Skip to comments.Vanity: Genesis As Science, Chapter 1
Posted on 03/18/2012 6:38:49 PM PDT by EnglishCon
A few people asked me to write this, after a couple of comments I made on another thread. The first few chapters of Genesis are, with minimal mental gymnastics, a clear and accurate statement of science, as we understand it today.
I am not talking from any particular creed here. Though a Catholic, (and without any authority!), I am from a background of a devout Protestant and much less devout Jewish culture who is, like many people, simply looking for answers. My training was as a Biochemist, at a time when we were first starting to map the genome. So, feel free to take this with a grain of salt, or a bargeload. This is not doctrine. Not meant to persuade or compell people to my views. Heck, I am still working out my views! My faith is solid. So is, to me, the evidence.
It is simply to analyse Genesis under the same scientific method that nuclear physics is examined. I will, for clarity, be using the King James Bible, available on-line at http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/KjvGene.html, as it is the version most people both know and accept. I will be simplifying some concepts - not losing the core concept, but trying to make them accessible. And please forgive me for any formatting screw-ups, I am more used to writing and passing things on to editors!
1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4: And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Verse 3 is the core of the story here. "Let there be light." According to current cosmological theories, roughly 13.7 billion years ago, there was nothing at all. Without form and void in truth - there was no space, no time, nothing. Then that nothngness exploded. Why? We haven't got a clue. While we know it happened since the universe's background microwave radiation hum confirms that, We don't know why. We can never know why. Yet we know that the dark, formless universe exploded for no reason, creating it, and by extension us. We are told why, the word was spoken, and the universe in all it's glory was created.
6: And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7: And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8: And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Stars don't come from nothing. Nor do planets. We can see the slow, steady aggregation of gases into stars. We have pictures, again testifying to the glory of God. Stars form from clouds of hydrogen gas. The heavier elements get spun out and away from the protostar. Eventually, the star's gravitational field gets strong enough to light the star. It is another flare of light, with the sudden solar wind forcing the light gases well out and starting random aggregations of heavier elements spinning and collecting. Getting bigger while orbiting the star. Outer planets catch a lot of the gas blasted away when the star ignites. Inner planets are looking at the heavier stuff that doesn't shift much under light pressure.
9: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10: And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11: And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12: And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13: And the evening and the morning were the third day.
This is a twofer. A spinning ball of molten rock eventually cools down, though it keeps on spinning. There is water there. It can't escape, gravity is too strong. Something that hydrogen can do, water can not. It simply stays in the air as vapor, until the surface temperature cools to a level where it can condense and land. Then, of course, it finds the lowest level it can. You know the phrase "Water finds it's own level."
Our original atmosphere was totally unbreathable. That is in the rock record, not a guess. A mix of Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide and Methane, a teeny bit of sulfur, with a tiny bit of Hydrogen and a mass of water vapor thrown in. Genesis mentions the seas for a reason. All life comes from the sea. The first life to creep out of the sea and onto the shore was plants.
14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17: And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18: And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19: And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
OK, for this one I have to hit more rogue science than accepted science. I apologise for that. Roughly 3 billion years ago, after photosynthesis started, we got hit, hard. A huge blast of molten rock headed into orbit from the Pacific Basin like a homesick meteor and aggregated around our satellite. It is slightly rogue, but we know that lunar rock and Earth rock are identical. We have been there and checked. The rocks are identical.
20: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21: And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22: And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23: And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Every last living organism comes from the sea. Our blood chemistry proves it conclusively. Whether iron based or copper/magnesium based, if I take 10cc of blood from you, I can guarantee that the salt proportion is identical to the sea a couple of billion years or so ago. Again, there is no guess work involved, we have seas that have been dry for that long for comparison of the proportions. God is here clearly stating that we came from the sea. No get outs, no do overs. We even, if you want to be slightly fanciful, have a nod to dinosaurs. After all, they, or at least some of them, eventually became winged fowl.
24: And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25: And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29: And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30: And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31: And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
This is the difficult one. One that I have problems with, since evolution and this statement of the Word seem at first glance to be at odds. So I am going to repeat something. Forgive me for stretching slightly to make a point.
We don't breathe water. Yet we came from the sea - that is from both the Word itself and the evidence as we understand it. We see random action. He does not. By definition God gets no surprises, he sees the consequences of everything. As a side note, that must be boring. Never a single surprise unless you deliberately don't look. No wonder he gave us free will! (Sure, I know. Putting human motivations and limitations on the Lord is demeaning. It is also tempting.)
Still, look at the order we are given. Fish, Fowl, every other living thing third. The classic chain of evolution. Plants first and so basic that they are every living thing's meat. Without plants, we simply die. Fish to reptiles/amphibians. Reptiles to birds and mammals. Mammals to primacy under God.
This was fun to write. Difficult, as I am more a biosciences person than a physicist, but fun. If there is sufficient interest I will do the same for Genesis 2.
Once more, I want to repeat. I don't seek converts to my viewpoint. How can one do so, when their viewpoint is "This makes sense but I am guessing the mind of the unknowable here." If you firmly believe that the world was created 6000 years ago as it is, may His peace and blessing be upon you, and I apologise for wasting your time. Part of this is seeking to explain things to myself.
Yet I want to pre-emptively defend myself from some of the more common comments, as I am not a total fool. The universe, and all that is in it, works through fixed and immutable laws, as far as we are aware. Shift the numeric value of any major constant by under 1% and we are a dust of sub atomic particles. The presence of constants themselves are profound indicators of the creator. One of my professors, way back when university was a place to learn and not an indoctrination center, said the mere fact that universal constants exist is one of the strongest arguments for God.
