Table of contents
Pre History - Creation and the fall
Creation of Heaven, the Invisible World
In the beginning, before the creation of any of the visible world and of man, God created Heaven, that is, the spiritual, invisible world of the angels, out of nothing.
Angels are bodiless and immortal spirits, gifted with a mind, will and strength. God created an innumerable multitude of them. They differ among themselves according to degrees of perfection and types of service and are divided into a number of orders. The highest of these are called the seraphim, cherubim, and archangels.
All the angels were created good, so that they would love God and one another and might have from this life of love continual and great joy. God did not will to make them love Him by force, and, therefore He allowed the angels to decide for themselves whether or not they wished to love Him and live in God.One, the highest and mightiest angel whose name was Lucifer, became proud of his might and power and did not wish to love God and fulfill the will of God, but desired to become like God. He began to whisper against God, to oppose Him, and he became a dark, evil spirit — the Devil, Satan. The word "Devil" means "slanderer," and the word "Satan" means the "opposer" of God and all that is good. This evil spirit tempted and took with him many other angels who also became evil spirits and are called demons.
Then one of the highest archangels, Archangel Michael, came forth against Satan and said: "Who is equal to God? There is none like God!" There was a war in Heaven: Michael and his angels made war against Satan, and Satan and his demons made war against them.
However, evil power could not endure the angels of God, and Satan, together with his demons, fell like lightning down into the nether regions, Hades. "Hades," and "the nether regions," are names for the place of separation far from God, where the evil spirits now dwell. There they are tormented in their malice, beholding their powerlessness against God. All of them, because of their refusal to repent, have become so confirmed in evil that they can no longer be good. They strive by deceit and cunning to tempt every man, whispering false ideas and evil desires in order to bring him to damnation.
In this way evil appeared in God’s creation. By evil we mean all that is done contrary to the will of God, all that violates the will of God.
All the angels that remained faithful to God, dwelling from that time in unceasing love and joy, live with God, fulfilling the will of God.
They have been so confirmed in good and love of God that they can no longer in any way wish to do evil. Therefore are called holy angels. The word "angel" means "messenger." God sends them to make His will known to men; for this, the angels take on a visible human form.
God grants to every Christian a Guardian Angel at Baptism, an angel that invisibly guards a person during his entire earthly life and does not leave his soul even after death.
Note: This brief account of the creation of the heavenly-angelic world is based on the accounts in Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Orthodox Church.
A detailed account of the life of the angelic world was set forth by St. Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of St. Paul and first bishop of Athens, in his book, The Heavenly Hierarchy, which was written on the basis of all the places in the Holy Scriptures that speak of the angels.
Creation of the Earth, the Visible World
After the creation of Heaven, the invisible, angelic world, God created out of nothing, by His word alone, earth, that is, the material from which He gradually made our visible, physical world, the visible sky, earth and all that is in them.
God could have created the world in a single instant, but since He wished from the very beginning that this world should live and develop step by step, He created it not in an instant, but over several periods of time, which in the Bible are called "days."
These "days" of creation were not the usual days that we know, consisting of twenty-four hours. Our days depend on the sun. However, during the first three "days" of creation there was no sun yet in existence, which means that the days described in Genesis could not have been the kind of days as we understand them. The Bible was written by the Prophet Moses in the ancient Hebrew language, and in this language both "day" and a period of time are called by the same word Yom. It is impossible for us to know exactly what kind of days these were, even more so since we know that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8; Ps. 89:5).
The Holy Fathers of the Church consider the seventh "day" of the world to be continuing even at the present time, and that after the resurrection of the dead there will begin the eighth eternal day, that is, eternal future life. Thus St. John of Damascus (VIII century) writes concerning this: "The seven ages of this world are reckoned from the creation of Heaven and earth to the general conclusion and resurrection of men. For even though there is a personal ending, there is also a general, complete ending when there will be the general resurrection of men. The eighth age is the age to come."
St. Basil the Great in the fourth century wrote in his book Hexaemeron: "Therefore whether you call it a day or an age, you express one and the same idea."
Therefore, in the beginning, the matter created by God did not have any definite shape or form; it was formless and undeveloped (like fog or water) and covered with darkness, and the Spirit of God was borne upon it, imparting to it life-bearing power.
Note: The Holy Bible begins with the words: "In the beginning God created Heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).
In the beginning in Hebrew is bereshit and means "first of all" or "at the beginning of time," that is, before bereshit there was only eternity.
Created here is expressed by the Hebrew word bara, which means "created out of nothing." It is distinguished from the Hebrew word assa, which means "to make, to form, to shape out of matter." The word bara (created out of nothing) is used three times in the account of the creation of the world: 1) in the beginning — the first act of creation, 2) at the creation of "living souls" — the first animals, and 3) at the creation of man.
Strictly speaking, nothing more is said concerning Heaven, that is, it was finished in its formation. This is, as was said above, the spiritual, angelic world. Later in the Bible the Holy Scriptures speak of the heavenly firmament, called "heaven" by God, as a reminder of the higher, spiritual Heaven.
"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"
(Gen. 1:2). "Earth" here is understood to mean the original matter, still not put into form, from which the Lord God during the six "days" formed and made the visible world — the universe. This unformed matter or chaos is called the deep, as being unfathomable and unlimited space and water, as a water-like or mist-like matter.
Darkness was upon the face of the deep, that is, the entire chaotic mass was submerged in darkness, due to the complete absence of light.
And the Spirit of God was borne above the water: here began the creative work of God. By this expression "was borne" (the Hebrew word used here has the following meaning: "to embrace everything with oneself as a bird with its wings spread out embraces and warms its fledglings"), the action of the Spirit of God upon the first-created matter should be understood as the imparting to it of the living power which was necessary for its formation and development.
