Five items appear below:
|1 Astronomy Geology and Creation||Anonymous #79|
|2 Comment on "Astronomy, Geology and Creation"||K Staughen #80|
|3 The Bible Implied It Before Science Did||Anonymous #81|
|4 Genesis and Science – Final Reply to Anonymous||K Straughen #82|
|5 Genesis Creation and Evolution||Anonymous #83|
ASTRONOMY, GEOLOGY and CREATION
(Investigator 79, 2001 July)
New discoveries in astronomy, geology and chemistry suggest that the story of creation in the Bible is scientific and that the start of the "seven days of creation" can be determined.
At the boundary between the geological eras known as the Permian and Triassic, 250 million years ago, occurred the greatest mass extinction of life on Earth. "The Great Dying" wiped out over 90% of marine species and 70% of land vertebrates.
The article The comet that nearly wiped life off Earth (The Advertiser February 24 2001, based on Science Feb. 23) reported discoveries of Luann Becker, Robert Poreda and 4 other scientists.
They concluded that the impact of an asteroid, between 6 and 11.9km in diameter, triggered the Permian/Triassic extinction. Said Dr Poreda, "The impact of a bolide of this size releases an amount of energy that is basically about one million times the largest earthquake recorded during the last century." (The Advertiser, February 24)
Evidence for this impact is based on high levels of complex carbon molecules called buckminsterfullerenes containing trapped gases of argon and helium.
In the 1980s other scientists attributed another mass extinction, that of the dinosaurs – 65 million years ago – to an asteroid impact when they discovered a layer of an element called iridium. Major impacts result in layers of iridium in the geological strata.
The iridium at the Permian-Triassic boundary is, however, only 1/10 of that laid down at the extinction of the dinosaurs–even though the earlier asteroid impact would have had to be bigger since the extinction was more severe.
Scientific American (May 2001 p. 13) suggests that the iridium laid down 250 million years ago is less because the impact occurred in an ocean whereas the later one occurred on land (in Mexico).
This is where science links up with The Bible book of Genesis.
In Investigator 19, 38 and 62 I explained that the description of planet Earth in Genesis chapter 1 corresponds to what the impact of a giant asteroid into an ocean would do.
We should note that the first sentence in The Bible, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", does not refer to the creation of the Universe or of planet Earth. Rather, this initial sentence summarises the creation story that follows. And upon reading onwards we see that what we recognize as planet Earth already exists before the start of creation! In other words Genesis has its setting long after the Universe and planet Earth began. "The heavens and the earth" simply means the "sky and the land".
I realized these points in
the 1970s. Some
other theologians recognize them too. Paul Davies, physicist and
The description of our planet after the first sentence in Genesis reveals perpetual night, land covered in water, ocean water merging with the sky, lack of life, and the "spirit [= wind] of God" moving over the waters. The phrase "wind of God" is a figure of speech referring to a powerful wind. How powerful?
I wrote in Investigator 62 that the wave from a 10km-wide asteroid in mid-ocean would be 3km high 1,000km from the impact site. Upon reaching the shore it would be 100km high! A thousand kilometers from the impact the wind would blow at 1,000km/h – strong enough to sweep cities like dust before a broom!
It's too soon to be dogmatic. But if Becker & Poreda are correct about the Permian-Triassic extinction being caused by an asteroid crashing into an ocean, we will have an event that would have produced conditions like those in Genesis prior to "creation".
We would have a discovery
that I anticipated
from The Bible
decades before the scientists discovered it.
The Bible itself, however, was thousands of years ahead of
"ASTRONOMY, GEOLOGY AND CREATION"
(Investigator 80, 2001 September)
In his article (#79 p. 23) Anonymous closes with the following statement: "The Bible itself, however, was thousands of years ahead of science!" (p. 23). I think it is more accurate to say that rather than science catching up with the Bible, it is the Bible that is being made to catch up with science through a process of reinterpretation.
The book of Genesis is the
work of fallible
men attempting to account for the existence of the world using the
and inaccurate knowledge of their age. To understand the book we must
it within the context of the culture whose beliefs and values it
It is no more or less scientific than any other myth of its kind.
