Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Fundamental Evolution
Vanity | Forscher

Posted on 09/01/2008 12:21:56 PM PDT by Forscher

Fundamental Evolution: a Biologist reads Genesis

Everybody should read the Bible. Several times. When I was a child, I had to: my mother insisted. So I read. But soon I became so entangled with who begat unpronounceable who, I lost interest. For a time I struggled with seemingly endless tales of pillage, rape, massacre, genocide, and tedious ritual, but eventually I put the book on the shelf, and there it remained for thirty years. The Jehovah's Witnesses drove me back to scripture. My wife and I were living in the Florida Keys. Every so often a group of earnest ladies would appear at the door and exhort us in the name of the Lord. My wife said I should tell them our souls already were saved and shut the door, and for a time I did. But to see them standing on an island almost entirely composed of fossil coral while vociferously denying Evolution tempted me to argue. So as not to appear ignorant, I got the King James version off the shelf and re-read it. I was older, and more patient. Apparently human behavior hasn't changed much in three thousand years. Weapons are different. People aren't. This time I was interested. When the Lord’s self-appointed Witnesses returned, I was loaded for bear. For one thing, I had discovered there is quite a lot of agreement between scientific theory and Genesis, much more than I’d expected. Allowing for technical terms not yet invented in King James's time - let alone three thousand years ago - the First Day sounds a lot like Alpher and Gamow‘s “Big Bang”. Except for an extended period of darkness before any stars were assembled, “...darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2),the universe did begin with light, “And God said, Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3.) In the initial hot plasma, there was lots of light, many times brighter than the sun. Whether or not God said, “Let there be light,” something touched it off. Just a question Science does not yet address. The framers of Genesis had no distinctive terms for gasses and fluids, much less hydrogen. The universe is mostly hydrogen, which means “Water-maker.” “Waters” being “Gathered together in one place” (Gen. 1:9) is remarkably close to current theories of star-formation by the collapse of interstellar gas clouds. The appearance of “Dry land”(Gen. 1:9) plausibly describes the condensing of a dawn earth from the dust of solar evolution, or proto-continents rising from a primal sea. It is as if somebody told those old prophets what actually happened, and they passed the story on within the limits of their understanding. They did think the sun and moon were created after the earth. That was a bit off the mark. But the original “Light” didn't come from the sun. They got that right: our solar system is a relatively recent event. Not bad, when you consider they had no notion of the vast Cosmos, or of the earth a tiny sphere drifting in it. Gen. 1:14 through 1:18, followed by 1:13, need only be placed between Gen. 1:8 2 and 1:9, and, without changing a word, the problem is resolved. The creation of the whole universe in six days doesn't work if we are talking about local time. Theologians have quibbled that God's “Day” might be longer than ours, but that's a bit thin. Moreover, it's unnecessary, if Einstein's Special Relativity theory applies to the expanding universe. The farther away any celestial object is, the faster it has been flying away from “Here” ever since the “Big Bang.” At the edge of visibility, astronomers detect objects receding at over 95% of the speed of light. Special Relativity suggests that time there passes about a third as fast as here. If, still farther away, Something is receding at light's speed, its time is standing still. Theologians agree that God must “Be everywhere.” Doubtless that includes the farthest Cosmos, where, presumably, Something still is hurtling away from us at the speed of light. According to Special Relativity, that Something has not aged since Creation's primal bang. The mean age of the universe could approach zero. Or, in God's universal time, “Now” could be the evening of the seventh day. Think about what the authors of the Bible had to work with: to them, the sun, moon, and stars were simply lights in the sky. The earth looked flat. The path of the setting sun was a mystery. They had no notion of the actual structure of the Cosmos, or the solar system, or the earth. Yet nowhere in Genesis is it stated that the earth is flat, or that the sun goes around it. Here and there in the Bible there are inconsistencies and improbable tales, but somehow its authors avoided the gross cosmological errors, common to other creation stories, that would totally discredit them. Moreover, the Old Testament is remarkably free of the devils, djinns, afreets, and spirits that festoon Middle Eastern beliefs. For hundreds of years, scriptural passages were passed from generation to generation by word-of-mouth. When finally they were written down, manuscripts were painfully copied and re-copied by hand for hundreds of years more. Languages and meanings of words changed. Inevitably, scribes made mistakes and rewrote passages to match their understanding and beliefs. We know this happened because many old manuscripts with errors and alterations survive. It is a wonder there are not more errors. The parallels between the events described in Genesis and modern scientific theory do look too good to be coincidental. Perhaps most significant: there was a Beginning. That was not always obvious to modern astronomers. Steady-state hypotheses of an eternal universe prevailed until after Edwin Hubble’s observation that the Cosmos is expanding. “Steady state” collapsed for good in 1964, with the accidental discovery by Penzias and Wilson of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (leftover glow from the “Big Bang”), predicted by Georg Gamow years before. And there was an extended period of “Darkness” before the stars began to shine. 3 Look at the parallels:

“In the beginning...” (Gen. 1:1.) - The Cosmos did have a Beginning, only confirmed in 1964, when Hoyle’s “Steady state” hypothesis became indefensible.

“... and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” (Gen. 1:2.) - There was a “Darkness” before the first stars condensed from clouds of hydrogen gas in the cooling Cosmos.

“And God said, Let there be light...” (Gen 1:3.) - The initial “Light” did not come from the sun, which condensed from clouds of primal gas and dust much later.

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (Gen. 1:6.) - The initially homogeneous universe grew clumpy: increasingly dense gas clouds became separated by relatively empty space. The words are different: the meaning is too close for comfort.

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear...” (Gen. 1:9.) - The sun and a lifeless earth condensed from swirling clouds of gas and dust, long after the initial “Big Bang.” They did not just pop into being, but were “Gathered together” from scattered materials. The words differ, but Cosmology and Genesis agree.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit...” (Gen. 1:11.) “And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit...” (Gen. 1:12.) - Land plants came before land animals, and were not created directly: the earth brought them forth. Subtle point, that....

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life...”(Gen. 1:20.) - Animal life began in the sea: the waters brought it forth. Plant life too, but, since it’s mostly microscopic, we had to invent microscopes to find out about that. A lot of those “plants” also are “Moving creatures.” Again, no conflict with Science. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind...”(Gen. 1:24.) - Land animals came after sea animals and land plants: again, the earth brought them forth: God did not simply will them into existence. There is no conflict with Science. Evolution is just the nuts and bolts of Creation. 4

“And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (Gen. 1:26.) - Man and woman are created last: the fossil record tells us that Homo sapiens was among the most recent of species to evolve.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground...” (Gen. 2:7.) - Human flesh is made of the common elements of earth, a fact not necessarily evident to tribal herdsmen. Genesis got it right.

“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden...”(Gen. 2:8.) - Located somewhere east of Israel, in what we now call the “Fertile Crescent," where agriculture began. Human occupation and climate change have reduced much of the area to desert, but it once supported many easily domesticated plants and animals.

“And they both were naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”(Gen. 2:25.) - For a time, humans were like other animals: naked, unthinking, unaware of Good and Evil. A powerful evolutionary parable....

That is a most remarkable series of bullseyes. The parallels between science and scripture do require more explaining than the differences. Especially interesting is the location of the Garden of Eden in what is called “The Fertile Crescent.” The Fertile Crescent (much of which human occupation has helped make a desert) once harbored a unique collection of easily domesticated plants and animals. There, agriculture got a running start, so civilizations developed faster than those in many other parts of the world. From the Fertile Crescent, domesticated plants, animals, and agricultural methods could spread thousands of miles at the same approximate latitude, untroubled by changes in seasonal cycles. Genesis 3, the most powerful parable in the Bible, deals with the consequences of humankind's growing intelligence. Eden is not just a place: Eden is a stage in the evolution of mind. “Adam and Eve” were like the other animals until they ate the “Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” After that, God kicked them off the welfare roll and they had to go to work. Oppressed by foresight, “Adam” henceforth would have to earn his bread in the sweat of his face. “Eve” would have so much trouble getting her children’s oversized skulls though her pelvis she would bear them in travail: there was an article about that in Scientific American not long ago. All that trouble was a consequence of the swelling human brain, and of the growing knowledge it engendered. Adam's rib? Genesis 3:21-22 tells us God made Eve out of one of Adam's ribs. Supposedly He made Adam out of dust, complete with 5