All three Persons of the Most-holy Trinity participated in the creation of the world equally, as the Triune God, One in essence and Indivisible. The word "God" in this place is written in the plural Elohim, that is Gods (the singular is Eloah or El— God), and the word "created" (bara) — is in the singular. In this way the original Hebrew text of the Bible, from its very first lines, points to the singular essence of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, saying as it were, "In the beginning Gods (the three Persons of the Holy Trinity) created Heaven and earth."
The Psalms also clearly speak of this: "By the Word of the Lord the Heavens were established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth" (Ps. 32:6). Here "Word" means the Son of God, "Lord" means God the Father and "the Spirit (breath) of His mouth" means God the Holy Spirit.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is plainly called "Word" in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God...all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:1-3).
It is especially important for us to know this, because the creation of the world would have been impossible if there had not first been the voluntary will of the Son of God to endure the sacrifice of the Cross for the salvation of the world. "All things were created by Him" (the Son of God) "and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist: And He is the head of the body, the Church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in Him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, whether they be things in earth or things in Heaven" (Col. 1:16-20).
The First Day of Creation
And God said, let there be light: and there was light... And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. This was the first "day" of the world. The first act of the formative creation of God was the creation of light.
"And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness... "(Gen. 1:3-5).
It may seem strange that light could appear and that day and night could follow one another from the first day of creation when the sun and other heavenly luminaries did not yet exist. This gave an excuse for the atheists of the eighteenth century (Voltaire, the encyclopedists and others) to mock the Holy Bible. These poor men did not suspect that their ignorant mockery would turn back against them.
Light, by its nature, is entirely independent of the sun (fire, electricity). Light, but not all of it, was concentrated in the heavenly luminaries only later, at the will of God.
Light is the result of the action of light waves, which is now produced primarily by the sun, but which can also be produced by other sources. If the primeval light could appear before the sun and could have been like, for example, the light of the northern lights, the result of the union of two opposing electric currents, then it is obvious that it (the northern light type of light) could have times when it began, then came to its greatest brilliance and then again began to lessen and then almost completely cease. In this manner, according to the Biblical expression, there could be days and nights before the sun appeared, and there could be evening and morning, which would serve specifically as a measure for the determining of these parts of time.
Some commentators point out that the ancient Hebrew words erev and boker — evening and morning — also mean "mixture" (confusion) and "order." St. John Chrysostom says, "(Moses) clearly called the end of the day and end of the night one day, in order to set forth a certain order and sequence in the visible (world), and so there would be no confusion."
One should always bear in mind that science has no limit to its knowledge. The more science learns, the more areas that are unknown open up before it. Therefore, science can never give its "final word." This has been proven many times already and is being proven even more so at the present time.
Until the beginning of this century, scientists in general and astronomers in particular believed in infiniteness of the universe in time and space. They admitted that some parts of the universe could change (e.g. development of stellar systems), but considered the elementary particles, which constitute matter, and the laws of physics as eternal.
This naive conception about the steady-state ‘eternity’ of the universe was rejected in the first half of the 20th century. In 1913 astronomer V.I. Slipher, in performing spectral observation of galaxies through a powerful telescope, found that all galaxies, irrespective of the direction of observation, moved away from our solar system at high speed. He also noted that this speed was proportional to the distance. In a word, Slipher found that our universe expands, or inflates as a giant balloon. We need to mention here, that galaxies are defined as multi-billion-star systems, revolving around galaxy centers by the effect of the binding gravitational field. For example, our solar system is located at the edge of a medium-size galaxy called the Milky Way. Closest to us is a galaxy called Andromeda at a distance of more than 2 million light years. The entire universe consists of billions of galaxies of various sizes and shapes.
Slipher’s discovery of expanding universe shook the world of scientists. The staggering consequences of this discovery for the traditional science became obvious to everyone. If the world is expanding, then at some moment in the past it was condensed in one point, and therefore it is not eternal and not infinite. What force set this point to motion that transformed it into this colossal universe? Many observatories around the world immediately repeated spectral observations of distant galaxies. Slipher’s conclusion was confirmed: the universe is expanding at an incredible speed. The furthest spots of the universe fly away from us at about the speed of light. Finally, it was calculated that our universe came into existence approximately 15 billion years ago, when a microscopic point blew out forcefully, emitting radiation in all directions. The opinion of modern scientists is that neither matter, nor time, nor space existed before this explosion. While cooling down, the primary radiation began to concentrate into atoms; the powers of nature, which subsequently became the laws of physics, appeared at the same time. Later atoms started to cluster into gas clouds; the gas clouds condensed into stars and stellar systems. This is the origin of the universe in a couple of words. The term for it is ‘the Big Bang.’ Is not this ‘bang’ described in the Bible when it tells us: "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Genesis 1:3).
Now it would be interesting to mention the sharp scientific disputes ignited by Slipher’s discovery. Many scientists tried to save the former theory of stability of the universe so earnestly as if they were defending an unchangeable dogma. This dispute exposed the inherent human prejudice and non-objectivity, which scientists have not less than religious fanatics. There were attempts to refute the arguments of Slipher and his adherents. But it was hard to cope with facts, because facts are stubborn. Even Einstein, a prominent scientists and founder of contemporary physics, who openly admitted the existence of God, disagreed with this new discovery about the origin of the universe for 17 years. Once he even said, "It (the expansion of the universe) irritates me... It seems senseless to accept this possibility." Note the emotionalism of these words, so unsuitable for a scientific discussion! Later, mathematician A. Friedman and scientist G. Lemetres proved it to him that the solution concerning the expansion of the universe was contained in his own formulae of the general theory of relativity. Einstein finally agreed with the fact of the expanding universe in 1930 when he personally visited the best-of-its-time observatory on Mount Wilson in California.
