The original question was:
Recently I heard an evangelical pastor preach a message on Genesis, where he told us that the first verse assumes the existence of God. Is this correct?
Answer John Mackay and Diane Eager
The first verse of Genesis makes the straightforward statement that: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) The rest of the chapter continues this narrative, describing what God did, and when, and surprisingly almost never why. The text is an easy read, which is proved by the fact that we have never found anyone who can’t tell us what Genesis says after they have read it, but we can find many who refuse to believe it!
So does the first verse assume or presuppose that God exists? It does boldly state that God did make the heavens and the earth. It never argues philosophically that a god or creator must exist, but it does assert God’s existence, which in any literature or debate is simply not the same as an assumption. Readers may choose to believe or disbelieve what is stated, or make their own assumptions about it, but that makes no difference to what Genesis actually says.
Assumptions are made by people, not by texts. Unless the author has written that he is stating an assumption the observation is that Genesis 1 is a dogmatic narrative about history that starts with a revealed fact – the Creator God does exist!
To say that Genesis “assumes the existence of God” is as foolish as reading a report by the famous explorer Captain James Cook about what he had done, and saying this narrative assumes Captain Cook exists. Using terms like “assumes the existence of God” or ‘presupposes God’ actually derives from liberal-minded theologians and is designed to cast doubt on the authority of Scripture.
We need to remember that the central theme of Genesis is that the ultimate author is God Himself. It is not theory. It is not Moses’ opinion. In fact, it could not even have been a conclusion of the first man Adam who was only there from the sixth day on. Moses had this reinforced when God personally wrote down the Ten Commandments and gave them too Moses. They contained one major dogmatic statement about history – God boldly stated that He and he alone had made the heavens and the earth in just six days. (Exodus 20:11)
Central to the Bible is the amazing claim via the Apostle Paul that all Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) This is also affirmed by the Apostle Peter, referring to the writings of the prophets: “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Peter 1:202-21)
So, we recommend that claims such as ‘Genesis assumes’, Genesis presupposes, etc. have no place in Bible-based preaching.
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