THE BIBLE IMPLIED IT BEFORE SCIENCE DID
(Investigator 81, 2001 November)
Mr Straughen (Letter #80 p.5) says of my article "Astronomy, Geology and Creation" (#79): "It is more accurate to say that rather than science catching up with the Bible, it is the Bible that is being made to catch up with science through a process of reinterpretation."
In 1977 Robert C Newman et al wrote: "Some feel that Genesis 1:1 is a summary of the account to follow." (Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth, 1981, p. 68)
Clearly, this interpretation of Genesis 1:1 has been around a while. I realized it independently and adopted it about 1974.
However, I may be the first to realize (also about 1974) the implication that the description of our planet in verse 2 then fits what an impact of a large asteroid into an ocean would do. This was mentioned in Investigator 19, 38 and 62 but received scientific support – so far still tentative – only this year, 2001 AD. Clearly, the Bible pointed the way, science is "catching up".
More troubling is the
Bible teaching that
"fire and brimstone" (burning stone) from the sky destroyed Sodom and
and likewise human rebellion against God will culminate in the entire
world – earth
and sky – on fire. (2 Peter 3)
Many scientists now state this is inevitable by impact of asteroids as occurred on Jupiter in 1994 – only they don't know when. (See Investigator 62)
We've had thousands of years of warning. Yet everywhere people waste resources fighting each other rather than fight what could destroy us all. Why?
Genesis & Science – Final Reply to Anonymous
(Investigator 82, 2002 January)
I read Anonymous' letter The
it Before Science Did (# 81, page 4), and am unable to agree with
him – specifically
Genesis 1:2. Here is a more accurate interpretation of the text that is
keeping with the intellectual milieu of the age in which it written:
The earth was waste and
And darkness was upon the face of the deep (Tehom)
And the breath (spirit) of God was brooding over the waters,
conduct us to the conclusion that the writer regards waste and void (tohu wabohu), deep (Tehom), and waters, as three epithets designating the same thing, viz. the chaotic watery abyss. Accordingly, we may infer that when God entered upon the creative work there was no distinction between (a) day and night, (b) heaven and earth, (c) dry land (earth) and sea. All that existed were (1) darkness; (2) Tehom = Toliti wabohu = waters i.e. the chaotic watery abyss; (3) the brooding spirit of God materialized as air." (Dictionary of the Bible: Vol. 1, page 502-503).
Please note that my
exposition of The
Song of Creation is purely illustrative of the fact that sacred
can be interpreted in a way that creates the illusion of scientific
The Song of Creation
(1) AThen was not-non existent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it. BWhat covered in, and where? CAnd what gave shelter? DWas water there, unfathomed depth of water?
Commentary: Modern cosmology envisages the Universe emerging from a state of nothingness. This is expressed poetically by the series of negations in 1A. This nothingness is further emphasised through a number of rhetorical questions – 1B and 1C – that illustrate this non-spatial state. The poet then closes by questioning a common assumption – 1D – namely, that the Universe emerged from a watery chaos, a common theme in creation stories.
(2) ADeath was not then, nor was there aught immortal: Bno sign was there, the day's and night's divider. CThat one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
Commentary: 2A–the symbolism of death and immortality are used to represent time (death = cessation; immortality = unending duration). This becomes clear at 1B, where reference is made to the non-existence of the celestial bodies: there is neither night nor day–a timeless existence. This is scientifically accurate because time is a property of the universe, and did not exist before the beginning. At 2C we have a reference to the instant of creation–that indefinable moment when the universe burst into being. The imagery here, which is consistent with modern cosmology, symbolises the fact that the emergence of the universe is not due to any antecedent causative agency.
(3) ADarkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was indiscriminate chaos. BAll that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that unit.
Commentary: 3A – a reference to the chaotic state of the early universe and the fact that it was opaque, or dark (about 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was cool enough for electrons and protons to form hydrogen. light could now travel long distances without being scattered.) This state, and its origin, is further emphasized at 3B – the universe is born of the Big Bang (by the great power of warmth was born that unit – viz. the incredible temperature of the early universe) and, at that time, had none of its current organization.
(4) ATherefore rose desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of spirit. BSages who searched with their heart's thought discovered the existent's kinship in the non-existent.