Scientist E. Hubble (1889-1953) later worked much in the area of measurement of galactic motion. His efforts helped to confirm and clarify the previous conclusions. Today no one disputes the fact that the universe is expanding.
Now we will discuss the method of measurement of distant luminaries. Measurement of the speed of motion is based on the principle of spectral comparison. It is known that many elements in incandescent state emit light of a certain spectral type (specific alternations of color and black lines). From an analysis of light, emitted by stars, it is possible to determine the chemical composition of these stars. When stars move toward us, then the spectral property of their emitted light shifts to the ultra-violet color, while the shift of spectral emission toward the infrared color (red shift) occurs when light bodies move away. A similar change of sound frequency can be noticed when we hear a vehicle which comes nearer and then pulls away from us: first we hear a higher, and then a lower frequency of sound. Through spectral measurements of typical stellar light emissions (e.g. sodium and hydrogen), scientists determine their speed in relation to us. It turns up that the light that comes to us from distant light systems is always characterized by red-shifted spectrum.
The theory of sudden origination of the universe out of an immensely powerful superhigh-temperature bang also found its confirmation in the following fact. In 1948 Russian scientist and US resident G. Gamov calculated that if the universe had started to exist due to an explosion, then cooled traces of this bang had to be traceable until this time as weak electromagnetic radiation, corresponding to the temperature of 3 degrees above the absolute zero. He predicted that this radiation had to be reaching us in perfectly uniform amounts from every direction. Indeed, in 1965 scientists A. Penzias and R. Wilson found the existence of background radiation, fully in concord with Gamov’s assumption. This radiation is emitted by interstellar space irrespectively of luminous celestial bodies. It is an ancient footprint of that powerful bang.
For us the believers these scientific discoveries have a great religious and philosophic meaning. First, they confirm our faith that the universe was created in time and out of nothing. They strengthen our belief that only God is omnipotent, eternal and infinite. Anything else around us is limited both in time and in space. Everything started to be due to the Creator’s Will, and the same Will may cause everything to return to non-existence where it originated from.
Second, we see that science in its long and windy way does slowly but steadily come nearer to the truth. Therefore, a believer should not keep away from science as from a hostile enemy. Its positive achievements may enrich the religious understanding. For example, materialists at the beginning of the 20th century wanted to crush religion with the help of science. But new scientific discoveries broke the very platform that the materialists rested on. It was found that matter does not exist as an independent solid substance. It is only a temporary condensed state of energy, of this mysterious force, originated somewhere beyond the boundaries of the physical universe. Bearing the former errors in mind, modern science should become more modest in its fundamental statements. May the minor human mind bow to the incomprehensible wisdom of the Maker!
The discovery by science of the composition of the atom becomes a discovery of the perfection in the creation of the world of a wise Creator. In addition, it completely changes our concept of matter. Such matter as the materialists understand it does not exist.
Contemporary science has determined that the prime basis of matter is energy, and the prime basis of energy is the energy of light. Now it becomes clear why at the beginning of the formation of matter, God created light.
In this way, the first lines of the Bible, for our generation, become the best testimony of the divine inspiration of the Holy Bible. How else could Moses have known that the creation of the world had to begin with light, when this has become the attainment of science only in modern times?
Thus the author of Genesis, Moses, by divine inspiration, discovered the mystery of the composition of matter which was unknown to anyone in those distant times. The discovery of atomic energy, "the life of the atom," in our days is merely a new proof of divine truth!
"Wondrous are Thy works O Lord, in wisdom hast Thou made them all."
The Second Day of Creation
On the second "day" of the world God created the firmament — that unfathomable space which stretches above us and surrounds the earth, that is, the heaven visible to us. The second creative command formed the firmament.
"And God said: let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day" (Gen. 1:6-8).
The firmament is the atmosphere, or the visible heaven (sky). The origin of the firmament, or of the visible heaven, can be imagined in this way. The immeasurably vast mass of primeval liquid matter separated, at the command of God, into millions of separate spheres which revolved on their axes and were carried about, each on its own orbit. The space that appeared between these spheres became the firmament; for in this space the movement of the newly created worlds was made firm by the Lord on definite and irrefutable laws of attraction, so that they neither collide nor interfere with each other in their movements. The water above the firmament is the liquid spheres which later hardened and, from the fourth day of creation, began to shine and twinkle over our heads; and the water under the firmament is our planet earth, which is stretched out beneath our feet. All this still bore the name of water, because on the second day of creation it had not yet received a firm constitution and solid form.
It is worthwhile to note the point of one of the greatest teachers of the Church, St. John of Damascus, who lived in the VIII century. In the Irmos of the third ode of the fifth tone he says, "...Who by Thy command hast fixed the earth upon the void, and hast suspended its weight by Thine irresistible might." Thus, St. John of Damascus discovered a scientific truth many centuries before the time when it became understood by science.
The Third Day of Creation
On the third "day" of the world God gathered the water which was under the heaven into one plane, and the dry land appeared; and God called the dry land earth and the collection of waters seas; and he commanded the earth to bring forth green plants, grass and trees. The earth was covered with grass and every possible kind of plant and tree. Further, the earth receives a form such that life can appear on it, even though this was still lower life, plant life, to be specific.
"And God said: let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so...And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so...and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day" (Gen: 1:9-13).