genitalia, but only later perceived that a woman was needed. Then He took a rib out of Adam (with anaesthetic) to make Eve. Are we to believe the Lord was playing it by ear? The Engineer of the Universe is not so incompetent. It was not until the Middle Ages that perceptive individuals noticed that men and women both have twelve pairs of ribs. Instant consternation! But the “Adam's rib” story is an improbable biblical embarrassment that should be credited to some unidentified tribal shaman telling stories by a campfire. It doesn't even appear in Genesis 1 or 2. Similarly, Genesis 6:2 tells us “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” Genesis 6:4 continues, “....when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them...!” Bouncing baby boys, who would become “Mighty men of renown!” God had grandchildren? The engaging picture of God’s horny sons pouncing on lucky shepherd girls needs explaining, perhaps by the same tribal shaman, for the Gospels tell us that Jesus was God's only son. There are stories that grew in the telling. For example, there was at least one humongous Flood. Charles Leonard Wooley dug up the evidence while excavating Ur. Under the layers of Ur’s potsherds he hit a stratum of clay almost ten feet thick. Only a very impressive flood could have deposited it. Under the clay were the primitive potsherds of the pre-flood residents, presumably Noah’s neighbors. “Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered” (Gen. 1:20) says the Bible. Fifteen cubits is about twenty-four feet, which is a respectable flood, but it didn’t even cover “...all the high hills...” (Gen. 1:19) around Ur. Wooley dug a shaft into one of them. At the level of the clay, he found the pre-flood primitive potsherds right under the lowest levels of Ur, with no clay deposit between. Twenty-four feet of water wouldn’t get the Ark up on the “Mountains of Ararat,” either. There is geological evidence for several floods in the Mideast, floods that would have seemed to the inhabitants to cover the whole earth. There is no geological evidence for a universal flood. In clay-tablet libraries of Babylon and Nineveh are two flood stories about legendary kings of Ur. The oldest tells of Atrahasis, warned by a god that another god planned to destroy all mankind by a flood. Atrahasis is instructed to build a ship large enough for his family and animals. According to the legend, the other god was annoyed because noisy people were interfering with his sleep! This story apparently morphed into the Gilgamesh legend, in which Utnapishtim is warned by a god that another god would drown all mankind for their sins. Utnapishtim, too, is instructed to build a ship large enough for his family and numerous animals. The yarn is too similar to Noah’s story to be a coincidence. Abraham would have


heard these stories while growing up in Ur. When he left “Ur of the Chaldees” (Gen. 11:31), he would have taken the stories with him. Inevitably, his descendants adopted them and modified them. Another story that grew in the telling is of the Tower of Babel. Ur and Babylon built impressive staged towers called “Ziggurats” of burnt brick, with “Slime” (tar) for mortar. By our standards, they weren’t very high, but they were big. Babylon conquered Judea and enslaved the Jews for fifty-odd years, probably boasting to them that these towers would reach heaven. Having no reason to love the Babylonians, the Jews would have told uncomplimentary stories about them and their towers. But you can’t build a tower to heaven. You can’t even get there with a spaceship. The ancient Jews, and their Babylonian captors, not understanding the structure of the Cosmos, didn’t know that. God would not have been concerned. Genesis 11 begins “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” But Genesis 10 tells us in three places (Gen. 10:5, Gen. 10:20, Gen. 10:31) that Noah’s descendants went their separate ways “After their tongues,” i.e. their languages. Among them was Nimrod, who founded Babel (Gen. 10:10), so they already were speaking different languages. Languages evolve. So do stories. Of course, nowhere in the text does the Old Testament claim to be the inerrant word of God. That is the interpretation of clerics and theologians with an axe to grind. God does not have a by-line. In places (Ezekiel and Jeremiah, for example) we know the authors, but much of the text is without attribute. It is astonishing that Genesis (not its medieval interpretation) avoids most of the preposterous errors common to other creation stories, not that some improbable yarns were included. As history, Genesis 2 doesn't work. It doesn't even agree with Genesis 1: the order of events is reversed. And by any rational standard the “Original Sin" notion of Genesis 3 puts God in rather a poor light: until after the first bite of “Apple,” the Primal Couple could not have known good and evil, so they could not have sinned. But Genesis 3 does not mention sin: it describes consequences, the awesome consequences of the evolving human mind. That is a very sophisticated concept. Nor does it say Eve was tempted by the Devil: it says she was tempted by a snake. That sounds like a leftover bit of primitive animism. Sin is not mentioned until Genesis 4:7, when God reproves Cain. Satan is not mentioned anywhere in Genesis, nor in Exodus, for that matter. “Scripture,” I told the Lord's indefatigable Witnesses, “Speaks in parables. Genesis is evolution in outline.” But I couldn't get through to them. They had come to talk, not to listen. Once, in the Costa Rican jungle, I watched a band of monkeys indolently moving along a river bank, with much the air of people on a picnic. In the serene tropical forest, they were as much at ease,

