Seventh-day Adventists believe that the earth was created approximately 6,000 years ago,' but without attempting to pinpoint the exact date. We regard the earth as a "little world,' a "speck of a world," and an "atom of a world." "This world is but a little atom in the vast domain over which God presides."' Besides our own planet, there exist "innumerable worlds,' "millions of worlds,' "numberless worlds," "unnumbered worlds."
Moreover, we believe that the earth came into existence by divine fiat, as stated in Genesis 1, and not by the long evolutionary process supposed by some scientists. Our view is stated thus:
The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Hebrews 11:3. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . . He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm 33:6-9."
In the creation of the earth, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. "He spake, and it was . . . ; he commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm 33:9. All things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, came into existence by the breath of His mouth.'
"The idea that many stumble over, that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence, limits the power of the Holy One of Israel." "The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God.""
However, in believing that the earth and the other worlds were created by divine fiat, Seventh-day Adventists do not teach that every orb in the stellar universe was created at the same time that the earth was made. That is, we do not maintain that all the rest of the stellar universe was formed during the six days of the creation of the earth as narrated in Genesis 1. In our thinking, the vast expanse of space now containing innumerable stars and other heavenly bodies was not void and empty until our little world was made.
In a previous article entitled "When Did Satan's Fall Occur?" " the statement was made that Lucifer's rebellion began very long before, and that his expulsion from heaven took place not long before, the earth was created. It is our belief that it was Lucifer's plan to lead the inhabitants of the many worlds to join his revolt.
Questions that God asked Job to answer indicate that other heavenly bodies were already existing when the earth was created. He said to the patriarch: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7). This mention of "morning stars" as rejoicing at the time when the earth was created, certainly implies that they were inhabited worlds existing prior to the birth of our planet.
Satan, in planning the revolt against God prior to the creation of the earth, did not think of limiting rebellion solely to the angels. He had designs also on the many worlds that God had made. Although he did not publish his purposes openly, yet Lucifer said in his heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God" (Isa. 14:13). Thus the prince of evil planned to set up a government independent of God and to exercise sway over heavenly bodies called "the stars."
Leaving His place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. He worked with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealed his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God. He began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that though laws might be necessary for the inhabitants of the worlds, angels, being more exalted, needed no such restraint, for their own wisdom was a sufficient guide?
God's government included not only the inhabitants of heaven, but of all the worlds that He had created; and Lucifer had concluded that if he could carry the angels of heaven with him in rebellion, he could carry also all the worlds?
This is part of the answer to the question, Why did God not destroy Lucifer immediately after he started his rebellion? "The inhabitants of heaven and of the worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice of God in the destruction of Satan." "
Although he was not destroyed, Satan was expelled from heaven. This expulsion occurred prior to the creation of the earth.
"Angels in heaven mourned the fate of those who had been their companions in happiness and bliss. Their loss was felt in heaven. The Father consulted His Son in regard to at once carrying out their purpose to make man to inhabit the earth."
Lucifer desired to be first in heaven. Thus he introduced sin into the universe. Entering the Garden of Eden after his expulsion from heaven, he succeeded in deceiving our first parents. Ever since, he has claimed this world?
"Like the inhabitants of all other worlds, he [man] must be subjected to the test of obedience; but he is never brought into such a position that yielding to evil becomes a matter of necessity." Until he failed to prove faithful under the test of obedience, man was happy in his Eden home, where he studied the wonderful works of God in the natural world. "God's glory in the heavens, the innumerable worlds in their orderly revolutions, 'the balancings of the clouds,' the mysteries of light and sound, of day and night,—all were open to the study of our first parents."
When Seventh-day Adventists became so widely known several decades ago for their vigorous opposition to the attempts of advocates of the theory of evolution to discredit the story of the creation of the earth as narrated in Genesis 1, we often repeated the divinely inspired statement that "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day" (Ex. 20:11; 31:17). Inasmuch as the battle against evolutionism was fought chiefly over the subject of the origin of the earth and the creatures upon it, little or nothing was said by us then concerning the age of the earth in relation to that of the rest of the universe. Hence some, even in our own ranks, have supposed the Scripture statement that "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is," means that the entire stellar heavens and "all that in them is" were created in the six days in which the earth was made.