The separation of water from the dry land on the third day should not be understood to be as simple as the dividing of already prepared water, as it were, from the firmer parts of the earth. Water did not yet exist in the form and chemical composition that we know now. First, by the creative word of the Lord the formless and unordered matter of our planet was, on the third day of the world, in two forms. Water and dry land were created, and the latter immediately produced on its surface various bodies of water: rivers, lakes and seas. Second, our planet was clothed in a thin and transparent cover of atmospheric air, and gases appeared with their many combinations. Third, on the dry land itself, the subject of creative word was not only the surface of the earth with its mountains, valleys, and so forth, but also in its inner parts — various layers of earth, metals, minerals and so on. Fourth, by a special command of the Creator every possible kind of plant appeared on the earth. Finally, one must assume that on the third day of the world, the other dark and chaotic masses of heavenly bodies received their final form, in correspondence with their purpose, even though the author of Genesis speaks only about the earth. One should assume this on the basis that, on the second and fourth days, the Lord acted in the entire cosmos, and thus it could not be that the entire third day was devoted only to the earth, which is an insignificant speck in the entire make-up of the universe. One can imagine the creative work of the third day more clearly in this way. The earth was still a vast sea. Then God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so." The condensing and gradual cooling matter in some places was lifted up, in other places, it sank down. The higher places stuck up out of the water, became the dry land, and the depressions and hollows were filled with the water that poured into them and became the sea. "And God called the dry land earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called seas: and God saw that it was good." The earth still did not have that which was the purpose of its creation: there was still no life upon it, only barren, dead cliffs stared darkly upon the bodies of water. When the command for the water and dry land was fulfilled, and the necessary conditions for life were present, then, at the word of God, there was no delay in the appearance of its beginnings, in the form of plants. "And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so...and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day."
Certain scientists have found the remains of this plant life and have been stunned by its enormous size. What today would be a blade of our fern for example, in primal times was a huge tree. The threads of contemporary moss in primal times were several feet in perimeter. How could such a mighty plant life appear without the influence of the rays of the sun, which shone on the earth only after the fourth day? Scientific research here, as in many other instances, confirms the writings of Genesis as being completely undeniable, undistorted truth. Experiments were conducted with electric light for the development of plant life. One scientist (Famintsin) attained important results in this regard with the aid of strong light from a simple kerosene lantern. Thus, the given question, in light of scientific evidence, loses its force. A much more important objection in this matter should be considered, namely: in the same layers of earth in which only the first indications of organic life appeared, in which, according to Genesis, the earth brought forth only herbs and plant life, there are to be found, together with the plants, animal organisms: coral, soft-bodied and freshwater animals of the simplest forms. Even this objection is not insurmountable: the layers of the earth are not separated from each other by some kind of impenetrable wall. On the contrary, in the course of the millennia during which the earth has existed, every kind of movement and change has occurred in the positions of the layers, and for this reason they are mixed up and often one is found combined with another.
Although plant life could have developed with the primal light, still its development could not have taken place under such conditions with the direct purposefulness that is observed nowadays. While tremendous in size, it was poor in form and color. Evidently, it was in need of the correct, measured light of the present sun and stars.
The Fourth Day of Creation
On the fourth "day" of the world, at the command of God, there shone forth above the earth the heavenly luminaries, the sun, moon and stars. From that time forth they have defined the passing of time in our present days, months and years. After the formation of the earth there follows the arrangement of the heavenly luminaries.
"And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also...and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day" (Gen. 1:14-19).
The creative command: let there be lights is obviously different from the command of the Creator: let there be light, because in one place, the original creation is understood, while in the other, the creative formation of things already created. Here we must understand that this is not a new creation but rather the complete formation of the heavenly bodies.
How is one to imagine the origin of the heavenly bodies? In their internal and basic matter, the heavenly luminaries existed already before the fourth day; they were already the water above the firmament, from which innumerable spheric bodies were formed on the second day of creation. Now, on the fourth day, a number of these bodies were formed in such a way that the primal light was concentrated in them to an extreme degree and began to act powerfully. This brought about the bodies that shine, or the luminaries in the strict sense of the word, such as the sun and the stars. Some of the dark, spherical bodies remained dark, but had been made by the Creator in such a way that they reflect the light that shines on them from other bodies, these are planets which shine with borrowed or reflected light, such as the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and the other planets.
Primordial giant vegetation (and water-borne micro-organisms) began cleaning the atmosphere from carbonic gases and producing oxygen. If anyone had looked at the sky from the ground till then, he would not have seen the contours of the Sun, Moon or stars, because the Earth was all wrapped in opaque gasses. In the same way, until today sky is not visible from the surface of Venus, because thick gasses surround this planet. That is why Moses wrote that the Sun, Moon and stars appeared on the next day after plants, i.e. on the fourth day. Godless materialists in the beginning of the 20th century did not know this and mocked at the Bible’s story, which described the creation of the Sun after that of plants. In accordance with the Bible, dispersed solar light reached the surface of the Earth since the first day of the Creation; the shape of the Sun was not perceivable, though.
Due to the presence of clean oxygen in the atmosphere, more complex forms of life started to exist: fishes and birds (the fifth "day"), and, finally, beasts and humans (the sixth "day"). The modern science agrees with this sequence of origination of creatures.
Moses omitted from the Biblical story many details of the Creation of life, which would be interesting for science. We should remember that it was not the objective of his narrative to list the details, but to demonstrate the First-Source of the Universe, its Wise Maker. Moses concluded his description of the Creation by saying, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." In other words, the Creator had a definite purpose in the Creation of the world: make everything serve the good, and lead to that which is good. Until today, the Nature has retained the stamp of goodness in itself, being the evidence of the Creator’s wisdom and kindness.
