Apologetics Thursday – The Beginning of Time

Tim Chaffey writes against Open Theism:

To the open theist, God is limited by time. The Bible teaches that God created time: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1). It could only have been “the beginning” if time started at that point. Einstein’s theory of relativity also posits that time is a physical property of our universe. If there were no matter, there would be no time. Since there is matter then there is time.

This author seems to be unaware of basic Biblical scholarship on Genesis 1. The JPS translations states:

1 When God began to create heaven and earth—2 the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—3 God said, ‘Let there be light.’”

This translation mirrors the Hebrew punctuation in the Masoretic text.

The first verse is not a “first act by God” but rather a title or summary about what is to happen, or even listing pre-existing conditions. We find a parallel text in the second chapter during the second creation narrative:

Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

Both Genesis 1:1 and 2:4 serve parallel purposes. They set up what is to come. They are introductions to the stories. They are absolutely not about metaphysics and the nature of time. Even a generous reading of Genesis 1:1 has nothing to do with “time being created.” At most, the beginning could be limited to the beginning of the Earth. The angels are assumed to pre-exist these events. For Chaffey to presume his metaphysics onto the Bible (metaphysics nowhere described in the Bible) is a disservice to Biblical interpretation.

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