"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This opening passage of the Bible speaks volumes, laying for us a foundation for the importance of Genesis. Herein is the bedrock of faith. Without this bedrock, we would have a house without a foundation, a form of religion without substance. "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psa. 11:3) Make no mistake. Humanists know how important Genesis is to the faith of the child of God. This is exactly why they attack the first eleven chapters in particular. If they can destroy our foundation for our Creator (e.g., evolutionism), and our foundation for who we are (made in God's image), then our whole worldview structure collapses beneath us.
Consider where we are today. Can anyone deny the breakdown of morality in modern culture? 2 Timothy 3:1-5 reads almost like a news headline: "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." These are, indeed, difficult days marked by the very attitudes about which Paul wrote. The perverse generation in which he lived (Phil. 2:15) has become ours.
The question is why is it this way? Modern culture often bemoans our moral breakdown, but fails to pursue the answer as to why it is this way. It's not about how much money is poured into the problem. It's not about whether democrats or republicans are in political power. It's about God, and it's about man's perception of being in God's image. There can be no doubt that there is a correlation between the breakdown of the morality and the loss of God in modern society (cf. Rom. 1:18-32), for how we think about God also reveals how we will be thinking about ourselves. If we lose sight of the fact that God created and that we are creatures in His image (and therefore accountable to Him), we will not be able to properly understand what we are supposed to be living for.
Thomas Reeves, in his book The Empty Church, made the following point:
A large body of evidence, from public opinion polls to election returns, show that the American people are deeply concerned about the quality of life in this country. Faced with dramatic increases in crime, violence, drug use, pornography, divorce, illegitimate births, abortion, child poverty, and teen suicides, along with enormous declines in academic standards, public taste, and basic civility, millions have concluded that there is something seriously wrong. We seem to be dying from within of a malady that has affected our moral sensibility and seems to be rushing us toward anarchy (p. 3).
He further notes:
The nation's condition is ironic, of course, for with our great wealth, our enormous commitment to higher education, our dramatic expansion of individual rights, and our status as world leader after the end of the Cold War, something like a golden age might have been expected for the United States. If money, education, democracy, and power are unable to produce peace, goodness, enlightenment, and joy, what else can? (p. 4).
One would indeed think that the United States is in a position to usher in a new golden age. But here we are fighting terrorism, dealing with the effects of violence and crime, aborting thousands of innocent babies every day, debating homosexual marriages, and the list goes on. Money and power have solved nothing. Is this all a coincidence? Hardly.
Reeves continues with the following statistics (pp. 6-8):
Between 1960 and 1990, when the population increased 41 percent, there was a 560 percent increase in violent crime, a more than 400 percent increase in illegitimate births, a more than 200 percent rise in the teenage suicide rate, and a nearly 200 percent rise in divorce. The percentage of children living in single-parent homes had more than tripled during that period, and the fastest-growing segment of the criminal population was the nation's children.
In 1995, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the birth rate for unmarried women had increased more than 50 percent between 1980 and 1992.
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August 1994 showed that only 50.8 percent of American children lived in a traditional nuclear family. ... According to one study, some 60 percent of the nation's rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of long-term prisoners came from homes where the father was absent.
All of this speaks, not only to our horrific moral problems, but to an even greater spiritual problem. Children are growing up, not only without their physical fathers, but without the heavenly Father; and the restraints are gone. People are doing what is right in their own eyes. While many would like to "fix" our moral woes without any appeal to God, this will prove to be impossible. Trying to fix the problem without God will leave us wallowing in a subjective sea of uncertainty. Without God, there is no "fix." And significantly, this is exactly one of the major points of Genesis 1-11. We can't fix the problem of sin without God.
Thus there is an answer, and it is found in the first chapter of the Bible. There is a direct relationship between our knowledge of God and the moral direction of culture. In this respect, then, Genesis matters because it informs on two vital issues: who God is, and who we are. Toss out Genesis, and we immediately lose the most important battles of our cultural war. It's all about God and mankind's relationship to Him. How can it get any more basic than that?
Reeves, Thomas C. The Empty Church. New York, NY: Touchstone; Simon and Schuster, 1996.
(Doy Moyer preaches regularly for the church in Cork, FL.
He is a professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL.
He has his own web site located at http://studywell.org.
You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)