The Fifth Day of Creation
On the fifth "day" of the world according to the Word of God, the water brought forth living creatures, that is, there appeared in the water shellfish, insects, reptiles and fish, and over the earth, in the firmament, birds began to fly. On the fifth day animals were created that live in the water and fly in the air.
"And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and the fowl that might fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven...and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day" (Gen. 1:20-23).
The creative command of God, of course, formed these creatures from the elements of the earth; but everywhere else, though even more so here, the formative power belongs to Him, and not to the natural elements. In the formation of animals, something new was introduced — a higher principle of life — animated, freely moving, and feeling creatures made their appearance.
In giving His blessing to multiply to the newly-created creatures, God, as it were, gave them the creative power by which they received their being, that is, He granted them the ability to reproduce from themselves new beings, each according to its kind.
A more detailed creative action of the fifth day could be imagined in the following way. The heavens were adorned with stars. On the earth gigantic plants were spread about, but still, upon the earth there were no living creatures which could enjoy the gifts of God. The necessary conditions did not yet exist as the atmosphere was full of harmful gases which could only aid the plant kingdom. The atmosphere contained so many extra additives, and especially carbon dioxide, that animal life was still impossible. The atmosphere had to be cleared of these harmful additives. The gigantic plants achieved this under the influence of the sun that shone forth on the fourth day. Carbon dioxide is one of the most necessary elements for plant life, and as the atmosphere was permeated with it, the newly-created plant life began to develop in a luxuriant and rapid manner, consuming the carbon dioxide and clearing the atmosphere of it. Enormous coal deposits are nothing other than atmospheric carbon dioxide that has been transformed by plant processes into a solid body. Thus the cleaning of the atmosphere was accomplished, and the conditions were suitable for the appearance of animal life. It did not take long for it to appear as the result of a new creative act.
"And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and the fowl that might fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." As a result of this divine command, a new creative act took place, not just a formative one, as on the previous days, but a creative act in the full sense of the word, just like the first act of creating primal matter out of nothing.
Here there was created "a moving creature" ("living soul" Septuagint); something new was introduced, which had not yet existed in the primal matter. Indeed, the writer of Genesis for the second time, uses the verb bara — "to create out of nothing." And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the water brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after its kind.
The most recent geological research explains and supplements this brief account by the writer of Genesis.
Digging into the depths of the layers of the earth, geologists reached a layer in which there first appeared the "living soul." This layer, consequently, is the cradle of animal life, and in it are found the simplest of the animal organisms.
The most ancient "living soul" known to geologists is the so-called Eo-zoon of Canada, which is found in the very lowest levels of the so-called Laurentian period. Afterwards, coral, infusoria and shellfish of various species appear. Higher in the earth’s levels there appear the gigantic, monstrous reptiles and lizards. Of these, the best known are the ichthyosaurs, hileosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterodactyls. They are all astounding because of their enormous size.
The ichthyosaurus was up to forty feet long, in the form of a lizard, with the head of a dolphin, the teeth of a crocodile and a tail equipped with a leathery, fish-like fin. The hileosaurus was up to nine feet high and was a fearsome type of lizard. The plesiosaurus had the form of a gigantic turtle with a long neck of twenty feet, a tiny snakelike head and a stinger six feet long. The pterodactyl was a sort of flying dragon, with wings like a bat, long head, crocodile teeth and claws in general like a bat, but of enormous size. Some of these monsters are still to be found nowadays, but the present ones are tiny midgets in comparison with their ancestors. Perhaps this is a sign of the decline in the productive powers of the earth.
"And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day." (Gen. 1:22-23).
The Sixth Day of Creation
On the sixth "day" of creation, according to the Word of God, the earth brought forth a living soul, and there appeared on the earth animals, that is, cattle, reptiles and beasts. In conclusion, God created man — man and woman — according to His image and likeness, that is, spiritually similar to Him.
When He had finished the creation of the entire visible world with the creation of man, God saw that all He had made was very good.
On the sixth and final day of creation, the animals that live on the earth and man were created. Just as the Lord addressed the water to bring forth fish and reptiles, so now for the bringing forth of the four-legged creatures He addressed the earth, in the same way as he addressed it for the bringing forth of plant life. One must understand it in this way: the Lord granted the earth life-producing power, and not, as certain naturalists think, that the earth, warmed by the rays of the sun brought forth the animals on its own. In all the vast realm of nature there is not the slightest hint that any one kind of animal could have come from another, for example that grass-eating animals turned into animals of prey. It is even more contrary to nature that the origin of animal life could have come from inorganic beginnings, from gases, minerals and the like. "When God said, ‘let the earth bring forth,’" says St. Basil the Great, "this does not mean that the earth brings out what was already within her; but He Who gave the command gave the earth the power to bring it forth" (Hexaemeron).
In accordance with contemporary scientific research, one can conceive of the history of the sixth day of creation in the following account. The water and air were filled with life, but a third part of the earth still remained empty — the dry land, that part which was most convenient for the life of living creatures. Now the time came for populating it.
"And God said: let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beasts of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:24-25).
Scientific research, rising higher through the various layers of the earth (after the layer containing the monsters described above, along with fish and birds), comes across a new layer in which new organisms appear — the four-legged creatures. First there appeared on the earth species of enormous four-legged creatures that are no longer to be found: dinotheres, mastodons and mammoths (a kind of elephant with a huge, awkward form); then, the more developed animals, and finally, their present forms: lions, tigers, bears, horned cattle, etc.
On seeing this gradual appearance of various kinds, science involuntarily poses the question: how did all these species come to be? Are they unchanging forms that received their beginning in the creative-formative act or did they slowly appear, one from another, and all from one primal form?