Commentary: The primal seed (4A) or, poetically speaking, Desire, symbolises the laws of Nature that guide the development of Creation. 4B: An accurate observation that our understanding of Nature and ourselves depends on our understanding of cosmic evolution.
(5) ATransversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it? BThere were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder.
Commentary: 5A: This paragraph refers to the inflation of the early universe, and 5B to the birth of matter when the energy driving inflation was transformed into particles and antiparticles that annihilated each other, releasing prodigious amounts of energy.
(6) AWho verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? BThe gods are later than this world's production. CWho knows, then, whence it first came into being?
Commentary: The poet reminds us that scientific explanations are not ultimate truths (6A), and that the gods (6B), or our concept of them, are of human origin. Consequently, religion can't provide us with ultimate explanations either because it is the product of fallible human minds.
(7) He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows it not.
Commentary: The final paragraph serves to reinforce the previous one–even if God exists, there is no guarantee it has answers that are any better than our own.
The Scriptures of Judaism
and Hinduism are
the product of prescientific people. The accounts of creation found
them represent early attempts to explain the existence of the world and
the human condition. They were not intended to be (indeed, they can not
be) scientific theories of the world's origin, and to impose modem
upon them is to misrepresent the intentions of their authors.
Basham, A.L. The Wonder
that was India, Sidgwick
& Jackson, London, 1967.
Dictionary of the Bible, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1900.
Lineweaver, C. In the Beginning ... The Origin of the Universe, Newton, Vol. 1, No. 1, Australian Geographic Pty Ltd, 2000.
MacNicol, N. (Ed) Hindu Scriptures, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1938.
GENESIS CREATION AND EVOLUTION
(Investigator 82, 2002
PARALLELS WITH KNOWN SCIENCE EASY
Back in highschool my class discussed a novel called Lord of the Flies. It's about some schoolboys stranded without adults on an island. At first they live peacefully but then become progressively savage. The novel describes three periods of violence. On the third occasion the boys verge on killing half their number but are interrupted by the arrival of adults.
The class debated the question of whether it's just a good story or whether the author had a deeper message. One student saw a parallel with Christian theology. The two periods of violence represented mankind's wars. The third episode where the adults returned represented God's intervention.
With imagination it's easy to draw such parallels between stories and history, or between myth and known science. Kirk Straughen (Investigator 82) did this when comparing The Song of Creation with the Big Bang theory.
What Straughen can't do with The Song of Creation, however, is take it literally and from it predict future scientific discovery. Yet, that's what I did with Genesis!
Let's go through it again.
Genesis 1:1 – "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" – is, as explained previously, an introduction and summary of the creation account that follows. Therefore, we can ignore verse 1 and start at verse 2.
In verse 2 what we
recognize as our planet
already exists. It's not directly created by God – it's just there, but
in a state of chaos and destruction. From verse 2 and subsequent verses
1 There is no light;
2 All land is covered in water;
3 The atmospheric space between sea level and clouds is missing – it's all water;
4 There is no vegetation, birds or animals;
5 The "spirit of God" is over the water.
"Spirit" translates the
Hebrew word "ruach"
which occurs 389 times in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament.
about 100 verses "ruach" is translated "wind". In Genesis 1:2 most
translators put "spirit" rather than "wind". Why? Often the
motive is to make it seem that Genesis 1:2 refers to the doctrine of
Trinity, where God is composed of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit".
Genesis 1:2, however, is not about God but is a physical description of "earth" before creation.
Hence the New Revised Standard Version says:
"Wind from God" is a figure of speech for a powerful wind. Compare Exodus 10:13,19; Numbers 11:31; 1 Kings 19:11; Psalm 107:25; Isaiah 11:15; 59:19; Jeremiah 51:1; Ezekiel 13:13; 37:1; Hosea 13:15; Jonah 1:4.
SCIENTIFIC OR PRE-SCIENTIFIC? SCIENCE DECIDES!
n the early 1970s I reasoned that if the Bible is of supernatural origin then the description in Genesis 1:2 should be true of our planet as it once was at some point in time. If so, then future science would confirm this description.