By their works shall you know them. We are told that. By the Lord's works shall you know him. He laid out, in terms a person who has never heard of an electron or the speed of light or Planck's constant can understand, where we came from and how.
Thank you for reading. May he bless and uplift us all.
Thanks for writing this. You have put into words, far better than could I, thoughts I’d had for a number of years. The Genesis story mirrors current levels of understanding to a degree I find implausible to be accidental. God is wonderful, His creation vast; our understanding shallow at best.
Thanks for your writing!
God gave us a clue. He did it. From a strictly scientific viewpoint, tell us how hot of a temperature was created at "The Big Bang". If that did not sterilize the universe, I don't know what would. Even with all of the nutrients and organics available, life was only able to exist because God created it.
The Lord doesn’t speak to me often, thankfully. Yet someone said “Write this.”
I don’t really write to educate - I write to get paid normally. Sort of a whore with a keyboard, if you like (the image makes me giggle at least!). But sometimes, you know, you write for a better reason.
Well said. That is our only clue. The monobloc (ok, it is a degraded theory but easier to visuallize) exploded when it did for a reason. The reason was the Word.
Thank you!! My brother and I have had several discussions about this very topic and the limits on our education in the sciences holds us back a bit. (He was an art major who somehow became a cop, I have an MBA and am a banker by trade.) I took the liberty of emailing a copy of your post to him and look forward to his response.
The Lord be with you!
My thanks -
I include the art made of stone. The cathedrals, made by illiterates that are a joy to God. The farmers, who know the cycle set on day one by the Lord will lead to crops in the fullness of time. Parents, who know that they will be blessed in time.
All of them art. All of them expressions of joy.
In Genesis, God takes credit for creation and explains it in a manner suitable for a primitive people to understand. Exactly how he did it, he doesn't say. If he did say, there wouldn't be enough space on earth for all the hard disks needed to contain a precise description of creation.
It was actually one of the things that pulled me back to belief.
You know the saying about co-incidence. I found I could simply not reject this as co-incidence. There is stuff that happens, and there is stuff written a few thousand years ago that explains what we know.
Never understand why people reject God for lack of evidence when it is all around us. We live in the evidence.
A couple of things that would make your story more powerful.
First, mention the level of science that existed at time of the writing of the Bible. Since non-believers insist the Bible is made up, what scientific knowledge existed then that would have possibly caused the “writers” to think that the entire story began with a flash, that the earth was covered with water and the waters receded to form land, and that life began small, and got larger and larger until man appear. An awfully lot of lucky guesses for such an unscientific society.
And second, following the non believers idea that it was all made up, how come no other religions offers anything that remotely resembles what science today says happened? Hindus are a good example. Why does no other religions story of creation even come close the the current accepted scientific version?
The ‘writers’ of the Bible, with absolutely no science to guide them, made an incredible number of lucky guesses - or they had Somebody give them the answers.
As to your remaining conundrum concerning the time involved for Creation: Time is relative according to Einstein. The amount of time it took for these events to transpire depends greatly upon the perspective of the individual relating the events. Keep in mind what God says about his relationship with time so primitive (relative to us) people could understand: A thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years. It sounds a bit to me like He is not governed by linear time as we are.
Actually, want to add something about that gloriously infuriating book.
First time I read the Bible, I was bored. It was like porn without the visuals. “X begat Y, Y begat Z.”
Then I read it again. The second time round, I got a lot of negative commands. “Thou shalt not ....” I mean, seriously, it was worse than my mother!
Then I read it again. And again. And again. No one said I was smart.
And I noticed. It ain’t a book. It is a users manual for how to be human and live with God. I don’t know if I got some freakish magical copy that changes the text on the page, or if I got the intent - finally.
Now I read it for pleasure.
I read a very intriguing opinion the other day, in which a woman imagines that God revealed the entire evolution of the universe from the time of the Big Bang on, until the formation of the solar system and evolution of life. But the primitive people to whom God revealed the scientific history had no clue what was revealed to them. Their interpretation of what they didn’t understand became the creation story of Genesis.
Look at Genesis I:11-12 "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, ... , And the earth brought forth grass, ..."
It seems quite simple.
If you look at the timeline, it is a pretty smooth curve.
I simply cannot imagine the mind of a being to which a million years is still “Now.” Sure, could fake it, but truth rules on these threads.
>>By their works shall you know them. <<
Prepare for stoning. Rational discourse is a nono when the endgame is “am I a monkey’s uncle?”
Many of the most scientifically educated the Freepers learned this the hard way. They have joined the choir in the vestile. This FReeper is no more... (etc.)
I will utter the URL of The Site that Dare not be Spoken: http://www.darwincentral.org/
Scientific facts from scientists, many of whom are Christians, most of whom are Conservative (to their core).
A guy's talking to God. He says, “what's a million years to you?” God says, “a second.” The guy says, “what's a million bucks to you?” God says, “a penny.” The guy then says, “can I have a million bucks.” God answers, “sure, in a second.”
How could we possibly know, or even conceive, what time means to God? The ‘day’ business is just something included so that our feeble little minds would have a measurement to grasp.
I have faith in the good faith and belief of my fellow FReepers.
OK, most of them. Know what you mean - bumped noses with a few before. That I can cope with.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.