Beginnings

big bangDo you believe in Genesis or in evolution and the big bang theory? That is a question hat is raised by both the very conservative end of Christianity, and by atheists wanting to make Christianity look ridiculous.

I believe both. Or all three, grammar was never my strong point.

Two things about Genesis:

  1. It was written long before modern scientific method was postulated, It cannot be taken as scientific, something that both sides of the debate are guilty of.
  2. It is one of the books of Moses. It was written at a time long after the time of Adam and Eve, or Noah, or Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is more likely a collection of oral traditions.

So let’s have a look at what the Bible actually says: (I’m Usind the English Standard Version (Anglicised).

The prologue:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

There was already something there, although chaotic. This isn’t some contradiction of the big bang theory or even an alternative theory.

The next bit, the six days of creation does something unusual, it splits into two groups of 3, one group of preparation and one of creating life. A bit of artistic licence has to be taken here, especially with the personification of the sun moon and stars.

Days of preparation

Days of Creation

Day 1

Day 4

And God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Day 2

Day 5

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

Day 3

Day 6

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and fthere was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Earthrise_cutoutSee the correlation?

What we have got here isn’t science, not even in its primitive form.

If you try to take it scientifically or even literally you soon run into problems. Plants which need to photosynthesise created before the sun, or humans created male and female on day six, only to find in the next chapter there’s only one male, and a female is made from his rib. This is not science, something else is at work here.

There is no problem between belief in God and believing in evolution. Not in my mind anyway, but I did physics, not biology, at university and that was 40 years ago, so I’m no expert.

What there is though is an early indication of how God chooses to work. God prepares the way before he acts. There’s a thought for the new year.

-o0o-

*The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

4 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. Neil Walpole

    3 points perhaps to think about: Firstly, you brought mention of the likes of Adam and Eve, Noah Abraham etc into your post – there seems to be no doubt whatsoever that most importantly Jesus and importantly those who wrote the New Testament believed these to be real people and real events that they were involved in. I personally would want to bow down to Jesus’ greater knowledge of these characters. Secondly whilst one may argue that Genesis 1 might have a poetic feel about it – this can not be said of Exodus 20 (clearly here the genre here is Law) where God Himself declared (verse 1 ‘And God spoke these word’) verse 11 ‘For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth and all that is in them,’ The context of this is definitely literal days, because it is preceded with talk about six days working and a seventh day rest. Thirdly, my very limited understanding of biology is that photosynthesis needs light (not necessarily the sunlight) to take place, it has always interested me that that the very FIRST thing that God does in His preparation for action is provide light! Love your conclusion about God’s preparation before action!!

  2. The problem with the “God spoke these words approach to Exodus 20 is that by the time the law was given again it had changed.

    This is what God said in Exodus 20:

    8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    And God’s word in Deuteronomy 5:

    12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 For six days you shall labour and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave[c] in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

    So had God changed his mind?

    Or are the commandments the bit which is the same and the other bits are added commentary by the compilers.Most of the differences are around the Sabbath commandment, see here: http://barrybandstra.com/tables/ch03/ch03_tb18.htm

    The purpose of the commandments anyway is not to create a straight-jacket of rules to live by or to back up dogma. The purpose of the law was to bring people to trust God. That is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

  3. Neil Walpole

    ‘the other bits’ as far as I can see, certainly do not contradict the actual commandments but as the Bible often does, they build on what has been said before. I agree totally about the ‘straight-jacket’ and your understanding of the purpose of the law!

  4. What I am not saying here is that Christians should not be taking the Bible literally. What I am trying to say is to people ho may be swayed by the onslaught of abuse by the new atheists who are claiming that religion in general and particularly Christianity are against reason and rationalism.. You do not need to give up being rational to be a Christian, that’s what I am getting at. You cn be interested in science and still trust in God.

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