Being a young minister at that time, I became somewhat perplexed in my study of Genesis 1 and other related Biblical passages. While I was strongly convinced that the entire material universe had come into existence by divine fiat of Creation and not by some long-drawn-out process, yet I could not believe that all the stellar universe was created in the six days when the earth was made. "Is it possible," I asked myself, "that our Creator, the immortal and eternal and omnipotent God, existed alone and in a vacuum until He created the earth approximately 6,000 years ago? Would I be mistaken if I should grant, in discussing the subject with intelligent people, that the origin of other heavenly bodies may have anteceded that of the earth by millions or more years?"
So I sat down one day and made a list of the leading Seventh-day Adventist ministers and teachers who ranked high among us then as students of the Bible, particularly those foremost in championing the doctrine of creationism against the suppositions of evolutionism. I wrote a letter to each, and set forth my perplexity and my questions. Every letter was answered, and without exception each reply made it clear that its author did not believe that the entire stellar universe was created in the six days in which our earth was made. Each writer granted that doubtless many of the heavenly bodies were brought into existence long before our own little world was created. The words "heaven" and "heavens" in the narrative of the creation of the earth were understood to refer primarily to the atmospheric heaven or air that envelops the terrestrial globe.
On one point only was any difference of opinion expressed among the authors of the letters. Some thought that the story of Creation as told in Genesis 1 was primarily concerned with the origin of the earth and not of the rest of the stellar universe. Others thought that the Creation story probably includes the question of the entire solar system to which the earth belongs, because the Genesis record speaks not only of the sun and the moon but of "the stars also" (Gen. 1:16).
Although the record of the creation of the earth mentions the sun, moon, and "the stars also," we cannot yet speak with finality concerning the age of the earth as it relates to the age of the rest of the solar system. However, the view that the entire solar system may have been created in the six-day period of the creation of the earth merits consideration. In the times when the Scriptures were penned it was universally customary to speak of the visible planets of the solar system simply as "stars" or "wandering stars." We commonly speak of them still as "evening stars" and "morning stars." Ellen G. White says that "the moon and the stars of our solar system shine by the reflected light of the sun." By the word "stars" in this passage she means the planetary orbs that, radiating no light of their own, shine by reflecting light they receive from the sun. Thus there is the possibility that the expression "the stars also" in Genesis 1:16 may refer to the planets of our solar system.
In summary, while it is true that Seventh-day Adventists stanchly maintain that the earth was created by divine fiat in a six-day period approximately 6,000 years ago, we do not contend that the whole stellar universe originated at that time. There is the possibility that the rest of our solar system was brought into existence then. However, we would not speak dogmatically on that point. Other heavenly bodies were in existence before our world was created. We would not attempt to say how much older they are than the earth, because the Scriptures do not tell us specifically when they were created. Many of them may be millions of years older than the little planet we inhabit.
1 The Desire of Ages, p. 413; Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 22, 23; The Great Controversy, pp. 10. 518, 553, 656, 659, 673; Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 342; Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 138.
2 The Desire of Ages, pp. 19, 26; Patriarchs and Prophets, P. 68
3 Christ's Object Lessons, p. 176; The Desire of Ages, p. 356.
4 Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p. 66.
5 Testimonies to Ministers, p. 324. (See also Christ's Object Lessons, p. 190.)
6 Education, p. 21; Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 51.
7 The Sanctified Life, p. 77; Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 653.
8 The Sanctified Life, p. 75.
9 Counsels to Teachers, p. 66; Education, p. 99; The Great Controversy, p. 651.
10 Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 258, 259.
11 The Ministry of Healing, pp. 414, 413.
12 Ellen G. White in Signs of the Times, March 13, 1884.
13 Education, p. 126.
14 THE MINISTRY, January, 1959, pp. 43, 44.
15 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37.
16/bid., p. 41. (See also The Great Controversy, p. 497.)
17 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 42. (See also The Great Controversy, pp. 498, 499.)
l8 The Story of Redemption, p. 19.
19 Ellen G. White in Signs of the Times, June 10, 1903, p. 2.
20 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 332.
21 Ibid., p. 51 (See also Education, p. 21.)
22 Education, p. 14; Gospel Workers, p. 50.