7 and as confident. In that peaceful place, where lost-soul cries of the tinamou bewail the passing of the Mesozoic, it came to me that no monkey ever suffers more than a moment's anxiety or regret. Hungry, they eat the fruit of tree and vine without worrying about next day's fruit. If there is no fruit, they die without understanding why. To each of them, predation always happens to someone else. They have no notion of time and death, for time and death are concepts, and monkeys have no concepts. The world shines as bright in their eyes as in yours and mine, but, until a predator appears, they see nothing in it to threaten them. That is Eden. But humans who hoe their gardens by the river are not in Eden, nor can they see it around them. They must worry about their next meal. They must build a house, hew out a canoe, grub, plant, and harvest the long day through: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Gen. 4:19.) And in their hearts they know, beyond all doubt, that one day they must die: “...dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 4:19.) They have the terrible gift of foresight: to them Eden is forever lost. Such is the bitter fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Knowledge is a real tree, composed of thoughts and concepts instead of wood. Rooted in the first glimmerings of human intelligence, its four-dimensional branches have grown and spread through space and time with the evolution of our species. You and I are favored to live somewhere near the crown of it: how well we understand our position may determine its future growth. And the Tree of Life? You will find its diagram in almost any elementary textbook of biology. It, too, is a real tree, growing and spreading through spacetime with the evolution of life on earth. It has millions of branches, some leading to living plants and animals, others to extinction. One branch leads to you and me. Its roots are in Eden: it behooves us not to cut it down. In summary: there is little inconsistency between Science and what the Bible actually says. The problem is - and always has been - between Science and what opinionated, dogmatic people want to believe the Bible says. There is nothing new about that: the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for pointing out that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the solar system. Assorted sects angrily proclaimed the earth to be flat, right into the 20th Century. Actually, the Bible doesn’t say anything about these matters. Similarly, opinionated, dogmatic people proclaim that Science justifies their atheism, denying the possibility of God. But Science doesn’t say anything about God. Science deals with how the objective world works. Period. Theology attempts to deal with the far more difficult problem of subjective being, soul, beyond the reach of science because it is directly observable only in one’s self.


Science, honestly practiced, is self-correcting. If the earth really is only six thousand years old, eventually scientists will figure it out. At present, the evidence is massive for an ancient and evolving earth. People who refuse to understand that protest the teaching of evolutionary theory because they believe it refutes the Bible. It doesn’t. As the massive evidence for Evolution continues to pile up, they only make themselves look more and more foolish. They also obscure the remarkable parallels between Genesis and cosmological and evolutionary theory. That does serious damage to the teaching of both science and important moral lessons of scripture. They defeat their own purpose. Theology proposes an explanation of how the universe began in the first place. And, considering the number of constants that had to be just right for this universe to exist at all, it does look designed. Science does not, and should not, address the question of the nature or existence of the Designer. Nor should theologians assume the Designer to be so incompetent that He needs to monkey with His Design continually to make it work. The subtle workings of Evolution are so complex that we are only just beginning to understand them. They are an intelligent system, so intelligently designed they have worked from the Beginning to produce our Universe, our World, Ourselves.

TOPICS: Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: crevo; evolution; parallelsingenesis; religion; theisticevolution
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-32 last
To: whattajoke

The TOE has nothing to do with the origins of life. Nothing at all. It doesn’t “beg” any such thing. One could very easily argue that astronomy and physics “beg” the origin of life a heck of lot more than the TOE. <<

Evolution AKA Developmental Biology does not depend on the origin of first life... but it would be a rare person who has studied Evolution and not wondered about the origin of first life.