As is well-known, in the last century Darwin’s theory of evolution gained wide popularity. How does Darwin’s theory apply to the Biblical history of creation?
The writer of Genesis says that the plants and animals were created "according to their kind," that is, not one plant or animal form, but many plants and animals. This does not mean that all the forms or variations within a species that exist now had to have their beginning in the original creative act. The Hebrew word min, which is translated with the meaning "kind," has a very wide meaning that is not contained in the scientific meaning of the word "species." It is broader than this in every way, not including all the present species and variants of animals and plants; at the same time it does not deny the possibility of a gradual development of these forms.
That changes can truly occur within a species is proved by indisputable facts. Many variations of plants, such as roses, carnations, and dahlias, as well as certain animals, such as some variations of chickens and pigeons which can be seen in zoos, developed not many centuries ago. Changes can also occur under the influence of climatic conditions, different soil, food, and the like. On this basis one can assume that the number of plant and animal forms in the primal world was not as great and diversified as at present.
The writer of Genesis, describing the creation in the strict sense (bara) of the first origins of animal-organic life, does not categorically deny the possibility of the development of other forms within a species. However, this does not give any basis for the acceptance of the theory of development in all its completeness: it clearly and definitely affirms that the animal and plant organisms were directly created "according to their kinds," that is, in various definite forms.
This theory does not have any firm basis in science either, and at the present time has suffered many serious objections. We will not cite all the scientific reasoning, but will point out at least one. The well-known American scientist Cressy Morrison (former president of the New York Academy of Sciences) says:
"The miracle of genes, a phenomenon which we know testifies to the creation of everything living.
Genes are so infinitesimally small that if all the genes of all the people alive in the world today could be collected together, there would be less than a thimbleful. A thimble would not even be full! Nonetheless, these ultramicroscopic genes, and the chromosomes that accompany them, in every living cell of everything alive, are the absolute keys to all human, animal and vegetable characteristics. A thimble is a small place in which to put all the individual characteristics of five billion human beings. However, the facts are beyond question. Do these genes and cytoplasms, which may be collected in such a tiny space, contain the key to the psychology of every living creature?
This is where evolution begins! It begins in the cell which holds and carries the genes. This fact, that several million atoms contained in the ultramicroscopic gene could be the absolute key that governs life on earth, proves that there was an intention to create everything that is alive, that someone foresaw them ahead of time, and that this foresight comes from a Creative Intelligence. No other hypothesis here can help solve the riddle of existence."
On the sixth day of creation the earth was already populated in all its parts. The world of living creatures was like a magnificent tree, whose roots consisted of the most simple organisms, and whose highest branches were the highest animals. But this tree was not complete, there was not yet a blossom which could complete and adorn; there was not yet man, the king of nature. Now men too appeared.
"And God said: Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" (Gen 1:26-27).
Here for the third time a creative act (bara) occurred in the full sense, for man has in his nature something which had not been created in nature before, namely spirit, which distinguished him from all other beings. Thus the history of the creation and formation of the world was finished.
"And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day... And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it."
In the period that follows after this, that is, in the seventh "day" of the world, which, as the Holy Fathers teach, is continuing even at the present time, God ceased to create. He blessed and hallowed this "day," and called it the Sabbath, that is, "rest;" and He commanded that men also rest on the seventh day from their regular work and dedicate it to the service of God and neighbor, that is, make this day free from worldly affairs — a holy day.
Upon completing creation, God left the world to live and develop according to the plan and laws established by Him, or, as it is generally said, according to the "laws of nature." At the same time, He never ceases to care for all creation, granting each creature what is necessary for life. God’s care for the world is called "Divine Providence."
Note: The account of the creation of the world is to be found in Genesis, chaps. 1:1-31; 2:1-3.
How God Created the First People
God created man in a different way from the other creatures. Before His creation, God, in the Most-holy Trinity, confirmed His wish. He said: "Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our own likeness" (Gen 1:26).
God created man out of the dust of the earth, that is, from matter, from which all material things were created in the earthly world, and He breathed into his face the spirit of life; that is, He gave him a spirit, free, intelligent, alive, and immortal, according to His image and likeness, and man came into being with an immortal soul. By this "breath of God," or immortal soul, man is separated from all the other living creatures.
So we belong to two worlds: in body to the visible, material, earthly world, but in soul to the invisible, spiritual, heavenly world.
God gave the first man the name Adam, which means "taken from the earth." He then caused Paradise, a beautiful garden, to grow on the earth, and placed Adam to dwell there so that he would cultivate and keep it.
In Paradise all kinds of trees with the most beautiful fruit grew; among them there were two special trees: one was called the tree of life, the other the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Tasting of the fruits of the tree of life had the power to preserve man from illness and death. Concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God commanded man: "of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen 2:16-17). Then, at the command of God, Adam gave names to all the beasts and birds of the air, but he did not find among them a companion and helper for himself. God then brought a deep sleep upon Adam; when he went to sleep, He took one of his ribs and closed the place with flesh. And from the rib taken from man, God created woman. Adam called her Eve, that is, the mother of men.
God blessed the first people in Paradise, and said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28).
By having created woman from the rib of the first man, God showed us that all people come from one body and soul, that they should be one, and should love and care for one another.
Note: See Genesis, chaps. 1:27-29; 2:7-9; 2:15-25; 5:1-2.
The Life of the First People in Paradise
The earthly Paradise, the splendid garden in which God settled the first people, Adam and Eve, was in the East between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The life of people in Paradise was full of joy and bliss. Their consciences were calm, their hearts pure, their minds brilliant. They did not fear illness or death and had no need of clothing. They were completely satisfied and without need of anything. Their food was the fruit of the trees of Paradise.
Among the animals there was no enmity; the powerful ones did not touch the weak ones, they lived together and fed on grass and plants. None of them feared man; they all loved and obeyed him.
But the highest blessedness of Adam and Eve was in prayer, a deeply spiritual prayer, in pure conversation with God. God appeared to them in Paradise. He was as a father to his children and granted them all that was necessary.
God created men, just as He created the angels, so that they would love God and one another and delight in the great joy of life, in the love of God. Therefore, as for the angels, He granted them complete freedom to love Him or not to love Him. Without freedom there can be no love. Love appears in the joyful fulfillment of the wishes of the one that you love.
But since men were less perfect than the angels, the Lord did not grant them to make a choice immediately and forever: to accept or reject this love, as He did with the angels.
God began to teach people love. For this purpose He gave men one small, easy commandment: not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By fulfilling this commandment or wish of God, they could also express their love for Him. In time, passing from the simple to the more complex, they could be confirmed in love and be perfected in it. Adam and Eve obeyed God with love and joy, and in Paradise the will of God and the order of God was in everything.
Note: See Genesis, chaps. 2:10-14; 2:25.
Discussion About Man
When we say that man is made of soul and body, we express the fact that man does not consist of just dead material, matter, but also of a higher essence which gives life to this matter, or animates it. In actuality, man is made up of three parts consisting of body, soul and spirit. Apostle Paul says, "For the Word of God is quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"(Heb. 4:12).
1. BODY. The body of man was created by "God of the dust of the around" (Gen. 2:7), and therefore belongs to the earth. "For dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return" (Gen. 3:19), it was said to the first man after his fall into sin. In his physical, bodily life, man is not different from any of the other living creatures or animals in satisfying the needs of the body. The needs of the body are various, but in general they all come down to the satisfaction of two basic instincts: 1) the instinct of self-preservation and 2) the instinct of continuing the race.
Both of these instincts were placed by the Creator in the bodily nature of every living creature with a completely understandable and reasonable goal: that they not perish and be destroyed without a trace.
For dealing with the external world, the body of man is equipped with five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, without which man would be completely helpless in the world. This whole apparatus of the human body is extraordinarily complex and most wisely put together, but by itself would be merely a dead machine without motion if the soul did not bring it to life.
2. SOUL. The soul was given by God as the life-giving principle in order to govern the body. In other words, the soul is the life force of man and of every living being; the scientists call it just this: vital life strength.
The animals also have a soul, but it was brought forth from the earth together with the body. "And God said: let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life...great whales, and every living creature that moveth...cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth...after his kind: and it was so" (Gen. 1:20-24).
Only of man is it said that, after the creation of his body from the dust of the earth, the Lord "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). This "breath of life" is the highest function in man, his spirit, by which he is immeasurably higher than all other living beings. Therefore, although the soul of man is in many ways similar to that of animals, still, in its higher part, it incomparably surpasses the souls of animals, thanks to its being joined with the spirit which is from God. The soul of man is the link between the body and spirit, being, as it were, a bridge from the body to the spirit.
All the actions, or more precisely, "movements" of the soul, are so varied and complex, so interconnected, so changeable, and often so difficult to pinpoint, like lightning, that for convenience in distinguishing them, it is acceptable to divide them into three groups: thoughts, feelings and desires. These movements of the soul serve as the subject of the study of the science called psychology.
1. The organ of the body which helps the soul perform mental activity, that is, thought and intellectual work, is the brain.
2. The central organ of feeling is generally considered to be the heart. It is the measure of what is pleasing and not pleasing to us. The heart is naturally considered the center of the life of man, a center in which all that enters the soul from outside is contained, and from which proceeds all that is manifested by the soul to the outside.
3. Man’s desires are controlled by the will, which does not have a physical organ in our body, but for its fulfillment the members of our body are set apart, brought into action by the help of muscles and nerves.
The results of the activity of our mind and feeling, given birth by the heart, manifest one or another kind of influence on the will, and our body carries out one or another action or movement.
In this way, the soul and body are closely bound to one another. The body, with the help of the organs of external senses, relates one or another impression to the soul, and the soul, relying on this impression, in one way or another, governs the body and directs its activity. Because of this bond between body and soul this life is often called by a general term: "psychosomatic life," However, it is still necessary to distinguish between bodily life as being for the satisfaction of the needs of the body, and the life of the soul for the satisfaction of the needs of the soul.
What life of the body consists of has already been discussed. It is in satisfying two major instincts: the instinct of self-preservation and the instinct of preserving the species.
The life of the soul consists in satisfying the needs of the mind, feelings, and will; the soul wishes to acquire knowledge, and to experience one kind of feeling or another.
By the grace of the Holy Spirit the soul in us aquires the following characteristics: 1) fear of God, 2) conscience and 3) thirst for God.
1. Fear of God. This is, of course, not fear in our usual human understanding of the word. This is reverent trembling before the might of God, inextricably tied with unchanging faith in the truth of the existence of God, in the actuality of the existence of God as our Creator, Provider, Saviour, and giver of rewards. All peoples, no matter what level of development they may have had, all had faith in God. Even the ancient writer Cicero, two thousand years before our time, said: "There is not a single people that is so coarse and wild that it has no faith in God, even though it may not know His nature." "From the time," says the scientist Hettinger, "that America and Australia were discovered by Europeans and a multitude of new peoples entered into the history of the world, still his (Cicero’s) words remain unshaken, and have become even more indubitable and more obvious than before. Thus, as many centuries as there are that history can count, so many proofs there are of this truth,"
2. Conscience. The second way in which the Divinely inspired soul is made known in man is conscience. Conscience tells a man what is right and what is not right, what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing, what he should and what he should not do. It not only tells, but also compels a man to fulfill what it has said, and rewards him with consolation when it is fulfilled or punishes him with pangs of conscience when it is not. Conscience is our internal judge, the guardian of the law of God. It was not in vain that people have called the conscience the "voice of God" in the soul of man.
