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Religious Studies

Christianity: beliefs about creation and evolution

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Many of the world's religions have ideas and beliefs about the origin of the universe, including people and animals. Usually these take the form of creation accounts in the sacred books of the religions concerned.

The origins of the universe

In Christianity, the creation accounts are found in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible. There are two accounts - and it's important not to confuse them.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

This account tells how God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

After creating the earth, the sky, the seas and plants, God made birds and fish on the fifth day and animals and humans on the sixth day.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

Genesis 2:4b-25

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve leaving Eden

This is a much earlier account. It describes how the Lord God first of all created a man by taking some soil from the ground and breathing life into him.

God placed the man in a garden in Eden, and made beautiful trees grow there. God said to the man:

You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do you will die that same day.

Genesis 2: 16-17

The Lord God took soil and formed the animals and birds; the man named them, but none was a suitable companion for him. The Lord God put the man into a deep sleep, and while he slept he took one of the man's ribs and formed a woman out of it.

 

Different views

There is a variety of interpretations of the biblical accounts of creation among Christians today.

Most believe that God brought the universe into being from nothing (ex nihilo); some believe that it was created from matter that already existed (ex materia).

Some Christians take the biblical accounts of creation literally, believing that they describe exactly how the universe and human beings were created.

Other Christians regard these accounts as more like parables or symbolic accounts that tell (in story form) the profound truth that God brought the universe and all that is in it into being, and sustains his creation. These Christians might look to science to help them understand how God did this.

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