21 posted on 09/01/2008 4:39:00 PM PDT by gondramB (Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: gondramB
but it would be a rare person who has studied [insert anything at all] and not wondered about the origin of first life.

I agree - and certainly agree biologists have all pondered this question. They just are comfortable with, "I don't know," whereas others are not.
22 posted on 09/01/2008 5:40:46 PM PDT by whattajoke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

The genome hardly accounts for the origins as described by the Big Bang, but until one comes to understand a framework of truth, even this will be veiled from their eyes.

23 posted on 09/01/2008 6:12:05 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Cvengr
The genome hardly accounts for the origins as described by the Big Bang, but until one comes to understand a framework of truth, even this will be veiled from their eyes.

Sorry, you are wrong again! That's the third time in a row.

The big bang has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. None of the origin ideas have anything to do with the theory of evolution.

(Unless you're doing creation "science," whereby evolution is any science that creationists disagree with.)

24 posted on 09/01/2008 6:44:09 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman; Cvengr
Sorry, that is not the case. Evolution does not deal with scripture at all.

Non sequitur.

Evolution does not deal with scripture at all.

But that is precisely the point.  Nor does it consider the hypothesis that a Creator exists.  Therefore, as Cvengr wrote, "Evolution approaches Scripture from a point of view that that there really isn’t a Creature - Creator distinction."  QED.

25 posted on 09/01/2008 10:17:23 PM PDT by Celtman (It's never right to do wrong to do right.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman
All of Scripture is true.

The big bang has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. None of the origin ideas have anything to do with the theory of evolution.

If science were as true, then TOE would also fit with the Big Bang as they both are purported by science to be true.

Since they are unrelatable to one another from your assertions, they hardly can compete with Scriptural truth as foundations of scientific truth.

26 posted on 09/02/2008 6:12:29 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Cvengr
If science were as true, then TOE would also fit with the Big Bang as they both are purported by science to be true.

Since they are unrelatable to one another from your assertions, they hardly can compete with Scriptural truth as foundations of scientific truth.

Sorry to have to tell you this, and because this is the Religion Forum I'll put it as gently as I can.

You're don't have a clue about science or how it operates.

27 posted on 09/02/2008 6:49:58 PM PDT by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

On the contrary, your devotion to science promotes a search for de novo schema at best, but it ignore ex nihilo systems.

The ignorant sloppy scientist who attempts to use mechanistic devotion of displaying plausible hypotheses, all too frequently slips into asserting unproven general statements which contradict ex nihilo created systems and fails to grasp their revelation avaiable to those with simple faith alone in Christ alone.

This doesn’t diminish the proper value of sound science which has its well deserved place and stature, but also doesn’t seek to use science as an ignorant counterfeit for those things outside its grasp.

28 posted on 09/02/2008 6:59:53 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Cvengr
"...the proper value of sound science which has its well deserved place and stature..."

Please let us know which science is "sound" as opposed to apparently fundamental biology, paleontology, genetics, pathology, limnology, dendrology, etc as well as geology and portions of astronomy and physics, which are not.

Please feel free to use your fancy latin fallacies as well, because it sure makes your point look stronger.
29 posted on 09/03/2008 4:30:13 AM PDT by whattajoke
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Celtman
Nor does it consider the hypothesis that a Creator exists.

And how would you TEST for a creator? thus far, there is no evidence aside what randomness bounces back and forth inside certain people's heads that is occassionaly misinterpreted to be thought.

30 posted on 09/03/2008 9:30:31 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what an Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: onedoug
Religion and science work better together than at odds.

Exactly. All legitimate science throughout history has reinforced the literal truth of the Bible, from the first words of Genesis to the last words of Revelation, despite the futile attempts of evolutionists to cast doubt on it.

Evolutionists should look back on the Christian origins of science and stop burning their bridges.

31 posted on 09/03/2008 10:39:37 AM PDT by WondrousCreation ((long time lurker))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: whattajoke

What do you find fallacious in the de novo / ex nihilo problem?

32 posted on 09/03/2008 6:28:33 PM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-32 last

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.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson