Here in the early 21st century, when we look at what we know of astrophysics, geology, earth science, biology, and botany; our perspective on the
history of the Earth and Universe actually correlates well chronologically with Genesis 1. That this is not better known is perhaps due to the fact
that many Christians are not well versed in Science, and many Scientists are not well versed in the Bible.
If we assume that YHWH does exist, and that he (or his agents) communicated the creation story to the people of many thousands of years ago, one
problem encountered was that of language, another that of perspective. The former problem involved trying to explain creation to people whose language
was limited to their experiences with their environment. The latter problem involved trying to explain such a vast and deep subject to people who were
herdsman, with only simple tools and no written language.
Let us look at history from the perspective of science, and then map to Genesis 1. I will use the New American Standard Bible version, but other
translations are similar. To mark the transitions between the science and the Bible, I will quote the Biblical texts.
In the beginning the Big Bang produced the early universe consisting of elementary particles and a quark gluon plasma. The quarks and gluons then
produced neutrons and protons. The early atoms (mainly hydrogen and helium) formed, and then the 1st generation suns came into being. These early
stars produced nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen; but they produced no visible light.
Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the
deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”
Water was created as a product of the first generation of stars, and it was common. The phrase formless and empty comes from “tohu wa bohu”. Tohu
means void or empty. Bohu means empty. The two together mean utter emptiness, or chaos. At this point “earth” is formless, merely an aggregation
of light elements. It is not referring to the planet Earth. The “deep” describes space itself, and how it appeared before the formation of modern
suns. These first generation suns emitted strong ultraviolet light, but that would not have been visible to humans (if humans could have seen this);
and a dense hydrogen fog soaked up the little visible light that was emitted. Thus it is true that “darkness was over the surface of the deep”.
Then the second generation of stars was born, these stars produced the heavier elements that eventually formed the planets and all carbon based life;
the second and third generation stars produced visible light.
Genesis 1:3-5 “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 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, one day”
The separation of the light from the darkness came as the first planets formed and rotated, thus experiencing day and night. The third generation
stars were born – it is thought that our Sun is a third generation star. Our Earth forms, but at this point there is no surface water as it is far
too hot. The moon is formed at this period. Over time Earth cools so that there is rain, and surface water; although it is still very hot. There is
very heavy dense cloud cover – solid clouds from the surface to as high as they can go. If someone could stand on that early earth they could not
see the sun, or the moon, or the stars. All they could see would be could see diffused light in the day and darkness at night. Nothing yet lives upon
this earth. The atmosphere is not like our atmosphere; we could not breathe it and live. Volcanism is very active.
Genesis 1:6-8 “Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." God made the
expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse
heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”
It has now cooled enough that while there is still a very heavy cloud deck, the clouds now are no longer touching the surface but there is a clear
area between the surface and the bottom layer of clouds – one can now see a distance, perhaps all the way to the horizon. This is the expanse
separate the waters (the hot puddles and sheets of water on the surface) from the waters (in the massive storming clouds above). As it continues to
cool land emerges and continents rise (Hadean and early Archaean eons). There are clearly oceans and seas and continents. Life emerges and there are
plants (Proterozoic eon). The plants commence converting CO2 to oxygen.
Genesis 1:9-13 “Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. God called
the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation,
plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so. The earth brought forth
vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There
was evening and there was morning, a third day.”
As the plants spread and continue to produce oxygen the greenhouse effect is diminished and eventually there are breaks in the clouds. Finally the
atmosphere becomes similar to that of today -- a mixture of clear sunshine and localized clouds and storms depending upon region and local weather.
The transition from the Proterozoic to the Phanerozoic has occurred.
Genesis 1:14-19 “Then 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 for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. God made the
two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the
expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that
it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”
So here the sky has finally cleared to the point that the Sun, Moon, and stars are visible from the surface. This is the effect of the land plants
consuming the Carbon Dioxide and producing Oxygen. Before this the water plants only got the Oxygen atmosphere up to about 5%, but the seed bearing
land plants drove it up to around 20%. For the first time in the history of Earth to date, the atmosphere becomes similar to what it is today. Notice
that here it does not say that God created the Sun, Moon, and stars at this point. Instead it says he made (Hebrew: “asah”) them to “govern”
the day and the night. It does not say that he created (Hebrew: “bara”) them at that point. The context here is the governance.
Now that there is sufficient Oxygen there is an explosion of non-plant life. There was a massive extinction of sea life at the end of the Devonian,
and then a new explosion of sea life. Sea creatures now became “large” (the “great creatures of the sea”). The land animals (reptiles and
amphibians) spread, and lead to the dinosaurs, and the avian dinosaurs become the birds.
Genesis 1:20-23 “Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the
heavens." God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged
bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds
multiply on the earth." There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.”
So again there is good chronological correlation. Animal life arises first in the waters, and then spreads to the land. Birds come from the avian
dinosaurs (and modern birds are the descendents of those avian dinosaurs, so in one sense the dinosaurs never really did die out). But there are no
large mammals as of yet, the largest are the size of shrews (and those are pretty tiny!) and are considered “archaic” mammals. Marsupial type
mammals don’t even show up until later yet, and modern mammals later still. This time correlates to the Triassic, then the Jurassic, and finally the
Finally the Paleogene and Neogene periods pass. Here is where mammals finally arise and the dinosaurs (except for the birds) pass away. Mammals expand
in types and numbers and grow significantly in size. And then we enter the Quaternary and an animal arises that becomes self aware, developing
language, tools, and the art of conceptualization. This animal became human. At that time humans were primarily eaters of fruits, tuber, other
vegetables, and insects.
Genesis 1:24-31 “Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth
after their kind"; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on
the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule
over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the
earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them,
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living
thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every
tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that
moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very
good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
What is being referred to here as the “image” of God? It is that ability of self consciousness, of conceptualization, the ability to empathize and
to have language to capture these concepts and relationships. And it is true that this has only arisen very recently in the narrative of geological
ages, in fact it has just occurred.
Now the first chapter of Genesis actually continues with Genesis 2:1-3. The original Hebrew was not divided into the arbitrary chapters that we see
today – this was not done until the 2nd millennium of the middle ages in Europe! As it happens the Hebrews believed that God’s 7th day continues
right through to today (this is seen in the letter to the Hebrews verses 4:1-11). So to wrap up:
Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and
He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all
His work which God had created and made”
Another clue that the old view that the seventh day is still continuing is that this is the only day that does not conclude: “And there was evening
and there was morning, the Nth day”
Here you have it. The scientific chronology from the creation of the universe, the generations of suns, the formation of the Earth, the geological
changes to Earth (oceans, continents, atmosphere), the development of life (water to land, plants to animals, birds before mammals, and man last of
all). And as I have demonstrated, this tracks exactly to the Genesis 1 chronology.
So assuming that YHWH or his agents communicated the development of the universe and of Earth in language that could be understood by people who could
conceptualize but had only simple tools and no written language – then this creation account is the best that could be done. I hope you have enjoyed
this account and would be happy to hear your thoughts.
edit on 1-3-2011 by SunSword because: Clarified that topic refers only to 1st chapter of Genesis, not the entire book of Genesis