Alternatively, if Genesis is a myth of pre-scientific people, then future science would never confirm the Genesis 1:2 description.
In 1974 I read the book Bombarded Earth (1964). The author argued that planet Earth occasionally gets hit by giant asteroids – rocks from Outer Space. In the 1960s and 1970s most scientists accepted Uniformitarianism – the theory, proposed in the 1830s, that Earth was shaped by slow, physical/geological processes without major catastrophes. In other words the idea of a "Bombarded Earth" was still, in the 1970s, against mainstream science.
On reading Bombarded Earth I recognized that the Genesis 1:2 description corresponded to what the impact of a large asteroid into an ocean would do.
A big impact would create waves up to 100 kilometres high mingled with superheated steam, soot, gravel, dust and boulders pushed by winds blowing at 1000km per hour. (If winds that strong hit a modern city, the city would be smashed to smithereens and blown away – nothing would be left.)
The whole planet, after a big oceanic asteroid impact, would be in chaos. Most living things would perish – the land would become "void" or empty of animals, birds and plants. The surface, or what was previously the surface, would be dark. A hypothetical observer near sea or ground level would not see the sun, moon or stars because the "sky" would consist of water, steam and debris. All land would be covered in water to varying extents. The borders of islands and continents as determined by where they meet the sea would change hour by hour – a possible explanation of the phrase "without form" or "formless".
Mr Straughen (Investigator
82) cited a Dictionary
of the Bible with a supposedly "more accurate interpretation" of
1:2. The differences between my account and this Dictionary are
that the latter:
1 Fails to recognize that "ruach" means "wind";
2 Fails to clarify that Genesis 1:2 describes planet Earth not the Universe.
Due to these two failures the Dictionary further fails to draw the implication of a great catastrophe. Aside from these considerations there is agreement.
My approach to Genesis 1:2 allowed its accuracy – whether it describes our planet as Earth once was, or whether it's a myth of prescientific people – to be determined not by prejudice but by future scientific research.
Early last year – 2001 AD
– science demonstrated
that the huge reduction of life on Earth, 250 million years ago, at the
boundary of the Permian/Triassic geological eras can be explained by
impact of a giant asteroid into an ocean. See Astronomy, Geology
Creation in Investigator No. 79. This discovery is still
if confirmed matches what I predicted by taking Genesis literally.
THE SIX DAYS OF EVOLUTION
There is much inter-sectarian debate on whether the Bible intends the six days of creation to be taken literally as six consecutive 24-hour days.
If there was a giant asteroid impact into an ocean, events corresponding to the first five days of creation would take place naturally over millions of years. As the turmoil of water and debris in the sky declined, sunlight would start to defuse through and down to where land would appear – although the sun itself would not yet be visible to a hypothetical observer. This would be Day One – "Let there be light."
The "six days" of creation can be regarded as six significant interventions of God superimposed on a planet that otherwise evolved naturally before and after a huge catastrophe. I think the Bible allows for literal days separated by unspecified intervals of time.
Consider an illustration.
genetically modify plants and animals. Imagine the process continues
all species are altered. Then civilization collapses and all knowledge
is lost. 10,000 years later a new civilization with new scientists
the origins of living things on Earth. Some argue everything evolved
no intelligent creation or intervention along the way. Others argue
most species, either individually or collectively, benefit humans and
suggests intelligent design. Who would be right and how could they
Over many years I've given many examples of Bible statements that critics called erroneous but which turned out correct. Based on this trend I occasionally used the Bible to forecast future scientific discovery – asteroid impacts into oceans is only one example.
Therefore the idea that
the original Scriptures
of the Bible are inerrant, i.e. without error, is established like most
scientific theories are:
- Firstly, repeatable observations and experiments;
- Secondly, a theory to explain the observations;
- Thirdly, testable, falsifiable predictions.
We can only reject the
Bible and be consistent
about it if we reject science as well.
Gallant, R. 1964.
Bombarded Earth. John Baker
Investigator Magazine, Numbers 79 to 82
NRSV Reference Bible, 1993. Zondervan. USA.
Wigram, G. V. Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament. Samuel Bagster & Sons. Great Britain. Pages 1160-1162.