical worldview. Consider Barna’s cornerstones (in bold italics) in relationship to Genesis1–11.
- An orthodox, biblical understanding of God.
Genesis 1–11 reveals that God is the eternal, sovereign Creator, who by His infinite intelligence, wisdom, and power supernaturally spoke things into existence creating a very good creation with no moral or natural evil. He created Adam and Eve in His image, distinct from animals, to know and love Him. He is the holy judge who cursed the creation in response to Adam’s sin and cursed the earth again at the Flood because of rampant sin. And He judged wicked mankind at the Tower of Babel, resulting in the formation of diverse people groups with different languages (within a single human race). He is a God who cares about His creation and commands sinners to care for the creation. So, the God revealed in Scripture could not possibly create using millions of years of animal death, disease, extinction, as well as hurricanes, asteroid impacts, and other natural evils, as evolutionary scientists claim. Such a method of creating would be contrary to God’s character and His inspired, truthful Word.
- All human beings are sinful by nature; every choice we make has moral considerations and consequences.
We are sinners by nature because we are all descended from Adam and Eve, the first two humans, who rebelled against God’s Word just as Genesis 3 says. And with a sin nature inherited from Adam, we all repeatedly choose to rebel against God’s Word, thinking (like them) that we can be gods of our own lives.
- The consequences of our sin can only be forgiven and eliminated through Jesus Christ. That forgiveness is available only through our personal, sincere acknowledgment and confession of our sins and complete reliance on His grace to forgive those sins.
The reason we need forgiveness is because of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. And the first prophetic promise of the Jewish Messiah, the Savior of the world, was given in that Garden (Genesis 3:15). Just as there was only one ark to save Noah and his family (along with the animals) from the global Flood, so Jesus is the only Ark to save us from the wrath to come. If Genesis is not literal history, then Jesus died for a mythological problem and is a mythological savior promising a mythological future. But Jesus and his apostles clearly believed Genesis 1–11 is literal history and based their teachings about gender, marriage, the gospel, and the Second Coming on those literal truths. If we trust the Lord Jesus for salvation, how can we not trust His Word in Genesis?
- The entire Bible is true, reliable, and relevant, making it the best moral guide for every person in all situations.
Over the last 200 years, since most of the church first started to accept the naturalistic story of millions of years of earth history, Genesis 1–1l has been the most attacked part of the Bible. Once the global Flood of Noah and the biblical chronology were rejected, most of the church then accepted evolution and even human evolution. It has been repeatedly observed that as people, churches, schools, denominations, mission organizations, etc. reject the literal history in Genesis, sooner or later they very often begin to doubt or deny other historical accounts or doctrines of the Bible as well.
- Absolute moral truth exists—and those truths are defined by God, described in the Bible, and are unchanging across time and cultures.
God is the authority behind the moral absolutes in Scripture (and written on every human heart), because He is Creator, and His Word is absolutely true. The moral chaos we are witnessing in the Western world is the result of rejecting the Creator and His Word. The Bible’s teaching that marriage is one man to one woman, that sex is only for within marriage, that there are only two genders, that abortion is murder, and that there is only one race is grounded in the truth of Genesis 1–11. We cannot with biblical consistency oppose abortion, the LGBTQ agenda, and racism without the literal history in Genesis.
- The ultimate purpose of human life is to know, love, and serve God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul.
God created Adam and Eve, and us through them, to find purpose and meaning only in a right relationship with God. But if millions of years of evolution is true, then Genesis is mythology, we are all accidents, and there is no ultimate purpose to life.
- Success on earth is best understood as consistent obedience to God—in thoughts, words, and actions.
Before we will obey God, we must trust Him. And we cannot trust Him without trusting His Word. But that trust should, indeed must, start with the very first eleven chapters of Genesis because those are God’s inspired, inerrant words, just like the rest of the Bible, and they are the foundation for all the commands and promises in God’s Word. Accepting millions of years (even if we reject biological and human evolution) and interpreting Genesis to try to fit that “deep time” anywhere into or before Genesis 1 undermines the reliability and authority of God’s Word and therefore weakens our obedience.
Our view of God, man, the world, history, nations, morality, and most importantly the gospel itself are rooted in the literal history of Genesis 1–11. Those chapters are foundational and essential to a truly biblical worldview. Without that foundation (e.g., by accepting millions of years), a person’s worldview is not fully biblical.
Neither the stories of biological or human evolution nor the story of millions of years of earth history nor the big bang story for the origin of the stars and galaxies and the solar system is derived from the Bible. Those “scientific theories” are rooted in a naturalistic, anti-biblical worldview. We simply cannot combine the claims of the scientific majority (rooted in a godless worldview) with the Scriptures and produce a biblical worldview.
As Christians, we must build all our thinking (including our thinking about the age of the creation) on God’s Word. America needs Christians who have a fully biblical worldview and who will boldly stand for that truth as our nation sinks deeper into moral anarchy, science-denying gender ideology, and spiritual darkness. Young people are walking away from the church in droves because the church’s failure to teach and defend a fully biblical worldview. The light of the literal truth of Genesis 1–11 is desperately needed in America. We cannot expect lost sinners to believe the Bible and the gospel, if we don’t believe the Bible from the very first verse.
There is strong scientific evidence confirming the truth of Genesis, especially regarding the age of the creation. So, adults, youth, and children can have good reasons to trust God’s Word and reject evolution and millions of years.
 For a biblical, theological, historical, paleontological, genetic, anatomical, archeological, and moral defense of the literal truth of Genesis about Adam and Eve, see the multi-author book, Searching for Adam: Genesis and the Truth about Man’s Origin, edited by Terry Mortenson.
 For historical context, see my lecture about this compromise of the church in the early nineteenth century or my book, The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology—Before Darwin.
 See Ken Ham, Divided Nation: Cultures in Chaos and a Conflicted Church.
 For a biblical and historical defense of the literal history of Genesis 1–11, consider the multi-author book, Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, edited by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury.
 See Terry Mortenson, “Philosophical Naturalism and the Age of the Earth: Are They Related?.”
 See Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It.