3. Thirst for God. The third manifestation of the Divinely inspired soul in man is very aptly called "thirst for God" by Bishop Theophan the Recluse. It is inherent in the nature of our soul to seek God. Our soul cannot be satisfied with anything created and earthly. No matter how many and how varied the earthly goods we might have, still we long for something more. This eternal human dissatisfaction, this constant insatiableness, this truly unquenchable thirst demonstrates that our soul possesses a striving for something higher than all that surrounds it in earthly life, for something ideal, as it is often said. Since nothing earthly can quench this thirst in man, the soul of man is restless, not finding any rest for itself until it finds complete satisfaction in God, with Whom the human soul is always striving consciously or unconsciously, to have living communion.
Such are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in man, which must be the guiding principles in the life of every man: to live in communion with God and to live according to the will of God; to live according to these principles means to fulfill one’s purpose on the earth and to inherit eternal life.
The Fall into Sin
The Devil was jealous of the blessedness in Paradise of the first people and he thought to deprive them of life in Paradise. For this purpose he entered into the serpent and hid in the branches of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Eve passed by, the Devil whispered to her to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree. With cunning, he asked Eve, "Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?"
Eve answered the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’"
The Devil lied in order to seduce Eve. He said, "Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
The tempting words of the Devil through the serpent acted upon Eve. She looked at the tree and saw that the tree was pleasant to the eyes, good for food, and gave knowledge; and she wanted to know good and evil. She took of the fruit from the forbidden tree and ate. Then she gave it to her husband, and he ate.
Man gave in to the temptation of the Devil and violated the commandment or will of God — he sinned, fell into sin. This is how man’s fall into sin came about.
This first sin of Adam and Eve, or fall of man into sin, is called ancestral or original sin, for it is specifically this sin which is the beginning of all the other sins in man. The habit, or inclination to sin, passed on to all mankind.
Note: See Genesis, chap. 3:1-6.
The Results of the Fall into Sin and the Promise of a Saviour.
When the first people sinned, they became ashamed and afraid, as it happens with all people when they act foolishly. They immediately realized that they were naked. In order to cover their nakedness, they sewed for themselves clothes from the leaves of the fig tree, in the form of wide belts. Instead of receiving the perfection, equal to God’s, that they had wanted, the opposite occurred: their minds were darkened, their consciences began to torment them, and they lost peace of mind. All this occurred because they knew good and evil, contrary to the will of God, that is, by sin.
Sin changed men so much that when they heard the voice of God in Paradise, in fear and shame they hid among the trees, immediately forgetting that no one can hide from God Who knows everything and is everywhere present. Thus, every sin separates men from God. God, in His compassion, began to call them to repentance, that is, for men to realize their sin, admit it before the Lord, and ask for forgiveness.
The Lord asked, "Adam, where art thou?"
Adam answered, "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
God again asked, "Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?"
Adam said, "The woman that Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." So Adam began to pass the blame onto Eve and even to God Himself, Who gave him the woman.
And the Lord said to Eve, "What is this that thou hast done?"
Eve in place of repentance answered, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat."
Then the Lord proclaimed the results of the sin committed by them.
To Eve God said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shall bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband" (that is, you must be in obedience to him).
To Adam He said, [Because thou] "hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake...thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee...in the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread" (that is, you will earn your food by heavy labor), "till thou return unto the ground" (that is, until you die); "for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:16-19).
To the Devil, who concealed himself in the serpent, and was most responsible for man’s sin, He said, "Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou..." and He said that between him and man there would be a struggle, in which men will be the victors, specifically: "The seed of the woman shall crush thy head, and thou shalt strike at his heel" (Cf. Gen 3:15), that is, from woman there will come forth an offspring — the Saviour of the world, Who will be born of a virgin, will conquer the Devil and save man, but for this, He Himself must suffer.
This promise of God concerning the coming of the Saviour was received by men with faith and joy, because it gave them great consolation. In order that men would not forget this promise of God, God taught them to offer sacrifices. For this He commanded them to sacrifice a bull, a lamb or a goat, and to burn them with prayer for the forgiveness of sins and with faith in the future Saviour. Such a sacrifice was a prefiguration of the Saviour, Who had to suffer and pour out His blood for our sins, that is, by His all pure blood to wash our souls from sin and make them clean, holy and once more worthy of Paradise.
Here, in Paradise, the first offering for sin was offered; God made Adam and Eve coats of animal skins and clothed them. However, since people had become sinful, they could no longer live in Paradise, and the Lord expelled them. The Lord placed at the entrance to Paradise an angel-cherubim with a fiery sword in order to guard the way to the tree of life.
The ancestral sin of Adam and Eve, with all its consequences, was passed on through natural birth to all their offspring, to all mankind, to all of us. This is why we are born already sinful and are under all the consequences of sin: sorrow, illness, and death.
Thus, the consequences of the fall into sin turned out to be enormous and heavy. People were deprived of the blessed life of Paradise. The world, darkened by sin, was changed. The earth from that time began to produce a harvest only with much labor; in the fields, instead of good fruits, weeds began to grow; animals began to fear man, to become wild, and seek prey. Illness, suffering, and death appeared. Most importantly, people, through their sinfulness, lost the very close and direct communion with God. He no longer appeared to them visibly, as in Paradise — man’s prayer became imperfect.
Note: See Genesis, chap. 3:7-24.
(from: The Law of God by Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)